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, March 31, 2008

Not Again!

On saturday, Bosley and I were walking back home from our hike in the coulees and I thought I noticed him limping ever so slightly.  I figured he had got a burr in his foot, because he had them stuck all over his fur.  We got home and I checked - no burr.  His leg seemed better during the afternoon, but by the evening he had an obvious limp.  All yesterday he was limping around.  I could not find any swollen or warm areas on the leg that seems to be bothering him.  I have been keeping him quiet and making him rest and he seems quite annoyed that I am leashing him to take him to the backyard to potty.  I kept him crated all day today when I was at work and his limp seems less pronounced right now, but he had a quick potty break and I made him lay down again so he hasn't been walking on it much.  He is still acting as goofy as ever and is trying to tease Maggie so that she will wrestle with him but there is definitely something wrong.  Hopefully it is just a strain and not an issue with his elbow (which is quite common in Bernese).  From everything I read, elbow problems usually show up by a year old, so hopefully that is not what it is.  Sure, Maggie is almost better and Bosley is hurt.   

Saturday, March 29, 2008


It's official . . . we are bored.  I have been used to going to dog classes 3 nights a week but right now we are down to 1 class which is Bosley's rally obedience class. Rally class is fun and we have lots of details to work on before Bosley can compete in advanced. We are in  between agility sessions right now so we have no agility class.  We have been working on some stuff at home, but I am kinda getting bored of working by myself.  I have been practicing fronts and finishes with both dogs.  I am trying to get Maggie to sit closer to me on her fronts.  I was using the clicker to try to get her to nose touch my tummy to make sure she gets in close enough but I clicked at the wrong time and she thought that she needed to touch me with the side of her head.  It took a while to un-teach that because she really focuses on what the clicker rewarded her for.  With Bosley I have been working on drop on recall and he is getting better.  He also learned the hand signal for down (my arm straight in the air) and his downs have been very fast using that signal because it is something new for him.  See . . . we are bored.  Maggie is going for short walks now, and her shoulder seems fine.  I will slowly start to increase the time she is walking and start some slow trotting with her. Maggie is especially bored and she spends a lot of her time barking at us, trying to get someone to play with her. Today Bosley and I went for a nice hike in the coulees behind our house.  The picture I posted is from our walk today.  I wanted to get some wildlife pictures because there are always lots of deer back there and sometimes coyotes, but my battery died so I only got one not so great picture of Bosley and one very blurry picture of a herd of deer.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How NOT To Do The Dogwalk

The following video should not be viewed by those with high blood pressure, a known heart condition, agility phobias, or by any members of extremist animal rights groups. 
Viewer discretion  is advised.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter Bunnies?

Doesn't Bosley look handsome in his pink bunny ears and bow tie?

Maggie thinks she makes a lovely "Berner Bunny".

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bosley Gets To Play

Last night was our last agility class at the barn before we move back to training outside.  Since Maggie is still resting her sore muscles, I brought Bosley out to play agility.  I wasn't sure what to expect from him because it has been a couple of months since he has done anything agility-like and he has not been on full sized equipment since the fall.  He did really well.  He was very excited to be there and tried really hard.  He loves the tunnel and only avoided a couple of jumps.  The best of all - he got to go up the A-frame.  This was by far his favorite.  He even stopped at the bottom to get his cookie.  I am really looking forward to getting him out at agility class this spring.  He is finally maturing a little bit, in both body and brain, so I think agility with him will be really fun.  I just need to remember that he needs me to be right beside him going over obstacles and that he needs lots of encouragement and reward.  I have got so used to Maggie knowing the cues and her job, that it seems strange to go back to the beginning again.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Agility Weekend

Maggie had been resting her sore leg for a week.  All the swelling was gone and she seemed to be fine. So I decided to take her to Balzac to the agility trial we were entered in.  My goals for the weekend were to push her (and myself) to get faster in a trial situation. It was my goal not to be nervous, just have fun and have some nice, quick runs.  I also wanted faster downs on the table.  Our first run was gamblers and were were both excited to be out there, but we only made it to the second obstacle - the dogwalk.  Maggie was going faster than she ever has across the top of the dogwalk and just before the descent, she mis-stepped, lost her footing and fell off.  It was not nice to watch; even now I have a hard time looking back at the video of it.  She limped for a second and then seemed fine - running and playing.  Our second run was starters standard.  We got off to a great start with Maggie flying off the start line.  However, with my goal of keeping things fast, I forgot all about good handling skills and I pushed Maggie to the wrong end of the tunnel.  She finished the rest of the course great and 2 seconds under time - the first time we have ever been under time in a standard run.Our next run was another standard run.  Maggie ran very well the entire run and nailed her weaves (which were hidden behind the A-frame in the video).  She was a little slower on the table than I would have liked but faster than in previous trials.  She did knock a bar for 5 faults.  The best part of the run? -- standard course time: 65 seconds; Maggie's time:50.66 seconds!  Woo Hoo - she was nearly 15 seconds under time - her fastest trial run   yet!Our last run was starters jumpers.  The course was very nice and open.  Maggie was a little sluggish off the start but picked up speed as we went along.  I think that her shoulder was hurting her, but she didn't show it.  She ran great, but I pulled her off a jump - I turned my shoulders before she was committed to the jump -she responded to my cue by not taking the jump.  I tried to get her back, but she back-jumped for 5 faults.  She finished well and was under time too.  After her jumpers run, I noticed that her shoulder was very hot, and I decided it was best that I pull her from running on Sunday.  I think that her previous shoulder strain combined with her fall off the dogwalk was just too much.  I think that she will need a few weeks off of agility to make sure that shoulder is totally healed.  Today she had a massage and I have started her on Traumeel, a homeopathic anti-inflammatory.  Hopefully, she will be back at agility soon, but I am going to take it slow with her. Once Maggie is back at agility again, here are the things that we need to work on:  faster table, on-side weaves (she has been popping the last pole to look for me if I don't stay ahead of her).  I really need to watch where my shoulders are and I need to make sure she is fully committed to an obstacle before giving her any new cues.  Also, I need to keep her moving but still be able to decelerate in order to give her enough time to know where we are going next.

Today I found out that Maggie and I were chosen  this weekend to receive the "Super Starters" Award.  It is given to a novice handler/dog team who work together well as a team.  I was very surprised to hear we were awarded this because we were only at one day of the trial and all the other teams are so good.  Thank You Lynda!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Things To Do When You Are Resting A Sore Leg:

. . . chew on a bully stick

. . . practice holding the dumbbell

. . . nap on mom's bed

. . . chew a bully stick

 . . . another bully stick

. . . get comfortable and relax

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Good Seminar; Bad News

This weekend we were at an obedience and agility seminar with Kiersten Lloyd.  Saturday was the obedience portion.  In the morning I took Bosley and we worked on heeling and drop on recalls.  Bosley's heeling was very nice.  He was really focused on me but was forging a bit.  I use my shoulder to get him back in position, but I need to work on him keeping the proper heel position without giving him any physical cues.  I learned that, during heeling, it is important to keep your body language consistent and calm.  I also need to take longer, faster strides with Bosley to keep him at a nice heeling pace.  When we are working on the slow portion of heeling, it is important to keep my strides long (not choppy) but slow.  Everyone seemed to improve on the slow heeling exercise when they did this.  I also need to work on my turn footwork - it is sloppy.  During the drop on recall exercise I worked each part separate because Bosley has not yet learned to combine the two.  I am going to start practicing the drop from short distances and make it a fun game for him.  The afternoon session was for dogs getting ready for their CDX.  I brought Maggie to this because Bosley has done little dumbbell work.  I have not done a lot of retrieve work with Maggie so I was interested in how she would perform.  I was actually impressed.  She retrieved the dumbbell  ( but in typical goofy Maggie style) on the flat and over the jump (we have never practice retrieving over the jump before).  She drops it when she gets to me, so we need to work on her getting comfortable holding the dumbbell until I take it from her.  We also worked on the broad jump exercise, which Maggie has not done before.  She did quite well coming back to front after the jump, but neither of us was familiar or comfortable with the exercise and we probably won't be practicing it at all, as I don't know if we will ever get to a CDX level.   The best part of the day was that Maggie nailed her stays, even the out-of-sight stays.  I was impressed with that.  Overall, the obedience seminar was very good.  We got lots of feedback on our dogs and how to improve.  
Today was the agility portion of the seminar.  Kiersten really stresses that each dog is unique and that your handling must reflect the capabilities of your dog.  I really liked this approach.  Maggie was very good today.  She tried really hard and was spunky all day.  We did a lot of handling skills, which I need, and I learned a lot.  I think that the biggest thing that I took away from the agility session, was that you are a team with your dog and you need to keep connected in order to have a good run.  Use what works for your dog, not every dog is the same.  The bad part of the day came right at the beginning of our first agility exercise.  Maggie knocked a bar (which she rarely does anymore).  We redid the exercise and she knocked the same bar again.  Right away Kiersten said "your dog is injured".  She noticed that Maggie's stride in the front was not quite right.  She was reaching farther with one leg than with the other.  She checked Maggie over and Maggie has a tender and inflammed muscle on her left right leg.  We continued with the rest of the seminar, but only jumped 10".  Maggie is on complete rest for the week and she has an appointment tomorrow to be accessed by a canine massage therapist.  I am really worried.  Maggie has been running so well lately.  We are entered in a trial next weekend and I will be disappointed if I have to pull her because I have been really excited about this trial.  I know there will be lots more trials, but everything seems to finally be coming together for us and I really wanted to get out there and go full out with her and have fun.  The health of my dog is way more important than going to a trial, but it is still really disappointing.  I am also worried that Maggie's problem may be more that just a strained muscle and that she will need to be out of agility for a while; we both really love agility.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Figuring It Out

Now that we have finally been having some nicer weather, and the snow has melted, I have been able to get out in the yard to practice weave poles with Maggie.  Bosley always comes along and he tries to do the weave poles too.  He knows those poles have something to do with getting cookies and play time.  So, to keep him happy, I have been working on the weave entrances with him.  It has been a couple months since his last agility class, and he just started on the weaves in our last session.  We used the gate method, but Bosley got spooked by the gates falling over and making noise, so he avoided the weaves for the last few classes.  Out in the yard I just wanted to work on getting him comfortable in the weaves and work on his entrances. Well, Bosley had other plans.  His entrances were getting more consistent, and I would always reward after the first two poles.  Bosley took the next step himself, and added the third and fourth pole on his own.  So I started rewarding after the fourth pole.  Now he is starting to add the fifth and sixth pole.  I mostly let him figure it out on his own, but sometimes encourage him along by leaning into him a bit to get him to go in those last two poles.  He is really catching on.  He is still not very consistent, but his entrances getting much better but he sometimes skips a middle pole.  Here is a short video of what we were doing in the yard today.  The video of him weaving away from the camera is so funny - his front gets out of the weaves about 3 poles before his butt does.  My favorite part of the video is the very last shot of him.  I am walking away on the offside of the weaves and Bosley goes out of his way to get the weave entrance.  I didn't realize he did that until I watched the video later.  Now I need to start working on the offside more.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Oh, Those Hairy Feet!

Maggie has those "troll feet" again!  It seems like we just trimmed off those toe fuzzles, and they are back.
A lady like Maggie shouldn't be forced to walk around with untidy feet like these.
Looking better - I can actually see toes again.
Finally, nice & tidy feet again.  Now if only we could do something about those messy looking ears!