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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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"Pet" Peeve

I am sure that everyone that has a dog has their little annoyances when it comes to how others perceive their breed.  It must annoy Collie owners to have their breed called "Lassie Dogs" or owners of Rotties to have people assume that their dog is mean.  This is my "Pet Peeve" :


(photo from wikipedia)

There is also a Burmese Python, but I didn't want to post a picture of a snake on my blog (sorry snake lovers).

I realize that some people do not really know the proper name, and some just don't care but it is most annoying when people who have a Bernese call them by the wrong name (I have met some)!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Food Bowl Distractions

In a short 6 weeks from now, Bosley will be competing in his first Advanced Rally Obedience trial.  Advanced Rally is all off leash, which by itself, would be fine.  The problem for Bosley and I is that Advanced Rally has the dreaded "food bowl distraction".  One of the stations is heeling in a figure 8 pattern around 2 pylons where you must pass by two food bowls with goodies in them.  Your dog is not allowed to try to eat the treats (remember, this is Bosley we are talking about, with no leash on and in the vicinity of food).  This is a huge training challenge for us.  I practice by putting yummy treats in a bowl and then covering the bowl with packing tape.  Bosley can see and smell the treats but cannot easily grab them.

Bosley has no problem ignoring the food when he is sitting or laying by the bowl.  In our house, it is the dog rules that they must wait in front of their food dish until I tell them they can eat.

Bosley will wait, patient and drooling, in front of his dish for as long as I tell him to.

Heeling with a food dish on the ground is a whole other story.  Bosley changes from a well behaved, patient dog into a food obsessed lunatic.  So we have been practicing heeling around the food bowl - with his leash on of course.  I click/treat when he walks past the bowl without looking at it.  We have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time - we need to work up to him being off-leash and in places other than the backyard and performing the exercise without a me having treats in my hand.  I hope we can manage to pull it off!

Wild Weather

So far this summer, we have had very unusual weather.  Southern Alberta usually has very hot and dry summers, but not this year.  There have been lots of thunderstorms, rain, floods, threats of tornados and hail.  Last night a  storm blew through and left lots of hail behind.  This is my deck right after the storm.

Luckily, there was no major damage, just a yard that looked like it had snowed.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mistaken Identity

This morning we got up early and took a trip to Waterton Lakes National Park to do some hiking in the mountains.

A trail through the mountains/forest.  I hope there are no bears ahead.

The dogs were very excited to be out hiking in the mountains.

We hiked up to a little waterfall that is well hidden from the main trail.  The dogs thought it was fun climbing boulders and jumping over logs to get there.  I was just happy that I didn't fall in the stream.

Here we are taking a break.  Bosley thought this nice big rock was a great place to rest.

Here is Maggie posing in front of a mountain.  Doesn't she look happy!?!

Some of the trails that we hiked today were very narrow with lots of turns and of course lots of trees.  This means that you cannot always see what is ahead of you.  We were walking down one of these trails and I could hear people on the path coming towards us.  Suddenly I heard bike tires screeching to a halt and a voice yell "Bear!" and someone sounded their air horn.  I then could see a very shocked looking young man on a bike  - so I stopped walking and looked around for the bear (we didn't want to get eaten).  The guy on the bike then yelled back to his partner "It's a dog".  Bosley was walking at the end of his leash out in front of us and the guy saw Bosley come out around a corner before he saw the rest of us.  The biker came up and laughed nervously, saying he was sorry that he thought Bosley was a bear.  I think that Bosley nearly scared the pants right off of that guy!

Here is Bosley today . . .
. . .  and here is a real bear that we saw today.
Maybe someone could confuse the two?  By the way, we saw this bear from the safety of the car.  I am sure glad we didn't run into him on the trail.

The puppies are all tired out from their hiking trip today and have been sleeping ever since we got home, even Maggie.  Maybe I should take them on more mountain hikes.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Agility Practice

Last night, Maggie's agility class got rained out - or rather - hailed out, so a few of us got together tonight to practice for a while.  This was our first practice since the trial last weekend.  After a trial, I always have a lot of things that we need to work on.  So tonight Maggie and I worked on contacts.  "Why is that", you ask?  Well, this picture from last weekend's trial says it all:

Maggie should be running all the way to the bottom of the contact.  This is NOT what running to the bottom looks like:

So tonight we did very basic contact work.  I did the "happiest place on earth" game with Maggie, which she loves.  Then I started asking her to do the entire piece of equipment, asking for a bottom.  When I am standing right with her, she will run to the bottom, but as soon as I start moving, she jumps off to run with me.  This will be a work in progress for a while.

I also did some table work with Maggie.  She is still slow to lay down on the table during trials, so I am trying to make the table really fun for her.  We have a CKC agility trial coming up in a couple of weeks and in CKC the dogs are sometimes asked to to a "sit" on the table.  Maggie has never been asked to sit on the table, so I thought I would try it.  She was very confused at first and would sit but would lay down again right away.  I am sure she was convinced that I was trying to trick her.  Anyway, after a few tries, she was sitting on the table with no problem.  I actually think that she thought it was some kind of game because she suddenly became very excited to "sit" or "down" on the table.

I also worked rear crosses with Maggie.  I need to do rear crosses so rarely with Maggie, because I can usually get ahead of her, so they are awkward for both of us.  By the end of our little session tonight, Maggie was really catching on and I think that my timing is getting better.  We still need lots of practice though.

Bosley came out to do a bit of practice too.  I also worked rear crosses with him.  I want to make sure that when it is time for him to trial, that he can do front and rear crosses equally well.
Bosley  did some teeter work.  He really loves the teeter now, and he did not fall off or try to jump off at all tonight.  He also stops at the bottom and waits to be released!  
Bosley also got to practice the weaves.  He is really getting the hang of weaving now and is trying to pick up speed as he goes through them.   His entrances are very good, and will usually get the entrance on the first try.  He will still sometimes miss a middle pole, especially when he gets going fast.  He really tries hard in the weaves and next to the table, it is probably his favorite agility thing.

As you can see with Bosley, I am really working hard with him on the areas that Maggie has the most difficulty with.  Contacts, rear crosses and a quick table are all things that Maggie and I struggle with, but these are some of Bosley's  strongest areas in agility (well so far anyway - we will see what happens when he starts sequencing more). 

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rally Practice Video

Last night Amanda video taped our last class of our latest session of Rally Obedience.  Bosley's heeling was pretty good, but he was really struggling with his fronts and finishes last night and I am not sure why.  I guess we will need to work on his left finishes a bit more.  

My favorite parts of the video are the left 360 turn (Bosley is really keeping his butt in) and the Schutzhund turn.  

It seems as if my "treat in the crate" reward system is starting to backfire on me.  I was using this to keep Bosley motivated during his runs and to know that he would get his treats when he was done working rather than while he was working.  Well, during our first run through last night, which was not taped, Bosley would not concentrate on what we were doing.  He kept looking at his crate and was trying to get back to his crate and eat his cookies.  Now that we are in Advanced Rally and it is all off-leash, this is not a good thing.  All I need in the middle of a  trial is for Bosley to go sprinting back to his crate to eat his goodies.  I guess it is back to the drawing board to work on a reliable reward system for him.  He is just so food crazy (see previous "cake eating" post), that he will do anything to get his food, even if that means blowing me off and running out of the ring.  I am really wondering now how we will get past the food bowl distraction that are a part of every Advanced Rally trial.  Maybe we will be competing in Advanced Rally for a very long time.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bosley's Agility Weekend

Bosley is not ready to enter an agility trial yet, but he came along with us to the trial this weekend.  He had a fun weekend.  He  visited lots of people.  He met some new dogs.  He ate cake.  Yes, you read that right.  He ate cake.  To congratulate all of the teams who qualified to go to Nationals, there was a large carrot cake set out for people to help themselves and Bosley did just that.  I was walking with Bosley , obviously not paying too much attention, and as we walked past the cake he reached over and grabbed a big bite out of it.  Bad Bosley!  

Bosley was tired out from his busy weekend of socializing, mooching treats and eating cake.  He went home on Sunday and relaxed in his favorite chair.


Getting Sleepy.

I Really Need My Rest.

Sleeping - Dreaming About Cake.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Nice Weekend For Agility

Our agility club hosted a trial this weekend.  Everything seemed to go very smoothly and everyone from our group did very well.  For a few of the dogs and handlers, it was their very first trial, and they all did great.  I think that everyone had fun, which is what it is really all about - right?

Maggie and I had a weekend that I felt really good about.  The weather was warm, but a nice cool breeze kept Maggie from becoming too hot and sluggish.  We got 2 "Q"S this weekend - one in Starters Snooker and one in Advanced Gamblers.

Here is Maggie in our gamble, heading towards the tunnel.

I went into the run quite doubtful if Maggie could get the closing gamble.  The closing gamble was the A-frame and then a push about 15' away from me into a tunnel.  After the tunnel were two jumps, moving slightly away from the gamble line.  She did great in the opening sequence and in the final gamble she went over the A-frame and then came towards me, but when I sent her out to the tunnel, she went and then took the last two jumps with no problem.

This is a nice shot of Maggie turning to go up the A-frame.

Our Snooker run went great.  Maggie was really focused on what I was asking her to do, something that has never happened in a Snooker run before.  I think that I was much more confident and that really helped.  I picked a nice flowing path for Maggie, although there were some tough angles to manvouver.  We even made it all the way to the end of the last obstacle in the closing sequence with 14 seconds to spare!  We needed 37 points to qualify and we finished with 46 points.

I love this picture of Maggie going up the A-frame.  Her expression is great!

With the exception of one Steeplechase run (Maggie ran off the course) the rest of our runs were quite good.  Maggie stayed upbeat for most of the weekend.  

Maggie had a great Steeplechase run today and, even though I forgot where I was going, Maggie ran clean but was 10 seconds over time.

Love the Expression.

She had one really nice standard run, but knocked a bar and missed a contact.  Despite the faults, she gave it her best and was 10 seconds under time.

Going down the A-frame.

The highlight of our weekend was that Maggie was chosen for the Judges Choice Award.  Each of the judges chooses a dog or a run that stood out in their mind over the weekend.  Maggie was chosen, by judge Shirley Ann Redl, for her Snooker run!  The Snooker course had some very tight and awkward angles and the judge liked how Maggie, being a big dog, negotiated the tight turns and changes in direction.  I know that Maggie cannot make tight turns like the smaller dogs can, so I always try to give her lots of room to get a nice approach to obstacles and it really paid off today in our Snooker run.

Oops!! Looks like Maggie forgot to touch the yellow.

Many thanks to Wendy for taking all the great pictures.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a bit of an Ebay junkie.  I try not to order too much stuff online, but sometimes I just can't help myself.  I mostly try to restrict my Ebay buying to practical things, but sometimes I buy things just for fun.  Today I received a "Luftpost" or Airmail package from Germany.  What was inside?

Inside was an original Ostheimer Berner Sennhund.   The Ostheimer company has been making hand carved and hand painted children's toys for over 40 years. I know it is not very practical, but, isn't he cute!

I think I am going to start buying more things from Germany.  It took less than 2 weeks for the parcel to arrive here.  I have waited longer for items that I have ordered from Canada.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Walk In The Mud

Yesterday it rained . . . a lot, so today's walk was very muddy.  This is what we looked like after we got home.

Maggie and her muddy paws.  Maggie spent the whole walk trying to bite the mud out from between her toes.

Bosley does not care if his feet get muddy.  He actually looks happy to be covered in mud.

More muddy Bosley feet.

Of course the leashes were covered with mud too.

As were my shoes . . . 

. . . and my socks.

When we got home this is what my pants looked like:

And my knee:

My pants and knee, although torn and bleeding, are not very muddy.  Why is that?  Well, we came up to a very muddy spot in the field and Bosley started to leap through it.  Maggie thought this meant she should take off running. Leaping Bosley + Running Maggie = Me Falling.  Do I fall in the mud?  No, I fall in the one patch of dry gravel that is in the entire field.  Go Figure!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Did You Get Me Anything?

Late last night we returned from a weekend in Las Vegas.  No, the dogs didn't get to go.  They wouldn't have liked it there anyway - it was way too hot (110 degrees).  They were much happier hanging out at home.

As soon as the suitcases were ready to be unpacked, Bosley was there.  "Did you bring me anything?"

"You must have brought me something!?!"

Sorry Bosley, in addition to "high fashion" for people, there was also:

..."haute couture" for dogs.

At Mandalay Bay, there was a dog store filled with very nice, but expensive doggie things.  These collars were nice, but were all between $60 - $80.  There were also some collars that had Swarovski crystals on them - I didn't ask how much they were.

There was also doggie art.

Of course there were doggie clothes (not that dogs in Vegas need to wear sweaters) and doggie toys.

So the poor dogs did not get anything from Vegas.  Oh well, I think that they were just happy to have us back at home.