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, October 31, 2009

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

The Sheltie-mobile
2001 - October 31, 2009

Today, I said "good bye" to the Sheltie-mobile. My little Chrsyler Neon made its final journey this morning.

My little car has seen many things in the past few years. Its tiny back seat reluctantly accommodating two excited Shelties on trips around the province for various trials and competitions.
Lugging around countless pounds of raw meat. (Including dog toys and tracking stakes on the floor.)
Toting all forms of "dog stuff", including awkward test props for therapy dog evaluations.
And galantly braving the crazy Saskatchewan seasons.
Today, it performed its final haul. On the way back from picking up a load of raw bison RMBs, some idiot, in his exuberance for a Big Mac, decided to snub the laws of physics and cut across my lane. Little Neon tried, but just couldn't stop in time. We rammed the back wheel well of the McMonster Truck, buckling anything bendable on the front end of the Neon ... and barely scraping the mud off the rear hubcap of the gas guzzling male ego booster.

All opinions point to my little Neon being written off. The police were called and the independent witness vouched for the McIdiot being in the wrong. The insurance company has been notified, and my little Neon towed away.

I can only be thanksful that the dogs were not with me in the car and that no one was injured. Well, no living being, anyways. My poor little Neon will never be the same.

Good bye, little Neon. You were a good car.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Hooligans

I love Halloween. Have I mentioned that already?

This year we've had many Halloween festivities. The first of which included our regularly scheduled therapy dog visits ... WITH COSTUMES! I had purchased two costumes, an angel and a devil. Both "human" costumes that I then modified for the boys. "Modified" meaning that I used twist ties to fasten things to their harnesses and hoped for the best. I had intended for Romeo to be the devil and Gio to be the angel ... you know, to fit their personalities. But, as it turns out, Romeo is just too darned cute in the angel wings and the devil horns fit on Gio's head better. For the therapy dog visits, though, they both wore the angel/fairy wings (slightly more appropriate for visiting the aged). The costumes were a big hit! We got so many giggles and grins with the angel wings, and all of our practice with "hold it" really paid off when it came to the fairy wand.

Gio and Lily at Eamer Lodge

Romeo and Ceilidh at Saskatoon City Hospital

In addition to the therapy dog visits, we had a pumpkin carving party a couple of nights ago. Complete with goodies ...

... for the people ...

... and the dogs ...

... and the guinea pigs!

Of course, silly hats were involved.
Don't have too much fun, Tash. You wouldn't want to hurt yourself.

I was a little more ambitious this year with my proposed pumpkin designs than I have been in years past. More often than not, my jack-o-lanterns end up with the traditional "triangle face" known and loved the world 'round. This year, though, I really tried to step it up!

A free-handed wolf silhouette

And a Sheltie design I found online

I'm quite proud of how they turned out. Even more thrilled with the flashing multicolored pumpkin lights I found at the Zellars!
And, in the dark is even better.

Of course, the boys were their usual helpful selves and were eager to assist with the clean-up.

"Did you know pumpkin is good for puppies? You do love me, right?"

"Food? Where?!"

By the end of the night, we had a good batch of stunning jack-o-lanterns! The two on the ends were carved by Judy. In case you have been living under a rock, the one on the far left is Carol from Where the Wild Things Are (awesome movie based on a fabulous book! Read it, watch it, love it). The two in the center were carved by "Epic's mom", author of Jacked.

Tip: Those little pumpkin carving kits you can by for $5 ... TOTALLY WORTH IT!

So, HAPPY HALLOWEEN everyone! Hope you all have a fabulous night tomorrow with lots of treats and a few good tricks!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween Dog Safety

It's that time of year again ...


I love Halloween. Definitely one of my very favorite times of year.

But amid all the festivities and frivolity lurk some potential dangers to our fluffy friends. Here are a few points to keep in mind this Halloween to ensure that everyone has a good time!

  • The most obvious danger is the plethora of chocolates and candies! Keep all candy and chocolate away from prying noses. Secure your loot in high cupboards or behind secure doors. Ensure that bowls and platters of sweets are kept out of reach. The caffeine in chocolate is very dangerous for your dog, and candies, wrappers, or sucker sticks pose choking hazards.
  • Provide a safe and calm environment for nervous pooches. With all of the knocking and doorbell ringing sure to ensue throughout the evening, even the most laid back dog can get a little anxious. If your dog is one to get worked up over visitors at the door, they would likely be happier confined to a back room or basement with their own Halloween treat (a stuffed Kong is a great option!).
  • Watch out for door dashers! Whether due to excitement or fear, a dog dashing out of the door while you are handing out candy is a very real danger. Traffic often increases in residential areas during Halloween as parents follow their children around. And while drivers are (hopefully) extra vigilant about children and pedestrians this particular night, a darting dog can easily be missed. Confine Fido to a separate room, tether him so that he cannot reach the door, or use baby gates or an x-pen to give him a safe area to watch the fun without getting too near the door.
  • Even if your dog enjoys visitors and doesn't pose a threat of dashing away on you, be aware that not everyone else loves dogs as much as you do. Even the most well intended dog, large or small, can frighten some children. So to avoid these situations, it is best to keep your dog away from the door no matter how safe or well trained you perceive them to be.
  • Costumes can be very cute, and some owners even argue that their dogs ENJOY wearing costumes or outfits. But costumes should only be worn when you are able to supervise your dog. Do not leave a dog unattended while wearing a costume, as they can easily become entangled or caught up in the extra accessories. Bits can be chewed and swallowed, posing a choking or blockage risk.
  • Do not leave dogs outdoors unattended on Halloween, or the weekend surrounding it. Halloween is on a Saturday night this year, so be extra vigilant. While most Halloween goers are just out for some fun and candy, there are individuals out there that define "fun" in a very different way. Pranks abound around this time of year, so do not leave your dog vulnerable to these sorts of activities. Outdoor dogs should be brought indoors or secured in the garage or an enclosed dog-safe building.
  • After Halloween is over and before letting your dog outdoors again, make a perimeter check of your yard. Ensure that all gates are still securely closed, and check the ground to make sure that no one has tossed treats, wrappers, or garbage over your fence. This holds true for walk times as well. Be aware of dropped candy or garbage that your dog might scoop up on their next walk.
By following these few simple guidelines, you can help ensure that you and your dog celebrate many more Halloweens to come!

Friday, October 23, 2009

These are a few of our favorite things ...

Inspired by our buddies over at Jacked, today I thought I would showcase some of the boys' favorite things!

Gio's favorite things are pretty vague, really. Most of the items in the picture merely represent a wide array of things that Gio loves! His food bowl represents food in general, he doesn't actually TASTE anything that goes in his mouth. So he loves it all the same. And the tug toy represents the act of tugging. He'll tug on anything, this is just one of the many options. The sheep, though, is a special toy. He loves that squeaky above all other squeakies. The leash, is the object of focus at any time. He knows exactly where his leash is at any moment of the day. Because leash = going somewhere, and that is ALL GOOD! And the clicker is very much like the leash. The clicker = training, which again is ALL GOOD! And finally, the tennis ball. That is self explanatory. Nothing more needed there regarding the tennis ball obsession that is Gio's life.

Romeo's favorite things are equally vague. The bag of treats representing any treat-like substance or any edible item given as a treat. The clicker again representing training, which in Gio's words, is ALL GOOD! And the ball representing any ball of any texture or size. As long as it rolls, can be thrown, and is therefore chase-able. Peanut butter (also synonymous with Cheez Whiz in Romeo's world) is a very specific love. Likewise with the squirrel (of which we have three getting equal rotation) and the large rubber pig.

So ... what are YOUR favorite things?!

Friday, October 16, 2009

7 Groups

Our Berner buddies over at It's a Berner-ful Life had a neat blog entry today that I am SO STEALING!

The idea is to go through each of the CKC (or AKC) dog breed groups and pick the breed from each that you would choose to own. You CANNOT pick the breed that you currently have.

Group 1 - Sporting Breeds
While I admire the looks and personalities of many sporting breeds, I don't know if I would ever choose to have one myself. They just don't mesh well with what I am looking for in a dog. But if I HAD to choose (and for this game to have a purpose, I do), I would pick the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. I know a couple of these dogs from Rally-O and agility, and they are a lot of fun! A nice size dog, very athletic, and the ones I have met have a really nice drive-y work ethic. A little more "serious" compared to other retrievers, as far as I can tell, too.

Group 2 - Hounds
I have the pleasure of knowing a lady with a couple lovely Salukis, and I have become somewhat attached to the idea of a sight hound. I don't think I could handle a scent hound, but I would be happy to share my couch with a sight hound. And Salukis are absolutely gorgeous dogs, full of character. They don't really offer what I am looking for in a competition dog, but it would be fun to try anyways!

Group 3 - Working Breeds
Would have to be a Doberman Pinscher from that group. Again, great athletic dogs, wonderful work ethic, and so full of spunk! Quite a bit less hair than I prefer ... but I'm sure I could deal with that.

Group 4 - Terriers
These dogs truly terrify me! It takes a very special person to own terriers and be able to provide them with the structure and purpose that they need. The "terrier people" that I know have to be some of the most laid back people I have met. I think that is because you HAVE to be calm and laid back in order to happily live with a terrier. If you try to control them too much, they will just try harder to resist. You have to just take them in stride. I don't know if I would be brave enough to undertake the task of loving a terrier. And though I have met many terriers that I truly enjoy, I can only handle them in small doses. They make me anxious and twitchy! So, I will choose this breed based solely on appearance. I would choose a Border Terrier because I think they are absolutely adorable. There, I will leave it at that, and back slowly away from the terrier group.

Group 5 - Toy Breeds
I would pick Papillion for this group. Again, a nice agile dog, and the couple that I have met are very successful in various dog sport activities. With the right approach, they can be hardy and enthusiastic workers.

Group 6 - Non-Sporting Breeds
A Standard Poodle, definitely. While very ... er ... poodle-y, they can be fabulous workers! I've met some seriously drool-worthy obedience Std. Poodles, so these dogs make it onto my "some day I would like to own" list.

Group 7 - Herding Breeds
Can I take them all? This group is definitely my comfort zone, and I would gladly take home MANY of these breeds! But if I had to choose just one, and if I were not allowed to pick Shelties, I would grab onto a Belgian Tervuren. Just like a great big Sheltie ... but crazier, and more drive-y. Like many dog enthusiasts, I have a list of "someday dogs". Breeds that I would love to own at some point in my life. Along with a shaggle of Shelties, Belgian Tervurens are right up at the top of that list!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Look Ma, No Glasses!

I know, I have been absent from the blog world for the past while. Truth is, I have been on holidays for the past week. YAY! First honest to goodness, "I actually purposely booked time off of work", holidays ... um ... ever. But, true to form, I'm didn't actually GO anywhere to enjoy the time off. Rather, I booked an appointment to get laser eye surgery done. Equally thrilling in its own right.

I've had glasses and/or contacts for about the past 12-ish years and I've had enough! Enough fogging up in the winter time, enough speckles of rain, enough Sheltie nose prints. Since the house purchasing experience earlier this year didn't end up digging into the savings I had set aside for a down payment, I decided it was fair to dip into that for laser surgery.

The procedure is really cool ... if you can get past the suctioning your eyeball out of your head, running a sharp blade through your cornea and burning your eye tissue away with a precision laser part. No, really, the description is a million times worse than the actual process! In reality, it's about 10 minutes of minor discomfort followed by 24 hours of REALLY SEXY SUNGLASSES!

I had the surgery early yesterday afternoon, and the remainder of the day was blurry and uncomfortable. But after my prescribed naps (yes, the doctors actually prescribed at least a 2 hour nap after surgery) my vision was much better. And then this morning after a decent nights sleep (during which I had to keep the sunglasses on so as to prevent rubbing my eyes unconsciously) I can see BETTER than I did previously with my glasses on! This is amazing!

So during the past 24 hours that I have spent sitting in the living room wearing my sunglasses with the lights turned down, not allowed to read, watch TV or use the computer (AAAAH!), the boys have been playing Nurse.

They both are taking the job very seriously. My lap has not been empty for longer than the couple of minutes it takes me to replenish my eye drops every couple of hours. Gio is keeping me warm during nap times, and then when I wake up the dogs switch off and Romeo cuddles up on my chest.

A visit to the doctor for my post-op check up this morning discovered that there is a little more blood around the surgery site than they would like to see. Apparently this is present in about 50% of cases, and no you can't actually SEE the blood on my eye so I don't look like a freak or anything (apart from the REALLY SEXY SUNGLASSES being worn 24 hours a day). So I am to continue the rigorous eye drop routine for a couple more days than usual. No biggie ... and it means that the dogs can continue their very important job as fuzzy nurses.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Rewarding Behaviors

I have received a great honor. Casey Lomonaco of Rewarding Behaviors Dog Training has asked me to be a "guest expert" this week on her RBDT Forum. My topic of discussion is building drive for the purposes of dog competition.

If you want to check out the discussion, here is the link.

Even if you do not want to check out the discussion, you should really browse through the forum! Lots of great information there about positive training for all dogs (and non-dogs, too!).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Powdery White Stuff

We had our first snow fall of the year today! A bit earlier than is the norm in this area, but not totally unexpected. I really do enjoy the winter, though I wish we had had more of an autumn this year. But there is still hope. I doubt this first snow fall will stick around long, as we are supposed to be back in the positive temperatures next week.

Best thing about the first snow fall ... Fresh Snow Zoomies!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

HCKOC Rally-O Trial

The trial went off without a problem! Thanks to everyone that helped out, and to all the people that participated in the trial. You helped make HCKOC's first CARO Rally-O trial a great success!

The boys were entered in 3 rounds each. Gio in 3 Excellent B rounds, and Romeo in 3 Excellent C Stream rounds.

Gio, the wonderful dog that he is, worked his little heart out, but wasn't quite able to pull off any qualifying legs. Excellent level in CARO is quite tricky to get, as it should be, and while Gio is a fantastic worker, we have trouble putting it all together when the judge is watching. On Saturday, he would have pulled off a perfect 200/200 score had it not been for one station that resulted in an NQ. He loves working so much, so I can't make myself be disheartened. He had a great time and pulled off some really nice stuff. So we will keep playing and eventually get that elusive Excellent title.

Romeo pulled off another stunning weekend of performances, finishing up the last two Excellent legs of his CRB (CARO Rally Bronze) championship title with scores of 197 and 198. Also earned the first leg of his CRS (CARO Rally Silver) championship title with a perfect 200/200 run. This dog is blowing my socks off!

The trial was held at Sondog Agility, out some backroads Northwest of Saskatoon. The facility is surrounded by lovely fields that we just couldn't pass up.

A great weekend, all in all. The dogs and I are exhausted and quite ready for life to get back to normal ... whatever that is.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

For Sam


It is with extreme sadness that I write this.

A good friend lost her best friend today. For those of you that have had multiple dogs, you know that each one holds a special place in your memories, never to be forgotten, impacts you in some way. But you also know that there will be those rare few dogs that not only hold a spot in our memories, but also in our hearts. These are Heart Dogs, and they are truly marvelous animals.

Sam is a Heart Dog. Forever staking claim to a small piece of his owners heart.

Very recently, Samson, an 11 year old Border Collie, was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma. A large tumor had formed on his heart. He spent a number of happy days at home with his family after the diagnosis, but collapsed today and was helped to The Bridge.

My heart breaks for his "mom". Know that, as much as Sam has taught you and touched your life, your efforts and dedication to him matched step for step. Heart Dogs have no past-tense. They live as long as the heart they have touched continues. Sam is an amazing dog.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Delegator Dilemmas

I have learned something about myself in the past couple of weeks ... I really suck at delegating!

Hub City Kennel and Obedience Club is hosting their first CARO Rally-O trial in Saskatoon this weekend. Last year some time (or maybe it was only earlier in the spring of this year ...) I had agreed to look up the information needed for hosting a CARO trial. And, while I was at it, I decided to check into judges, and book our judge, and check into buildings, and book our building. And, just because I had all the information at hand, I wrote up the premiums and entry forms, advertised them online, and stupidly put my own name down as trial secretary to accept the entries. With that, comes the task of doing all the paperwork required to deal with the entries. So really, I've essentially organized this whole trial! No, that is not bragging, that is me beating my head against the wall. There are many fabulous, talented, and very capable people in the club that have all offered to help out in any way possible. But somehow, in my mind, it is easier for me to just do the job myself than to hand it off to someone else to do. STUPID! So, as a result, I am absolutely exhausted and just want this trial to be over with NOW.

My excuse (read: what I am telling myself so that I will feel better about being an idiot), is that now I know exactly what needs to be done. So I will be able to confidently delegate NEXT time, without worrying about overlooking anything. I can't very well lead a project when I don't know what has to be done, right? Right?! Okay, I will stick with that explanation.

In the mean time, the dogs are getting dusty with their Rally-O. We've had the past couple weeks off since my classes ended for the summer, and I really haven't been doing much with them. Some people have noted that Gio has been absent from the blog for a while. And he has been ... no denying it. Gio is doing wonderfully health-wise. No more seizures, and his pancreas seems to be holding up well after our scare a couple months back. He is back onto 100% raw diet, which he much prefers to the veggie crud or, even worse, the canned yuck. He's adding weight on again, so not looking quite so emaciated. He's still been going on his therapy dog visits, but I've been too busy to take him tracking as much as he would like. Romeo's agility adventures and this darned CARO trial have been eating up all my time.

If anyone is wanting to come out and check out some CARO Rally-O, our trial is being held out at SonDog Agility on October 3 and 4, 2009. Take highway 16 Northwest of Saskatoon. Swing a left on Lutheran Rd., then left again on 3070. Take your 4th driveway on your left and you are there. It's about 15 minutes out of the city, not too bad. Spectators are welcome, though please leave dogs at home that are not entered in the trial.
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