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, June 27, 2009


"Thanks for the new X-Pen, Grandma!"

(Mom says we need a bigger car to haul
all this "crap" around in.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Canine Strength and Endurance - Take 2

As promised, I toted along my camera to the canine strength and endurance class that I am enrolled in. Just to give a visual of the size of this freakin' hill!

Here it is from the top ... pretty, right?

A little deceiving though.

Here is the hill from the bottom. That is a big tall man and a teeny Sheltie at the top. Yes that little black speck is Sis, Romeo's new girlfriend (he's such a man-tramp).

We did much of the same as last week, with a few new things. Started with warm-ups for humans and dogs. Then on to some weight-pulling. Each dog was suited with a harness and a bag of rocks was attached to the back with a leash. 2lb for the small dogs, more for the big dogs. Romeo got a 2lb bag, which works out to roughly 13% of his body weight. Then we walked with them pulling the bags across the field, from the base of the hill to the road (which you can see in the first picture just before the trees), and back again. Then we removed the weights, and did some sprints on the flat, then sprints up the hill and down a couple of times. Ended with crawls under the pool noodles, and some cool-down stretches for humans and dogs.

I'm really enjoying this class. A lot of great people and sweet dogs. The class is made up of 2 Shelties, 2 Pugs (really nice ones, not fat, very lean and muscle-y, no bulgy eyes), a Border Collie, a Kelpie, and a Rat Terrier.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Go-pher It!

This is Casper.

Casper and his brother and sister, Buddy and Nikki, are in some of my Rally-O classes.

Casper is Romeo's new hero. Romeo has serious idol worship happening for Casper. Let me explain ...

I hold my classes in a lovely field on the University of Saskatchewan campus. It's quite large, bordered on two sides by fence and bush, next to a quiet parking lot for easy access. Lots of trees for shade. This field is often used by local dog groups to hold classes or practices in the summer, so I staked out my evening to take advantage of the great area as well. This year the field is unusually overrun by gophers. There are EVERYWHERE, there are literally 5 or 6 gophers in any given area you happen to glance towards at any given time. They keep to themselves, but because the field is used for dog sports at least 5 evenings a week, they have become quite used to dogs being around. I would imagine that, for the most part, the people that use the field discourage their dogs from chasing the gophers as the dogs are all there to work on their various activities. So the gophers have a false sense of security.

Bad horrible person that I am, I will often let Gio and Romeo tear around after class while I clean up, and will on occasion encourage them to chase the gophers. Now, I only do this because I know that neither Gio nor Romeo has any idea what to do with a gopher after the "chase" stage. Gio gives himself away by barking, so never really gets any closer than 15 or 20 feet anyways. He's none too stealthy. And Romeo is more apt to play bow at a gopher than try to catch it.

Today was a normal Rally-O day, and as I cleaned up my signs after classes were finished, Casper's "mom" volunteered to help. (Wonderful person that she is!) She let her crew off leash to tear around with Gio and Romeo, and when I told my guys to go chase some gophers, she mistakenly uttered the phrase "get it!" to her crew. Casper took her word for it and took off like a bolt, straight for a congregation of gophers near the back of the field. A quick snap and he had one, it's terrified gopher scream calling attention to it and the rest of the dogs took off running to see what the fun was all about. We successfully called the dogs away before they all got their paws in on the mess, but not until after Casper dispatched of the pesky gopher.

Of course, he was quite proud of himself, and pranced happily back to us with a shit-eater grin on his cute little face. I think he probably had "gopher stink" on him from the quick but efficient struggle, and this certainly drew Romeo's attention. Romeo just couldn't leave Casper alone while we finished cleaning up. He shadowed him precisely, staying close to Casper's flank, copying his every move. Romeo thinks Casper is amazing, and brave, and wonderful, and the best guy ever!

Stay tuned to Casper's Blog, I think he may have a photo of his trophy to share with the world.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Canine Strength and Conditioning

I have signed up for a canine strength and conditioning class offered by Theresa Ziegler of Canine Rehab in Saskatoon, SK. The first class was tonight and I had a great time!

My goals are two-fold:
1) I'm hoping that some conditioning will help Romeo out on the agility course. He doesn't have much control on the contact equipment when they are raised to full height, part of that is surely just the fact that he is still learning, but I'm thinking that lack of muscle condition and control plays a role as well.
2) I'm using it as a workout class for myself. If I tell myself to go to a gym, I will never do it. But if I've signed up for a dog class I'll be there every week if possible! Even if that dog class involves a lot of running up and down hills.

We worked on a couple of exercises tonight, which I will briefly describe.
  • Warm-ups for humans and dogs. For humans, working on stretching out and warming up the legs, hips, and hamstrings. For dogs, reps of sit-down-sit and sit-stand-sit, stretches, figure 8's between your legs, and side bends.
  • Sprints. We place the dog in a sit-stay, quickly jog backwards a couple of feet, then call the dog enthusiastically to us, asking for a sit as soon as they get there. Then quickly run backwards again and repeat. This encourages the dog to fire off from a sit, working their back legs. (I only fell once! YAY me!)
  • Sprints up a hill (I knew this would be in there when she told us to meet at the top of Diefenbaker Hill! YIKES! I will take a camera next week so you all can truly appreciate the size and steep-ness of this hill!). Place the dog in a sit-stay at the bottom, run up to nearly the top, then call the dog to us. Run back down, place the dog in another sit-stay and repeat until your legs fall off.
  • Serpentine down the hill. Walking in long loopy back-and-forth lines across the face of the hill. The dog (and you!) are walking on a slope to the side, so it works different muscles than if you were going straight up and down the hill. End with a jog back up the hill and down again.
  • Crawling. Some people hold a couple of pool noodles at the dog's eye level while the handler goes to the opposite side and calls the dog underneath. Each rep sees the noodles lowered a little more towards the ground so that the dog has to crawl or crouch to get under them.
  • Wheelbarrow. Holding the dog under their belly, lift so that only their front feet are on the ground. Gently rock them back and forth and front and back so that they have to compensate and shift their weight on their front legs.
  • Balancing on one side. Supporting the dog between their legs and under their chest, lift so that the front and back foot of one side are off the ground. Rock the dog back and forth gently so they adjust their weight on the one side. Repeat on both sides.
  • Finally end with stretches for both humans and dogs.
It was a really good class full of really great people and dogs! I'm looking forward to next week's class. ... Of course, I may change my mind when I wake up tomorrow unable to move from the neck down.


I am editing this to add that Romeo is just a WEE bit tired after his workout.

He was lazily chewing on his rope/pompom thing (that used to be a leg off of Mr. Caterpillar) when it got away from him. He tried valiantly to will it back into his mouth, but the Sheltie Mind-Meld just wasn't strong enough, so he gave it up as a lost cause.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Prairie Dogs Dog Training

Introducing ...

Since I have started offering my own Rally-O classes, I thought I should make it official. Lay out my training philosophies, advertise my classes to the online community as a whole.

I would love feedback on the website. I've been playing around with the Blogger layouts to tweak it into a website, so there are limitations. But if you think I should include something that isn't already there, or remove something that is, please send comments my way!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We Are Winners!

I just received a message saying that Life is Better with Sheltie Hair has been awarded the "Cool Dog Site of the Day" award by Pet Supplies Place. I can't seem to figure out how they choose the sites or even who the past winners are, but pretty cool none the less! Thanks!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sheltie Party!

Romeo and I went to visit his breeder this afternoon for a couple of hours. Her and I like to chat and keep in touch, and Romeo just likes to play with a whole BUNCH of Shelties!

Copious amounts of barking, chasing, and running!

Playing "Chase the new kid"

Romeo in the back ... with the ball, of course!

Get ready ...
Get set ...


If I had a yard like hers, I would NEVER get the dogs to come inside! Romeo would protest and camp out in the back corner forcing me to go out there and carry him in, kicking and screaming.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Further Proof That My Dogs Are Crazy

The video is pretty self explanatory ...

Friday, June 5, 2009

FURminator ... continued

After yesterday's blog post, I received a couple of questions on how to use the FURminator, specifically with Sheltie-type coats.

Using the FURminator does take some practice. I have made Gio's butt nearly bald when I first used it. It was a situation where I was so amazed at how much hair I was getting out, that I just kept going ... and going ... and going. Poor Gio. But it grew back in, no problems. I go off of feel a lot when FURminatoring (new verb!). If the tool glides through easily, then keep going. As soon as it starts to feel choppy or rough, stop. You've got all the undercoat you are going to get.

I line brush when I use the FURminator. Meaning that I part the hair down to the skin, and work at the very base of the hair with the FURminator. Short strokes just to loosen the hair, then use a slicker brush to pull the hair out. I find that if I try to pull the FURminator right from the base of the hair to the tip that it ends up breaking some of the guard coat. By line brushing and just working the base of the hair, the guard hairs remain undamaged and you only remove the undercoat.

Another thing to keep in mind, is to not work on one area for too long. I only do about 5-7 strokes per "piece of skin", and not pressing down overly hard. The teeth of the FURminator are quite sharp (comparatively), and can damage the skin if you work one area too much.

When introducing the FURminator to your dog, I find it easiest to just do a small patch at a time. When I started, I did 1/4 of a dog per session, one session per day. As I got used to using the FURminator and the dogs began to accept it well, I would increase the area I would groom. Now I can do a whole dog in one session, usually with a break half way through to stretch my back and let the dog wander around for a minute.

I can completely strip the undercoat of both of my dogs in about an hour and a half. I try to do this about once a month in the summer time, slightly less often in the winter. In the summer, I try to get as much undercoat out as I can. In the winter, I use the FURminator sparingly, only thinning out areas, not removing the undercoat completely.

Here is a brief video of how I use the FURminator. Keep in mind that the boys were just stripped yesterday, so there isn't much undercoat for me to remove as a demo. I jumped around a lot trying to find a good place with some undercoat left. Normally I would move very systematically from the hindend of the dog to the shoulder.

And no, the FURminator people are not paying me. Though, if any FURminator people are reading this, I would be happy to accept "thank you" presents! Have your people call my people.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Spring Cleaning

I admit it, I have been slacking off in the grooming department. My excuses? Well, with Gio being ill he hasn't been going on his therapy dog visits, so I haven't been as diligent with feet trimming and grooming as I normally am. And Romeo, well I really don't have an excuse, except for the fact that stripping him out is such a daunting task I prefer to ignore it most of the time.

But I finally broke down and decided that a good stripping and brush out was long over due.

Which leads me to this very important declaration ...


I believe I was able to strip 2.38 Miniature Poodles out of my two boys.

Proof? You want proof? YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE PROOF!!

(ahem ... sorry ... moving on)

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