This is a personal weblog based on my life with Bernese Mountain Dogs. The opinions expressed here represent my own and and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of any clubs, organizations or committees that I may be associated with. Please feel free to comment on any post, but profane, abusive or rude comments will not be tolerated - please be polite, even if you disagree.
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Monday, January 28, 2008

Goin' Carting

A couple of months ago, I took Bosley to a carting seminar.  I always thought that carting would be a fun activity to do with a dog, and I thought that Bosley would be good at it.  Bernese were bred to do draft work, but Maggie is a little too crazy to be a steady draft dog and, due to a Star Wars light saber incident when she was a puppy,  she is scared of anything "stick like", so I think that getting her to stand between two cart shafts would be near impossible.  Bosley, on the other hand, is more mellow and better suited to draft work.  So, I went to the seminar, learned lots and was very excited to start working.  However, to do any sort of carting, there are three things that you need:  a dog, a carting harness and a cart.  Well . . . I had the dog.   Today, I am very happy to say that we finally have a harness!!!  My friend Amanda had a carting harness and she is letting Bosley and I use it.  So now we are 2/3 of the way to starting carting.  I should be able to get a practice cart made, and then we will be on our way.  Thanks Amanda!!!! 

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Obedience Fun Match

This morning I took the dogs to an obedience fun match.  I entered both of them in Novice and in Rally.  Novice was first and both dogs did well.  Bosley had a rough start in the "heel on leash", he was too busy sniffing and looking around to pay attention to me.  The "figure 8" was a bit better and his "heel free" was pretty good (at that point he realized that I had treats in my pocket, so I am sure that is why he was suddenly more attentive).  He had a great recall and didn't break his long sit or long down.  We need to work more on "stand for exam".  He was wondering what a stranger was doing touching him, and he moved his back feet trying to look back at the judge.  Overall, he did quite good considering it was his first full Novice run through.  I do need to warm him up more before we get into the ring.  Once he realized we were out there to work, he did much better.  If he is not focused on me before we get into the ring, it is hard to get his attention once we get started.
Maggie had a good Novice run too.  She lagged a bit in  the "heel on leash", but that was my fault.  I was walking too slow and she was bored.  Once we got to the "figure 8" and "heel free"and I picked up my pace and she was great.   Her "recall" was good (sometimes she is slow coming to me, but today she wasn't) but I messed up the "finish" by double commanding.  I knew the second that I did it that I made an error - oops!  To finish off her run, she didn't even break her "long sit".  Lately she has been laying down during her sit-stay, but today she actually stayed sitting for the full minute!  I was very happy with Maggie's run, and to top it off, she got "High Score" in Novice.  When the judge called her number I was looking around to see who it was; it took me a minute to realize that it was actually Maggie!
We also did a small Rally course, which was fun and well needed practice.  Maggie did pretty good.  Bosley was still sniffy (no real warm-up).  I did get some good tips from the judge and that should help us out at the Rally trial that is coming up next weekend (yikes, less than a week to get ready).  
The dogs got rewarded for their good efforts with a nice long run in the coulees.  The weather was turning cold and nasty, so of course that made the run all the better for them.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Agility Outreach Seminar Weekend

Maggie and I spent the weekend at an agility seminar so today I am very tired and I am still trying to wrap my thoughts around everything that I learned and what I need to work on.  My "need to work on" list seems never-ending.  Everything from basic handling, to teaching contacts, to jump work and teeter games. Yikes!!!! Where do I start.  Maggie has come such a far way in agility in the past year, and I have been so happy with that, but this seminar made me realize that we still have a long way to go.  For Maggie, it seems that the most important thing I need to work on with her is "rear-end work".  She does have some structural issues (bowed back legs), that cause her jumping to be less effortless than it should be, so I need to work on building up strength in her rear.  I also need to decide what my criteria for her contact behaviour is.  I have never really done a "2 on 2 off" with her; she is usually very careful on the contacts and does not often miss a contact (although it has happened).  I will need to decide if I want to re-train a strict "2 on 2 off" or continue with the running contact, even though I have been doing that wrong too.  For myself - I have a lot of handling issues.  We did a handling exercise, and I pretty much did everything wrong that there was to do wrong.  I did learn that Maggie can read a serpentine cue, even though I did not mean to cue it (I was really just trying to layer a jump-just one of many of my errors- which is a big no no).  Yesterday, after the seminar was over, I was pretty discouraged thinking about all the negative feedback on my comment sheet.  Today I realize that I learned a lot and I am excited to get out and start practicing some of the things that I have to work on.  There is really only one thing that still bothers me a bit.  The seminar instructor said "Bernese are really good at pulling carts, but were not bred to be jumpers" . . . . Hmmmm.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Kolbee Dec.15,1996 - Jan.17,2008

Last night we took Kolbee back to the vet.  She was still not eating and her stomach was very swollen.  The vet took some X-rays and the news was bad.  Kolbee had fluid build-up in her chest and abdomen more than likely caused by heart and kidney failure.  They also found a large, fast growing tumour in her abdomen.  Today the decision was made to euthanize her; there was nothing more that could be done for her.  Poor girl.  I am sure she is up in doggy heaven, sitting in her favorite chair with her favorite yellow duck by her side.  We will miss her.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Working On "Rally" Stuff

I have Maggie and Bosley entered in the upcoming CKC Rally Obedience trial, so I have been working on getting them ready.  We have been doing lots of "heel" work, both on and off leash and  I have been trying to get faster sits and down by using the clicker.  With Maggie I have really been working on her "moving down", which has been a real challenge.  She is very slow going into a down and when she does, she always moves out in front of me instead of staying in a heel position.  I have been practicing dropping her into a down when she is heeling next to a wall, so that she cannot swing out, but as soon as the wall is not there she goes back to moving in front of me again.  Her speed is also frustrating, but I don't think that she really understands what it is that I want, so hopefully if she figures that out, the speed will follow.  With Bosley I have been trying to work on keeping his attention on me when we are heeling (which is usually quite good) so I really want to get out and practice this in new places.  We are also working on his turns, especially left turns, where he tends to bump me.  Luckily, there are no pivots in novice CKC rally, because he still needs some work on those.  Other than that, I am just trying to get him to be cleaner and straighter in his sits and finishes.  For both dogs I need to work on the "1..2..3 step".  I have blown this in past trials and I don't want to do it again, it is lousy to blow a 'Q' because of that.  The trial is only 3 weeks away so I have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time.  Yikes!!!!

Kolbee is Home

Kolbee is home with a ton of medicine to take and a bland diet to eat.  The vet still thinks she is sick because of an ulcer, but without an ultrasound (which involves a trip to Calgary) she can't be 100% sure.  Kolbee is still not back to her old self and not too interested in eating, but hopefully the medicine will start working soon and she will start feeling better.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Not Every Dog In Our House Is A Berner

Kolbee is an 11 year old Shar-pei who has been living with us since August.  Originally, she was Colin's(my better half??) dog, but she lived with his mom to keep her company.  When Colin's mom passed away in the summer, naturally, Kolbee came to live with us.  She fit right in, being a quiet compliment to the crazy Berners.  Kolbee is a typical Shar-pei - very proud, independent and protective of her family. 
Since she moved in with us she, at times, seemed a little sad which is understandable.  She was throwing up some, which we attributed to the stress of the move.  Over the past couple of weeks she has been throwing up more and during the past week she has been eating very little.  Last night she would not even take a treat and seemed very depressed.  Today she went to the vet and it seems like she may have a bleeding ulcer.  I think that it may be from the prednisone that she has been taking for the past couple of years for a condition that causes her legs to swell with fluid.  It was two weeks ago that her legs were very swollen and the vet gave her a new prescription .  Within days of starting the medicine the vomiting began.  Poor Kolbee.  I am not sure what her prognosis is - she is staying at the vet overnight hooked up to an IV.  Colin is quite upset.  Kolbee is the first dog that he ever had and she looked after his mom so well.  Hopefully we will know more tomorrow.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Lean, Mean, Berner Machine

Ok, ok,  "mean" does not fit  a description of Maggie, but "lean" now does.  About six months ago at agility class, it was decided that Maggie needed to lose a couple of pounds.  She was not fat, but had a little more weight than she should have for a dog who participates in a high impact sport.  So I cut back Maggie's food and once the cooler weather was here, she was more than happy to have an increase in exercise.  I began to notice that she was less sluggish going over the jumps at agility and overall a little more spunky in class. Today I took her for a weigh-in at the vet's office.  At her last checkup in June she weighed 85.5 pounds.  Today . . . . . 76.5 pounds!  She has lost 9 pounds in the past 6 months!  I am sure Maggie wishes that she had more food, but she still gets treats everyday.  She looks fit and healthy and has energy to spare.  

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Bosley, The Lap Dog?

Bosley does not seem to know he is big. He thinks he is a lap dog.  He loves to cuddle and will crawl into your lap to be closer to you and he is so sweet it is hard to kick him off (even when he is squishing you so much you can barely breathe).   Here is a picture of Bosley making himself at home on my sister's lap.  This is the first time he has seen my sister (who lives on Vancouver Island) since the first weekend we brought him home as a little puppy.  I guess he was making up for lost cuddles.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


I got my first Bernese, Maggie in the spring of 2005.  I was expecting a mellow, laid-back Berner puppy - wow, was I in for a surprise!  Maggie was anything but mellow, she perhaps could have been one of the baddest puppies ever in the history of puppies.  She had so much energy (think Border Collie without the focus), even with lots of daily exercise, that I am still not sure how I survived those puppy days.  I enrolled Maggie in puppy obedience classes and then in basic obedience.  Maggie was a quick learner and I was enjoying classes as much as she was.  I was hooked and decided that one day we were going to compete in obedience.  I also was looking for a more physical outlet for Maggie's energy and I had always thought agility was interesting so we signed up for a level one class and we had such a great time learning new skills and working on new challenges that I got addicted to agility too.  

So now that I had high aspirations of competing in obedience and agility, I wante
d to add a
 second dog to the mix (everyone thought I was crazy).  I got Bosley in the fall of 2006.  Bosley came from a wonderful breeder who chose him for me based on the information that I was looking for an obedience dog.  Bosley could not have been a more perfect match.  Mellow, yet a willing learner, Bosley is my "velcro dog".  He rarely leaves my side and has a great work ethic. 

So, those are my dogs.  I hope to share many stories of what it is like to live with them and to work with them.