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!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

52 Weeks - Week 4

I took this photo earlier in the week, just haven't gotten around to posting it here until now.

Last weekend was a CRAZY winter storm that dumped 20 inches or so of snow on the city. And, despite shoveling the driveway out (multiple times, due to the wind blowing the snow all back in again), I was still unable to leave for work on Monday morning. SHAME!

The plows had not made it to the residential streets yet, so while I could move around comfortably in the driveway, I couldn't get anywhere on the street. So it was a SNOW DAY holiday!

I was excited to take advantage of this rare opportunity, where I wasn't otherwise engaged during daylight hours, to try for some outdoor action shots with Gio. But, while luck was allowing me to have a long weekend due to snow, it would not grant me any decent sunlight for action photos. I got a bunch of dark blurry romping in the snow shots, but nothing worthy of the 52 Weeks project. Instead, I opted for this photo.

Normally, I greatly dislike "shooting down at the dog" photos. They tend to look really amateur to me, so I hope that isn't the vibe with this photo. I love the big goofy grin and the snow all over his face from Sheltie Snow Plowing through the drifts. When the snow piles up between his eyes like this, I always think that it makes his eyes look so tiny and silly!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Snow Day

It appears as if the snow has finally stopped falling. Or, at least has tapered off to a light sprinkling. But the destruction left in its wake is pretty intense!

I live in a city that is used to snow. We're right smack in the middle of the Canadian prairies. We know snow. We know winter. We have the infrastructure to deal with such situations. Weather will rarely stop the city from running as usual.

This morning, the buses stopped running. I have heard tales that, of the 28 buses that were scheduled to be on routes this morning, 12 of them were stuck in snow drifts by the time service was canceled mid-morning. When Saskatoon buses stop running, you know it was some serious weather!

Luckily, it's not too cold out, just snow and wind. So, trying to be optimistic, it could be a heck of a lot worse. Like 40 below kind of worse.

These are the kind of snow days that I like! Enough powdery white stuff to cancel regular plans (like my Sunday afternoon Rally-O classes), but not cold enough to keep us housebound! So out we went to shovel the driveway, the workout from which I am now recovering. Who needs the gym when you have a thousand* pounds of snow to move?

I didn't actually measure how deep the snow was, and the "before" pictures I took didn't look very impressive. So I have called on my handy-dandy furry measuring sticks!

Gio is roughly 19.5" at the shoulder. Romeo is about 14" at the shoulder.

Here I have tossed some of the snow into a pile along the side of the driveway, edged by the neighbour's house. You can see the "smooth" bottom layer and the "chunky" top layer (yes, I thought of peanut butter, too). The smooth layer is where the snow fell, while the chunky is what was tossed on top from other parts of the driveway. The fallen snow layer is about 3" below Gio's shoulder, so one could estimate that there was about 16" of snow on the driveway. It wasn't consistently as thick across the whole driveway though, thanks to the wind.

Of course, the most fun is jumping through the BIG pile of snow near the fence!

I love a good Snow Face!

* May be a slight exaggeration.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's Snowing

Really REALLY snowing!

The boys are loving it. I also love snow, as long as I don't have to drive in it and it magically disappears from my driveway without any effort on my part. Unfortunately, those things rarely come along with snow. But I do love watching it fall and blow from the comfort of my living room!

This snow storm is supposed to last for the next two days with a predicted 15cm (~6in).

Friday, January 22, 2010

52 Weeks - Week 3

So it's a couple of days late ... sorry. This picture was posted to the Flickr group a couple of days ago, I just haven't had the time to put it here yet. So without further ado ...


My goal this week was to try and capture Gio's goofy side. I bought this toy ring a while ago and he is absolutely nuts over it! He insists on carrying it around over his head like this, instead of like what most would consider "normal". Even if he does pick it up normally, he will stop and toss his head around until he "fixes" it (ie. loops it back over his head like a gomer).

The ring, if anyone is curious, is something I picked up from a locally owned pet store here in Saskatoon. The label said it is "water buffalo leather". I can vouch that it is really leather ... whether that leather came from a water buffalo or your run-of-the-mill cow, I cannot say for sure. But whatever it is, this thing is like cat-nip for the dogs! They are crazy about it (and were really hoping that Gramma might buy them another one for Christmas so that they didn't have to share).

On a side note, though arguably more important than a silly picture of Gio with a ring on his face ...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Or ... at least, we are getting closer!

I made a second attempt today to capture the picture that was in my mind for LAST week's "52 Weeks for Dogs" photo project. I was aiming for a simple portrait-type picture. Something to showcase the dignified, handsome, regal image that Gio likes to portray to the general public. My first attempt failed, and instead I wound up with the "Sheltie-Mind-Meld Hover Ball incident".

I am MUCH happier with the result of this week's attempt!

Thanks to everyone that posted tips and comments last week! Keep 'em coming.

To see the whole project to date (note: it's only week 2 of 2010 ... so guess how many pictures there are so far?), CLICK HERE.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Belated Christmas Party

Today we had our (very belated) Christmas party for Hub City Kennel and Obedience Club. It was originally scheduled for mid-December, but some people thought it was too cold for a party (welcome to Saskatchewan, it is always cold in December!), so the date was bumped until today. Granted, it is much warmer today than it was on the originally planned date, but seeing as the party was inside, I don't see how it makes a difference. But, anyways, on to the party!

The kennel club Christmas parties generally involved lots of food, letting the dogs run around and bark at each other, some games, and a gift exchange. The biggest part of the event is watching the dogs play together, because really, we all joined initially for the dogs anyways!

While the club seems to be overrun with Shelties and Cairn Terriers, there is a really good amount of diversity! It's really neat to see so many dogs of different breeds playing together, and they have a blast at it, too.

For any of you that know Gio, you will know that he really isn't big on playing. He will play with people that will throw a ball for him, and he gets excited to work with me. But he doesn't really engage other dogs in play, apart from chase n' bark. So I was thrilled today to see Gio actually honestly PLAYING with Elmo, the Norrbottenspets! He's totally useless at playing and doesn't really "get" the motions, but he was trying and Elmo was humoring him. So exciting for me to see!

Elmo, sandwiched between Gio (on the right) and Painter (on the left).

Romeo, of course, is a total breed snob and really only interacted with the other Shelties. He had a good bout of zoomies with 7 month old Lacey, a blue merle Sheltie pup, while we were all doing the gift exchange. And he did take a notice in Zara, one of the Salukis, who was right in the middle of the Shelties playing and chasing with the best of them.

Piper, Cairn Terrier, modeling some ribbon from the gift exchange.

Tetley and Emmy, English Cocker Spaniels, running off with a jar of treats.

After the regular portion of the party, a few of us stuck around to participate in what we hope will become a fun new club activity! The husband of one of our members is a judge and instructor for Scottish Country Dancing. Since our club participates in a large number of demos each year, we thought it would be fun to organize a sort of dance with the dogs. Similar to Freestyle Obedience of days gone by. So Claude put together some music and a simple dance pattern for us and we gave it a shot! For a bunch of dog handler non-dancers, that makes for a LOT of left feet! But we were able to put it all together, and at the end of an hour and a half, have a semi-decent dance organized. It will definitely take some practice and tweaking, but it is looking promising! Our next demo opportunity is in March, so we are going to aim to have something worthy of showing the public by then.

And, of course, when we get this many club members and dogs together, we can't help but take a group picture!

From left to right:
Standing: Jill (with English Cocker Spaniels, Emmy and Tetley), Dayna (with Shelties, Romeo and Gio), Claire (with Havanese, Petey), Jeannette (with Cairn Terrier, Piper), Jae (with Cairn Terrier, Rascal), Verna (with German Pinscher, Julie)
Sitting: Gisele (with Miniature Poodles, Gina and Katie), Julie (with Belgian Shepherd, Zorro), Jan (with Salukis, Cygfa and Torc), Robbie (with Saluki, Zara), Elaine (with German Shepherd, Harley), Judith (with Shelties, Ace, Lacey, and Painter), Dante (with Norrbottenspets, Elmo)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Poor Romeo is

a very reluctant model.

Since Gio is my 52 Weeks for Dogs subject, I have decided to do my practices on Romeo. That way, I can't be mad that I ended up getting a better picture of Gio later in the week after already submitting that week's photo entry.

I tried a new lighting set up today and played around with a few new techniques in Gimp. I'm very happy with how the pictures turned out this time.

Thanks also to everyone that has posted pointers on the last post!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

52 Weeks for Dogs

One of my personal desires for 2010 is to become more practiced and skillful at photography. The technical points as well as the processing afterward. It will be a HUGE learning process for me!

Lucky for me, I found a great group of people on Flickr. I first learned of this group through some of my favorite dog-bloggers, Dig It, Fetch It, Herd It, and Many Muddy Paws. The "52 Weeks for Dogs" Flickr group is a project based group where the members strive to post one really great picture of one dog every week for a year. Such a great group of people, and so much talent in one place. I jumped at the opportunity to join for 2010!

Despite having been "taking pictures" for years, I'm a far cry from what anyone would call a "photographer". To me, a photographer is someone who understands how cameras work, how to manipulate their surroundings and the light to capture a really great image. Who understand the art of intriguing photo composition. And who don't rely solely on the "auto" function of their point-and-shoot camera!

I don't claim that I will be a "photographer" by the end of the year ... but I certainly hope to improve my skills and learn a little sumthin-sumthin about photography!

So, if there happen to be any photographers reading this blog, I value all CONSTRUCTIVE criticism, pointers, and tips! I'm using a Canon Power Shot SX110 IS and I have a tripod ... that is the extent of my equipment. Please do keep in mind that I am a single gal with a house loan and a student loan to pay off, therefore please do not suggest that I spend hundreds of dollars on fancy flashes or kits. I would, however, greatly appreciate affordable do-it-yourself ideas!

I'm using GIMP as a photo editing program, so to all you GIMP geniuses out there, HELP!

I would love pointers on everything from photo composition, to the technical aspects of actually taking the picture, to different photo editing options.

Anyways ... without further ado ... here is my first submission for the 52 Weeks for Dogs project!

WEEK 1 - Gio-centric?

This photo is not at all what I had in mind for week 1. I sat down hoping to gather a serious, dignified, thoughtful expression from Gio. The type that he so often wears in public. Alas ... I got crazy Sheltie-Mind-Meld Hover Ball things happening. I "like" it, but I'm not thrilled with it. I know the editing could have been better. It's just a little TOO bright and vivid. Also, the composition is a little off, the crap on the shelf behind the couch is a bit distracting. But I am happy with it overall, knowing that I will improve as things progress!

Like any good junky, I had to try my hand at this picture taking business again tonight. I'm decidedly more happy with tonight's image! Though, it is too late to submit this picture in my 52 Weeks project ... very strict rules about only ONE picture per week, and the picture must be taken within the allotted week, no diving into archives. So, for this one, I need to be happy with it solely for its quality and the tricks I (somewhat successfully) attempted in taking the picture and editing it.

If you want to follow along with our 52 Week adventure, check out my Flickr photostream for the project.
52 Weeks of Gio

(Don't get too excited, if you are reading this during the week of January 4th-10th there is only one picture there!)
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