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, March 27, 2010

Spring has Sprung, the Grass ...

... is ... uh ... still brown.

But it's warm! Most of the snow has melted, the birds are out, and the roads are now dry enough for me to justify washing the car!

To celebrate the beautiful weather, I took the boys over to the park for a mud bath (aka. run). Little did I know, not only does spring make the puppies happy, it also makes tongues happy!

Gio was able to control his tongue for the most part. But Romeo's tongue was just SO HAPPY that he couldn't keep it contained. It kept sneaking out unannounced.

I now have two very muddy dogs. But they are happy!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Happy (Belated) St. Patrick's Day!

Yeah, so this is a day late. But really, this is probably a better day to post my St. Patty's Day rambling, because you were all out drinking green beer yesterday so wouldn't have remembered this post anyways! See, I'm smarter than I look. (Not that it's hard, really.)

Anyhoo ... On Monday Romeo had his regular therapy dog visit at Saskatoon City Hospital, and since it was the week of St. Patrick's Day, I couldn't very well pass up the opportunity to embarrass him. So we pulled out the plastic hats and sequined green bow-ties, and VIOLA! Embarrassed Sheltie! (And Ceilidh, the Cairn Terrier, who is well beyond "embarrassed" and is bordering on "homicidal".)

The bow-tie was deemed "acceptable", and was allowed to stay on for the duration of our visit. But the hat was just no good, and Romeo was very reluctant to been seen by his ladies in such a ridiculous get-up. For the majority of the visit, I carried the hat around, only sticking it on his head as we entered the rooms of the patients we were going to visit. Then they got to laugh as Romeo frantically pawed and shook in attempts to dislodge the hat ... more often than not resulting in an Irish Pirate situation.

Oddly enough, Romeo felt that this Jolly Green Pirate imitation was tolerable, so would give up his attempts at de-Leprechuan-ing himself once the hat covered his eye, and was more than happy to walk around with a green eye patch. Thus we know the answer to the age old question: Pirates are sexier than Leprechauns.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Best. Challenge. EVER!

We had a kick-arse evening tonight at Rally-O drop in.

Started things off with Gio's photo shoot for our 52 Weeks for Dogs project on Flickr. A challenge was issued this week stating simply "favorite toy". Well, Gio's preferred toy is a tennis ball. But his FAVORITE toy is a PILE of tennis balls!

So I "borrowed" our flyball club's plethora of tennis balls and literally buried Gio in them.

Gio would like to say that he LOVED this challenge, and would appreciate it if we could do this one again. Soon.

Following the tennis ball extravaganza, I ran the boys through some Rally-O drills, which they ACED. The past couple of weeks they have seemed a little off ... a bit of a tummy bug or Gio having seizure issues, or Romeo being a jack-ass. You know ... the normal. This evening, though, no such problems. They were superstars! I even got to try out the new coupler that Karen so speedily made for me, and the boys are rocking the brace obedience experiment. I have no fears that we will be ready to strut our stuff at the Sheltie National at the end of April.

Then, to top the night off, as if it wasn't good enough already, Romeo got a new girlfriend. Concept is a sweet little Pomeranian, and Romeo thinks she is fabulous! The first few attempts of this fluffy-dog shot included Romeo's nose burrowed deep into Concept's fluff. And the resulting "Ewww Cooties!" glare from Concept.

All three dogs were sporting the Laser Eyes of Doom look, due to the horrid fluorescent lighting in the training building. I tried to dim things down a bit, now they just look like zombies. Oh well ... the amount of fluff in this one picture more than makes up for the zombie eyes, in my opinion.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Eye To Eye

Here is the 10th picture for Gio's 52 Weeks for Dogs project. I can't believe it is week 10 already! I have a feeling that if we keep counting weeks like this, the year is going to seem to go by awfully quickly.

I've been planning on doing this particular photo for many weeks now, but other opportunities always bumped it back a bit. Finally got around to it yesterday and I'm very pleased with the result! I think that this one photo pretty much sums up the relationship between myself and Gio.

I got to play around with the custom timer settings on my camera, so even though I am still using the auto function, I feel as if I am learning how to use that darned thing a little bit better.

I did struggle with one surprising hurdle, though. For a dog that NEVER takes his eyes off of me, it was incredibly difficult to get a photo of him looking at me! I got plenty of nice photos of him smacking me in the face with his paw, and even more of him looking at the camera while I made funny faces at him to get his attention. I finally had to settle for putting Gio in a "stay" in his "head down" position, and then wriggling my head into position so that he wound up looking at my face. And then trying again so that my hair wasn't in my face and my fat arm wasn't covering the whole shot.

But, I think the struggles were worth it. I'm very pleased with how it turned out!

I originally took the photo in color, but decided that the greyscale version was more to my liking.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Birthday Surprises

Today is my birthday. A whole 26 years old now. Though some days I feel twice that!

"The boys" surprised me at work with a huge bouquet of flowers. My favorites, Gerbera daisies! Oddly, the card that came along with the flowers appeared to be signed in my mother's handwriting. Curious indeed.

Initially, I had thought that my mom was trying to be silly and send me flowers for my birthday, pretending they were from the dogs. Seems like something she would do. When I got home after work, though, I knew that, in fact, the flowers did come from the dogs. They wanted to send me something that smelled pretty for my birthday.

Because the house certainly did NOT smell pretty when I got home!

It appears as if the boys have picked something up from the Sports and Leisure show on the weekend. Romeo has been a little ... umm ... loose since Monday. Though nothing serious or concerning. The scene that awaited me when I got home, on the other hand, was certainly concerning! What a mess!

May I say, thank Dog for crate training! The crates were a fine sight easier to clean than the carpets/walls/ceiling would have been.


I am assuming this is a bug or something from the show. They really haven't been anywhere else or eaten anything strange that would cause this.

So, despite the pathetic "I'll perish without sustenance" looks they are giving me, the boys are on a fast at least until tomorrow evening. I'm hoping the night goes by without much trouble, though if things are still ... err ... messy in the morning, I'll likely cart them off to the vet's on my way to work.

I'm thinking I should go to bed now, as I anticipate a night punctuated by frequent potty trips and bum-washes.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Emotional Therapy for the Masses

This week has been CRAZY! In addition to our regular Monday night therapy dog visits and Tuesday night Rally-O practice, this week we also had Thursday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday shifts at a booth at the Saskatoon Sports and Leisure trade show. The show organizers approached one of the agility groups in town, Saskatchewan Agility Association, and asked them if they would do some demos in exchange for a free booth at the trade show. Since the agility club is pretty small in numbers, they agreed to take the booth and demos if they could split the work with one or two other non-profit dog groups. So the agility group approached St. John Ambulance therapy dog program and the Hub City Kennel and Obedience Club to join in the insanity.

Since I love trade shows, and am a member of 2 of the 3 dog groups involved, I volunteered to put in a lot of time at the booth and for demos. So in the past 4 days, the boys and I have put in over 21 hours at the show. PHEW! My feet are killing me, I have a sore throat, the dogs are exhausted, and I'm behind on laundry and groceries. But it was a great time (if you are a masochist)!

In addition to the agility and Rally-O demos, we spent most of our time in "therapy dog mode". Of course, the boys just lapped up the attention. Even after an 11 hour shift on Saturday, they were eager* for more again Sunday morning.

I suppose part of their enthusiasm could be explained by the fact that out booth was located directly across the aisle from the sausage and jerky stand. People would swarm to the stand for their fix of delicious meat products, turn around and notice the puppies. Then swarm over to them, meat in hand, for scratches. Romeo seemed equally thrilled with the people as with the proximity to the meat. But Gio definitely showed more excitement over the potential for accidentally dropped goodies. He deserves a commendation, his exuberant optimism never wavered the whole 4 days. He was just as sure that a sausage would be dropped for him on Sunday as he was on Thursday.

There were plenty of kids around, which helped ease the aching for a nibble of jerky. You see, children are often coated in good tasting goop, so choosing to cuddle up with them instead of staring down the meat cart can hardly be deemed a sacrifice.

Gio and Romeo made a lot of little fans on the weekend. This little boy being one of the biggest.

He had a t-shirt with the print of a husky on the front, and his face was painted to match. When he saw the boys at the booth, he rushed over, put them each in a headlock and hauled them in for cuddles and kisses. His mom pulled out her camera for a picture, so I asked if I could snap a shot as well. I had yet to have taken a picture for Gio's photo project, so was hoping to get something good at the show. I think this picture is really cute, despite the fact that it appears as if Gio is trying to escape the death grip that the boy has around his neck. In reality, someone had walked into the booth with a piece of sausage, and while Gio loves his therapy dog job, he loves food just a teensy bit more. I would normally have reset him or tried to get his attention for another shot, but the boy's mom was shooting me the stink eye, so I decided to remain satisfied with the one shot that I got.

This week is decidedly less busy. I am definitely looking forward to that.

* Okay, maybe "eager" is a bit strong. "Not adamantly apposed to" might be more accurate.
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