Monthly Archives: November 2008

Thankful AND Proud!

Early on in the life of this blog, I had Billy living with me . . . the one and only puppy born at my house. I kept him until he was 14 months old, showed him to 8 Canadian points, and took him through some puppy classes. Billy told me (in no uncertain terms!) that he wanted more out of life, so I placed him with a wonderful woman and her family, and he hasn’t looked back since. I got this email from Billy’s owner this morning, and almost cried with happiness and pride. How could I ever ask for more???? I have found puppy-owner utopia!

Billy and I had a job interview yesterday and he was hired!!

Billy will be a therapy dog at St. Francis Country House, a nursing home in my old home town….. He did so well that we were offered the Dementia Wing….. Most of the folks are pretty lucid and were so excited to have a Puppy Visit….. Our new boss, the volunteer coordinator, told me that they get few visitors and that they had other dog visitors who never came back after the first visit….. I told her any place that I can take Billy where he’ll be welcomed is a place that we’ll come back to….. It was really pretty fulfilling….. A few of them reminded me of my Dad so it was really nice to be able to visit with someone who enjoyed the company and didn’t have many visitors.

Billy was so sweet and gentle and wasn’t put off by the wheelchairs or walkers or walking canes….. He had his first elevator ride with me and was so brave, he only flinched once and then just looked up at me….. We “tested” with one man who was very grumpy and said that he didn’t want company….. Billy just walked in front of me and looked up at Sam (the grumpy guy) and wagged his tail….. After about 30 seconds Sam offered him his hand to sniff….. Another lady spoke to me non-stop for 5 minutes, barely taking a breath….. Only problem was that she was speaking Italian….. I kept telling her “No Cap-Eesh” and she kept laughing and talking and pointing to Billy and talking some more….. Maybe he speaks Italian?

We’ll go every Wednesday (since I’m working a 4-day week and have off every Wednesday) and spend a few hours.

Fate put Billy’s owner in my path when I was looking for a home – well, Fate and a very, very good and special person. I may never find a puppy home as good as the one Billy has gone to, but I’m sure gonna keep looking!

My Smart Dogs!

Well, I am feeling pretty proud of my dogs this morning (although Grace is really testing my patience by stealing toast off the counter this morning). It seems that they’re all on a streak of being super smart.

Jack Jack is taking a Tricks & Treats class (just 3 sessions), and he’s doing really well with it. So far he’s learning to target to my hand, bow, spin left and right, sit up and beg and play dead. He doesn’t like to play dead, but he’s doing really well with everything else. Such a smarty pants!

Grace is doing SUPER well with agility. Last night while practising weaves, twice she went to run by the entry, and she changed her mind, changed her path, and entered correctly! It doesn’t sound like a major accomplishment, but it means she understands the weave poles and how the entry works. She loves agility so much . . . it’s definitely her “thing.”

But Farley was the smartest one of all. This morning he jumped on the recliner in front of the big TV downstairs and managed to turn it on. Since we have satellite, TV and a number of other electronic gadgets, just turning on the TV is pretty challenging. I thought that was pretty clever, but I’m not sure the trick has a lot of reproducability.

Thanks for letting me brag about my smarty-pants dogs . . . it’s not too often that all three are on a smart roll at once!

It’s All Over . . .

Yesterday was my last Rally O class . . . I had 3 courses chosen for my students (pupils?) to run through, as long as there was enough time. In an hour-long course, it can be tough to get everybody through a course a few times, change courses, and repeat the procedure. Because I haven’t set up that many courses, I’m a bit inefficient at changing over from one course to another, so it takes me longer than it would take most people.

Anyhow, everybody ran through the first course twice. The first time I allowed them to use treats, but after that I asked them to run as if it were in a trial. I followed behind, as if I were a judge (ah, the power!!! It almost went to my head!), to give them that experience. All of them did very well. I am so pleased at how far they’ve come over just 6 weeks. People really seemed to want to understand the signs and the technicalities, and how everything is meant to run.

We ended up going for about an hour and a half, if not slightly more. It had been just over an hour by the time everybody had gone through the second course, and I offered them the option of calling it a day at that point, but everybody wanted to continue on.

I have really enjoyed teaching this class, and I look forward to seeing some fresh faces in January, as well as working on trial preparation with some familiar faces.

Festival Of Trees

One of the traditions in the community that I live in is the annual Festival of Trees. It is a fundraiser for the health region, and it’s a huge deal. What happens is that several trees are decorated in a theme and then donated to the Festival of Trees. The trees are displayed for a weekend, and on the Saturday night there is a gala supper where people can bid on and purchase the trees. The fundraiser brings in a large amount of money, and people from the community flock to the display to see what the trees are every year. This year there were some awesome, awesome trees . . .

The “Let It Snow” tree, which had a theme of snow and snowmen. VERY cute! There was even a tree ornament with the words “Let It Snow” on it. I would have purchased that tree if I had the means to do so. There was a “Candy Land” tree done in red and white candy decorations. So, so cute! A Webkinz tree with 70 Webkinz, some accessories, and a laptop for the winner to register their Webkinz. There were roughly 75 trees (I could be way off base), and each one was unique and breathtaking. The peacock tree was just awesome! Sparkly and colourful.

This event was a great way for my mom and I to get into the holiday spirit today. When we got home, I was very ready to dig out the Christmas stuff and put up the tree! I hope you’re getting into the holiday spirit too!

The Continuing Adventures of ME

Last week I was in Edmonton for work. I drove down on Wednesday and had two days in a contractor’s office down there. I brought Jack and Grace with me, and stayed at Jackie’s place. We had a GREAT visit, and we got some cute pictures of Jack and his sisters. When I have some time to go through them I’ll post them. I managed to get a fair chunk of my holiday shopping done, and my mom, some friends and I saw the musical “Hairspray.” It was a great trip.

Jack had a tooth that wasn’t coming in properly, so I made an appointment with Jackie’s vet to have it pulled (he can’t be shown with a funky tooth). Her vet is at least half the price of mine, so I use them when I can. Anyhow, they were testing to see how tough it would be to get out (before putting him under), and it actually popped out with very little pressure. It was an underdeveloped tooth that wasn’t attached to the bone. So that was cheap! And now he has a gap in his mouth . . . just like a little boy that got into a fight LOL That was an adult tooth, though, so he’ll always have the gap.

Grace had a blast at Jackie’s – her daughters just love Grace, and she loves them back. She played and played and played. Jack enjoyed it too . . . he was picking on his sisters quite a bit. It was cute! Jackie and I had a fabulous visit as always.

On the Saturday night, I was driving home from supper with Jackie and the kids (but in my own car), when the pick-up truck in front of me hit a deer! The deer flipped through the air and rolled into the ditch, and the guy slammed on his brakes. I was sure that I was going to hit him, although I wasn’t too close or driving too fast (about 20kmh below the speed limit). By the grace of God I missed hitting him by no more than 4 inches. That scared the crap out of me.

Sunday I drove home (4.5 hours) – thankfully traffic was light and the roads were good.

Monday morning I woke up at 4:30am to fly to Calgary for work overnight. Normally I love traveling, but I was already so tired. But off I went. After work, my co-worker and I went to check into our hotel (that our company travel department had booked and confirmed), only to be told that they had oversold the rooms and we couldn’t have one. Oh my goodness, I was tired and cranky already, and that almost put me over the edge. We ended up in a Best Western (which is okay in itself) in a VERY dicey part of town. At least the hotel was clean, and only one guy wanted to buy drugs from us. Yikes! But it was a room. It’s almost impossible to get rooms in Calgary because the economy is still so hot and there are lots of head offices there, so at least we weren’t sleeping in the rental.

That night I took a taxi to meet some friends for supper – I almost didn’t go because my dad was going so poorly, but I don’t get to see these friends too often, so I couldn’t pass it up. I got the world’s most CLUELESS cab driver! He had never heard of the restaurant, and refused to follow my directions. I was so frustrated . . . you really have NO idea! Thankfully supper was good, and my friend and her husband drove me back to the hotel.

Yesterday was a better day, although the Denny’s did get my order wrong. At least there were no major mishaps! It was so good to get home last night!!!! I don’t expect to be traveling anymore until the new year, and that makes me VERY happy!So that’s my news . . . life continues to be crazy-busy with obedience classes and dog grooming and stuff. Grace has Tuesday night agility (we missed it last night due to my travel), Jack has Thursday night obedience (we missed last week due to my travel) and starting Friday we have 3 sessions of Tricks & Treats training (Jack and I).

Sunday is my last Rally-O class – I can’t believe it’s over already! I’ve enjoyed teaching it so much, and plans are already underway for another session in January, along with a more advanced session for my current students.

On the road again . . .

Holy smokes! I have been busy, busy, busy traveling for work, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Sigh. I just got home from Edmonton today after spending two days in a Contractor’s office in Sherwood Park. I stayed with Jack-Jack’s breeder (coincidentally also one of my best friends!), and made it into a long weekend. On Saturday I went and saw the matinee performance of “Hairspray” the musical, and had a fabulous time. I highly recommend it for anybody that either loves musicals or 60’s music, or even both. It was a blast!

Tomorrow morning I have to get up at the butt-crack of dawn (somebody else’s words, not mine) to fly to Calgary overnight. I just want to be home, in my OWN bed. I hate being on the road so much! It’s a bit ironic, really, since the idea of a lot of travel for work sounds so exotic, but in reality it’s just exhausting. I am having dinner with a couple of good friends, which makes it better, but still . . . I’d rather be home.

So if you don’t see many blog posts this week, bear with me. I do have to hang with the pooches a bit too!

Lest We Forget

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Please, take a moment to be silent and remember those that have sacrified their lives, who gave up their families and homes, or who are continuing to serve so that WE may have the freedoms that we take for granted. They deserve our thanks and recognition.

Cocker Rescue

As the holiday season begins, people seem to feel more charitable. I think it’s just something about the spirit of giving that infuses peoples’ souls. One of my big passions (as those that know me well know) is Cocker Spaniel rescue. Cocker rescue helps find homes for Cockers that would otherwise end up in shelters, possibly being euthanized due to lack of space or overcrowding. Cocker rescues are run by volunteers who give their time, money and hearts to these “throwaway” dogs. They rehabilitate them and find them loving homes.

Some of the rescues that I work with are running some holiday fundraisers.

Life’s Little Paws is running their holiday auction, which benefits several rescue groups – http://www.lifeslittlepawsauction.com. It runs until November 22, 2008.

Camp Cocker is doing a calendar fundraiser – this one is neat because a competition was run to see which dogs would be featured. JackJack and Grace are featured one month, so it is with pride that I share the end product with you – http://www.lulu.com/content/4818239

Several Cocker rescues have come together to promote Santa Paws this year – Cherished Cockers, Camp Cocker, Second Chance Cocker Rescue, Columbus Cocker Rescue and Life’s Little Paws are running a donation drive. You can send funds to Donna J at donnaj624@gmail.com. You can see the original post at http://www.zimfamilycockers.com/Forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=32947. This money could really make a difference for these rescues, and every single one featured is reputable and super hard-working.

All it takes is everybody contributing just $5 and the amount raised will grow exponentially. So please consider sharing the wealth and enhancing a Cocker Spaniel’s holiday season.

Transformation

I am so impressed with my Jack-Jack over the past couple of days that I just had to share. I know I talk far too much about my dogs, but my life is about dogs and training and sharing their lives, so you’re stuck reading about it.

I am house sitting for friends this weekend. I brought Jack and Grace to their home, to stay with their 2 Keeshonds (sort of like big, grey Samoyeds). I knew that bringing Jack into the house was going to be an issue, but he really went all out. He screamed bloody murder as soon as he walked into the house, even with the Keesies behind a baby gate. I’m sure the neighbours had the phone ready to dial 911 given the noise that he made. It was horrendous! He calmed down enough to stop shreiking, but was still very afraid. He wouldn’t go anywhere near the Keeshonds (who weren’t even paying attention to him), and was in my lap, shaking, all night. Grace was playing with Gibson (the male Keeshond) and having a blast.

Saturday morning was somewhat better, as Jack wasn’t shaking, whining or walking around with a wild-eyed look on his face. I was out running errands most of the day, so Grace and Jack were in the kennel and the Keesies were loose. Last night when I fed them and then let them out, he was able to potty in the run with the Keesies in there, which was progress.

This morning I thought I was going to cry – tears of joy, not of sadness. After eating and going outside, I was eating a cookie in the kitchen, and Jack was trying to initiate play with Gibson! He was play-bowing, wagging his tail and jumping around. Hallelujah! I know he’s not totally cured of his fear, but what a huge transformation from Friday night to Sunday morning! We’re there until Monday night, so he has some more time to realize that other dogs aren’t terrifying monsters at all, but really just fun to play with!

Ooops sorry!

Well, I have been remiss this week about not posting. Typically I don’t go this long in between updates (or pupdates, as they typically are) but things have been busy. On Sunday I taught my fourth Rally O class – I can’t believe we’re 2/3 of the way through the session now! My students seem to be enjoying the classes, and I’m having a blast teaching them. The owner of the school and I are talking about some more classes in January, so that’s a good thing.

Monday was Jack-Jack’s graduation from Junior High Obedience. From an obedience perspective, he did fabulously well. His heeling has come along nicely, and he is a very responsive dog with a nice work ethic. From a fear viewpoint, he has made some gains, but they’re not as noticeable as I’d like. Some days are better than others, but I suppose that looking at it on the bright side, at least there are some bright spots. We’re signed up for Household Obedience, which starts next week, so we’ll keep working at it. He’s so good with people and situations that I hope we can overcome this fear of other dogs.

Tuesday was Grace’s agility class. She’s always worked well for me when we’ve done obedience (she’s mostly been home-schooled), but man, she ADORES the agility. As soon as we park at the training centre her tail starts going on little circles, a mile a minute. She practically does the equipment without me, she loves it so much. So we’re having fun. We’re definitely both beginners (although I did take my Old Man Quigley through some classes) but we’re enjoying it.

Next week the class schedule changes a bit, so I’ll be teaching on Sundays (for 2 more) and in class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That spreads it out through the week a bit, which is easier for me. I promise to write more regularly then too!