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!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Big Boy Turns 8!

Today is Gio's 8th birthday!!

Happy Birthday to my big man!

As a treat, Gio got a big bison RMB for dinner. He had to work for it though, no breaks on birthdays for this boy, especially when "mom" is a blogger! So the work in this case involved candles, balloons, a (homemade) party hat, and a good "leave it" command.

Of course, Gio takes "leave it" very seriously.

Like this.

So in order to get him to appear as if he is enjoying this photo shoot experience, I need to use words that will make him prick up his ears. Words like "cookie", "hungry", and "what's that?". These words, when coupled with a lovely hunk of raw bison-y goodness, result in pictures like this.

So the "ear prick" words were punctuated frequently with "leave it" words. "Leave it. Cookie? Leave it leave it! What's that? Where is it? Leave it! Are you hungry? Leave it leave it leave it."

Oh, he's such a good boy.

By the time I finally got a picture that I liked for our 52 Weeks project, poor Gio was literally quivering from the effort. I removed the flaming candle from the vicinity, and Gio was happy to indulge in his reward without worrying about the hat and balloons.

Busy. Can't talk. Eating.

Happy birthday my big boy! Let's say we plan for many many more of these, eh?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Slip Slidin' Away

On our walk the other day, we stumbled upon an empty playground. The sun was so bright, and the clear blue sky, fresh green on the trees, and glaring red slides were too hard to pass up. The boys humored me by posing on the play set.

I really wish that this double slide was on the OTHER side of the play set so that I could have better taken advantage of the bright sunlight. But regardless, I love the colors and swirly blue lines.

Just to the West of the park is a group of apartment buildings. There is a chain link fence that separates the school yard from the parking lot. Leaning on that fence the entire time we were taking pictures was an older man. He was either giving me the long-distance stink eye for having dogs on the play set, or was just horribly confused about what I was doing. Possibly a bit of both.

This picture cracks me up every time I see it. Romeo is just so silly!
Always a happy dog. Always.

Gio is such a trooper. He was having a hard time keeping his grip on the slide, but was still able to spare a smile for the camera!
This was Gio's 52 Weeks for Dogs entry for this week.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Shaggle of Shelties

These are pictures from last week. I'm just getting around to posting them now. OOPS!

Anyways, I took the boys out to visit a friend (who also happens to be Romeo's breeder) one evening last week. She has a varitable shaggle* of Shelties, and a huge property just made for Bark 'n Chase. So after I squished the cootie-wootie 5 week old babies inside (sorry, no pictures ... but imagine fluff and pointy puppy teeth), we took the bigger dogs out back for a romp.

This is Gio's submission for the 52 Weeks photo project for last week.

Gio leading the charge!

Flying Sheltie!

Breaking out the gallop.

If you fail to get the ball, then the game becomes making it back to the tosser first.

And if you DO get the ball ... run like hell!!

There was much running and barking. And in the end there was much slobber and lolling tongues. Fun was had by all!

Once Romeo was sufficiently worn out, we (read: Brenda) got to work on Project Extreme Makeover. See, next week is the 2010 Canadian Shetland Sheepdog Association National Specialty. It is being held right here in Saskatoon, so there is no way that I wasn't entering the fools in for some fun! Romeo is going to be making his debut in the conformation ring in the No Nuts category (more appropriately named Altered Class). For this, he needs to pretend that he isn't a goofy little fluff ball and play Big Boy for a while. Brenda put me on strict No Trim orders for the past couple of months so that Romeo would grow enough hair in the right places so that it can then be trimmed by a more skilled hand. This was very difficult for me ... apparently I have a thing about toe hair. Rogue toe hair drives me CRAZY! While the show, at the time, was still 2 weeks away, Brenda agreed to give Romeo a bit of a trim for me before I went nuts. I had already been grooming Gio's feet overtime to make up for the lack of trimming on Romeo. There were fears that poor Gio would wind up with completely shaved poodle feet if Romeo's tufts weren't tamed soon.

So after a bit of a primp, we wound up with a significantly tidier Romeo. There is still the fancy beauty pageant grooming to come, but that will be closer to show time. For now, though, I can (reluctantly) tolerate the *almost* Hobbit Toes.

Such a handsome boy!

* Shaggle: the totally official I-just-made-that-up term for a bunch of Shelties.

Bonus points if you immediately thought of Templeton the Rat from the Charlotte's Web movie at the mention of the word "veritable". All together now ... "Oh the fair is a veritable smorgasbord orgasbord orgasbord, after the crowds have ceased! ..."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

On Cloud Nine!

The boys and I just got back from a CARO Rally-O trial and seminar in Regina, hosted by KAOS Dogsports, and judged by Laurie Albright.

As always, KAOS did a wonderful job in organizing the event and Laurie is a blast to work with. The seminar on Saturday covered the basics of all 4 CARO levels (Novice, Advanced, Excellent, and Versatility). I like to take in seminars like this to learn new ways of training certain obstacles so that I can pass them along in my classes. It's also nice to get an inside opinion on how certain performances are judged.

Sunday included two CARO Rally-O trials, one round of each level. I had the boys entered, of course!

After a significant stagnant period, Gio finally broke his streak of NQ's and earned his 2nd Excellent level leg! Only one more leg needed for that elusive RX title! Not only did he qualify one of his Excellent rounds, but he also took High in Class, bringing home a snazzy rosette and a big bag of toys and goodies. The second Excellent round was beautifully done, except for one measly little sign. As is the case with Excellent, one false move and you are done for. In Gio's defense, though, this was honestly the HARDEST Excellent course I have EVER seen. EVER! Head's up students ... guess what is going to be making an appearance in class one of these days!

Romeo was a little show-off, as usual. I had him entered in 4 rounds, 2 Excellent C and 2 Versatility. He qualified his first Excellent C round with a score of 199/200, successfully finishing off his CARO Rally Silver (CRS) title. Two the best of my knowledge, Romeo is now the FIRST dog from Saskatchewan to have earned his CRS title!

His second Excellent C round was qualified with a score of 195/200 and High in Class! This leg goes towards his CARO Rally Gold (CRG) title.

The C Stream titles are CARO Rally Bronze (CRB), CARO Rally Silver (CRS), CARO Rally Gold (CRG), and CARO Rally Master (CRMCh). Each level requires a dog to earn a certain number of Advanced, Excellent, and Versatility legs with scores of 190/200 or higher. No re-dos are allowed and the handlers are only allowed 3 minutes to walk the course prior to their run. Romeo was the first dog from Saskatchewan to earn his CRB back in October of 2009. There are currently (as of the date of his post) 2 dogs from Saskatchewan with C stream titles, Romeo being one, and the other a crazy cute little Schipperke named Taz.

Versatility is a level in CARO Rally-O that requires a dog to work both on the left and right side of their handler. They perform an altered Novice level course, switching from left to right and back again in a variety of ways, at least 5 times. Romeo and I have been doodling with Versatility stuff for a while now, but certainly not what I would call "serious training". I had entered him in these two Versatility rounds just to get a bench point mark of where he is at and where we need to go. Essentially "just for shits and giggles". Well let me tell you, I was certainly giggling after that was over! Not only did Romeo do VERY well in his Versatility rounds, he qualified BOTH legs with High in Class! Scores of 198/200 and 196/200. I am THRILLED! He only needs one more qualifying leg for his Versatility title. This was VERY unexpected this weekend!

I will say, though, that Versatility is a serious challenge! I found myself questioning my ability to count, my knowledge of left versus right, and, at times, my own existence. This is not for the faint of heart. But, despite my confusion and aimless wandering around the course, I found myself really enjoying the challenge. I look forward to our next attempt at the chaos and confusion that is Versatility!

Romeo after completing his CARO Rally Silver (CRS) title.

In addition to a literal stack of rosettes and qualifying flats, the boys also brought home 4 big bags of toys and treats, prizes for High in Class wins.

Gio's winnings. A High in Class rosette from Excellent B.

Romeo's winnings. A High in Class from Excellent C, two High in Class from Versatility, and a New Title rosette.

We had a fabulous time. The boys have, yet again, inflated my ego. I am not only floating, but bouncing up and down on Cloud Nine!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Romeo is Weird

I've said it many many times. And I don't think people really "get" how weird he is. Yes, he is an incredibly smart dog, flamboyant, eager, and animated. But he's just really REALLY weird, too. He does things that are just strange. Things that, I'm sure, other dogs do. But while other dogs may do a couple of strange things, he seems to do them all!

From snorkeling in water dishes to bathtub jumping to taking his frustrations out on his rage pillow.

Since people just don't seem to believe me when I say that I have the weirdest dog ever, I've decided to make my way through his list of oddities and put each one to cue. I'll make a video of each training attempt, and can then take his weirdness on the road to prove to the masses how strange he is!

So here we go, Parts I and II of "How to Train Your Dog to be Weird".

Romeo Blowing Bubbles

Romeo doing an Elvis Impersonation

Friday, April 2, 2010

Spring Cleaning

It's the Friday of the Easter long weekend and I woke up to a bright sunshiny day! Blue skies and wonderful weather. So decided it was a good opportunity to get out in the yard and start sprucing things up. There were a lot of leaves left over from the fall, and just random debris that collected during the winter.

The boys were thrilled by the clean-up efforts because it unearthed a lot of long forgotten toys that had hibernated beneath the snow all winter. So while I raked, the boys took turns dropping their newly re-found toys onto the pile of leaves, which I would then kick, to the utter delight of the Shelties, so that they didn't become buried again.

Romeo's favorite re-find was definitely his basketball. He will push this ball around and around and around the yard, ad nauseum. He kept it up for a full 2 hours while I was raking and bagging.

Kinda like this ...

Gio entertained himself with the various other balls that were unearthed, but soon tired of Romeo's obsessive "round the yard" game, mostly because I wouldn't let him bark while chasing Romeo and the ball. So instead, Gio found himself a bright sunny patch to lay down in and scratch his brain.

And supervise my labors.

I wound up getting *most* of the leaves collected, filling a grand total of 7 garbage bags. PHEW! This effort was promptly followed by a nap. I love long weekends!
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