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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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sad :-(

Today my daughter and I made a trip to Great Falls, Montana to do some shopping. (The dogs had to stay at home). It is her grade 12 graduation this year, so we went to look at grad dresses and do some other shopping. We were downtown in Great Falls at a dress shop and right across the street was a pet store.  I, of course, wanted to look in it to see if I could find anything for Maggie and Bosley that I cannot get here in Lethbridge.  We walked across the street and I saw they were selling live puppies which were displayed in the window.  I said we shouldn't go in because I won't buy anything from a store that sells live animals anyway, but my daughter wanted to take a quick look at the puppies.  So we went in.  It was horrible!  It was a very tiny store, that smelled terrible.  There were probably about 50 puppies in the store, stuffed in tiny cages that were about 3 feet x 3 feet in size.  There were all kinds of breeds - chihuahuas, pugs, pomeranians, corgis, fox terriers, a bull dog, maltese and so many others.  Most of  the puppies just laid in their cages, looking depressed. The fox terrier spent his whole time scratching to get out.  Some puppies had nails so long that they were starting to curl under.  The very saddest were 2 beautiful Irish Setters.  They were about 4 or 5 months old and barely fit inside their little cage.  They were practically laying on top of each other, because there was so little room. It was heartbreaking. While we were there a lady was cleaning out the puppy cages.  With one hand she used a piece of cardboard to shove the puppies to one corner and with the other hand she scooped out all the old, shredded paper and then replaced it with new paper.  Not once did she touch the puppies or even talk to them. Poor puppies. One thing in the store struck me as very ironic.  There was a  little, handwritten sign that said "All puppies that are AKC registered will be sold with a spay/neuter contract".  Hmmmm.  I guess that is because they care so much about the pet overpopulation problem???? 
So sad :(

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Peanut Butter Bosley

Bosley loves to lick out the empty peanut butter containers.

His tongue can almost reach the bottom.


Monday, February 25, 2008

New Neighbours

We have lived in our house for 5 years now, and for that entire time, Maggie and Bosley have been the only dogs on our street (well, except for the cute little pug that lives further down the street, but we rarely see him and never hear him).  We have no back lane so our yard backs directly onto our neighbour's yard in the back, which means when we go out on our deck, we have full view of the  neighbours on either side of us and the 3 neighbours directly behind us. Everyday Bosley goes out on the deck and survey's "his" territory and will loudly announce when anything is out of place (such as kids playing on the trampoline in the yard behind us, or the neighbour's cat peeking out the window next door.  Now imagine Bosley's surprise when he went outside Saturday to see a giant Cane Corso in the yard next door.  He howled like I have never heard him howl before!  He ran down the stairs to check out "the invader" but we have a solid fence, so once he goes down the stairs into the yard, he can no longer see into the neighbour's yard.  I called him back in right away and the new neighbours did the same with their dog.  Bosley was not happy.  He has not seen the new dog since (the Masiff seems to be kept inside most of the time, as our dogs are) but when Bosley goes out, he runs to sniff along the fence just to see if he is there.  I sure hope Bosley gets used to his new neighbour soon.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Will You Share . . . Please???

In Bosley's earliest puppy days, before he came to live with us, he must have taken some puppy charm classes, aka, "humans are suckers" lessons.  Bosley is a world class beggar when it comes to getting something that one of us are eating.  He does not beg in the typical way that you picture a dog begging for food.  No whining, no barking, no hopping up and down.  He simply rests his head on your lap and gives you the "eyes".  As long as you don't look directly at him, you are fine;  but the second you look into those big, sad, puppy dog eyes, you are transformed from a strong willed "the dogs will not get any people food" into a "just one won't hurt" person, aka "sucker".  If you don't believe me, bring over your bag of Doritos and give it a try.  Bosley won't mind!
How can you resist a face like this?!?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Agility Trial

Yesterday a few of us went to Calgary for a day of agility.  Overall, I was quite pleased with Maggie this weekend.  This was only our 4th trial, so we are both getting used to the whole competing thing.  Our advanced gamblers run was first.  It was a little rough for both of us.  We got enough points in the opening (barely), but did not get the closing gamble.  I am not sure why, it was fairly straightforward.  Tunnel - jump - tunnel.  Maggie did the first tunnel and the jump, but went out too far and went behind the second tunnel.  Our second run was starters standard.  Maggie ran quite well on this but had a few errors that cost us the "Q".  She hesitated on the table, which she does in every trial.  I am not sure why this is, she is fine with the table in practice.  She popped a pole in the weaves and her fly-off the teeter in class the other night, made her hesitate going on the teeter.  These little things added up in time and we missed a "Q" by 0.67 seconds.  Next, we ran in the team event.  This is the first time we ran team.  We paired up with Jolayne and Tag and it was a lot of fun.  Both Jolayne and I care more about having a good run with our dogs than getting a "Q" so that took some of the pressure off if one of our dogs(or us) messed up.  Maggie and Tag also make a good team, with Tag being very fast and Maggie being slower.  Our last run was steeplechase.  This was also the first time that we entered in steeplechase.  It was so much fun, and the best that Maggie has ever run at a trial. We started off OK, then Maggie had a bobble in the weaves(there were some nice horse smells in the back corner that she was interested in) so I called her back and she back-weaved, which of course, earned us an elimination.  I took that opportunity to give her some encouragement and sent her back through the weaves.  She flew the rest of course!  It was a great way to end the day.  I will take an enthusiastic run over a half-hearted "Q" anyday.  The best thing about trials is that they really show you what you need to work on in practice.  We need to work on a faster table, weave entries (she missed a couple yesterday) and the teeter - again.  I was worried that her fly-off the teeter would cause a problem, and it did, but as much as she wanted to avoid the teeter yesterday she did what I asked so I am proud of her for that.  She also got all her contacts, but I was always right there to make sure she made it to the yellow.  She was very consistant and did not knock any poles.  If we can get everything together, someday we might get out of starters.  But for now, I want her to have fun when we are trialing and get some good, enthusiastic runs.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Maggie !

Maggie says: "Where is the birthday cake"?
Today Maggie is 3 years old.  She is really becoming a very good, although sometimes weird dog (read yesterday's blog).  Long gone are the naughty puppy days.  Maggie is now a "mature" 3 year old.  Happy Birthday Maggie !!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Odd Behaviour

OK, the weirdest thing just happened.  Maggie asked to go outside so I let her out.  As soon as she got out the door she was acting like she was very scared of something.  She was staring at the ground and seemed kind of spaced out and jumpy.  I brought her in the house and she was still staring down at the floor as if something there was going to jump out and get her.  I checked her gums and they were very pale.  I talked to her and petted her and she finally came out of her "trance". Her gums were back to normal colour.  I immediately thought that she was having some sort of seizure.  There is a seizure known as "Fly Snapping Syndrome" where the dog sees and bites at things that are not really there.  It is relatively common in Bernese.  A couple minutes later Maggie asked to go outside again, and the same thing happened.  This time she avoided the "scary" thing on the deck and went down to the yard.  She was still acting terrified staring at the ground.  I went out to help her.  I looked on the ground and saw what I thought were clumps of fur (not unusual in our backyard), but when I looked more closely I saw they were feathers - the soft downy feathers from a bird.  Maggie was scared of them.  I picked some up and tried to show her they were OK and after a couple of minutes she was more relaxed and was brave enough to bark at them, but not totally convinced that they were not "out to get her".  Bosley came by, sniffed them and wondered what all the fuss was about.  Weird!

Back To Basics

At the agility seminar a few weeks ago, we spent a lot of time talking about teaching contacts and how important it is to have a good, solid, contact with your dog.  I fully agreed, but Maggie's contacts were just fine the way they were (running off the bottom).  Maggie rarely missed a contact and since she is not a fast dog, and careful on the contact equipment, I never worried about teaching a really good "bottom".  Well, it seems that all has changed.  Last week at agility class we were timing how long it takes our dogs to get across the contact equipment. Maggie (as far as Maggie goes) was fast.  So fast that she missed nearly all her contacts on the dog walk and even some on the A-frame.  So we did some quick review of where the bottom of the contact is and moved on.  Last night in class Maggie was fine on the A-frame, but missed her contacts on the dog walk, and not just by a little bit.  Unless I was right at the bottom waiting for her, she jumped right off from well above the yellow.  And then there was the teeter.... for a minute Maggie forgot she was a dog and was convinced that she was a bird.  She flew off in a spectacular eagle-like form, and then came back to doggie reality when she hit the ground, butt first.  Oh my . . . do we have some work to do!  I guess I never really expected Maggie to gain so much confidence and speed on the equipment and I never really thought that we would have contact problems (those are other dog's problems, aren't they?).  So I guess it is back to square one with contact training.  

Friday, February 8, 2008


When you have two Berners, you vacuum . . . a lot!  Vacuuming at our house is always a very noisy event and it is not just because the vacuum is loud.  The dogs are even louder.  Maggie is scared of the vacuum but not scared enough to stop her from barking at it continually.  Bosley thinks the vacuum is great fun, so he barks at it while chasing and biting it.  It is enough to drive anyone a little crazy!  Check out the video of the chaos.  Maggie is in the first shot, but as soon as the vacuum turns on, she disappears.  You can still hear her constant barking though...

Monday, February 4, 2008

Rally Obedience Weekend

This weekend we headed up to the Alberta Kennel Club's show in Calgary.  Both Maggie and Bosley were entered in the rally obedience trials on Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday's trial was OK but not great.  I was nervous (as usual) and both dogs were a bit distracted by the new surroundings.  Rally obedience is scored out of a maximum of 100 points, with points deducted for each error (dog or handler).  A minimum 70 points is needed to qualify.  Maggie got 86 points and Bosley 82 points.  Sunday's trial was much better.  I was barely nervous and the dogs were more comfortable and familiar with the ring area.  Both dogs had some very nice heeling and both got their "moving down".  This is what I was most worried about with Maggie, but she pulled it off.  Bosley only stopped to sniff one sign (which was a big improvement over Saturday).  Maggie finished with 94 points (tied for 4th place) and Bosley had 93 points (5th place).  There were 25 dogs entered in our class, so I was extremely happy with their final placements.  So both Maggie and Bosley now have their Rally Novice titles and can start training for the Advanced level.  This will be challenging as it is all off-leash and there are food distractions involved.