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, September 23, 2008

One Of These Is Not Like The Others;

One of these things doesn't belong...

This is a typical scene in the parking lot at any agility trial.  Many campers, vans and SUVs all lined up nicely.  Now which of these vehicles pictured do you think that the Berners get the luxury of riding in?  A nice motorhome?  Nope.  A roomy SUV?  Nope.  A little Mazda?  Correct!  

Yes, it is true.  I usually have one of the smaller cars at any trial, if not the smallest and I usually have some of the biggest dogs.  Believe it or not, I can fit both my dogs, a shade tent, camping chairs, 2 crates plus all the dogs' stuff and everything that I need for a weekend away from home.  I have not yet figured out how to fit Bosley's cart in with us - I guess I will need to rethink my packing plan.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Maggie's Secret to an Agility 'Q'

This weekend, we loaded up the car and headed to Medicine Hat for a fun weekend of agility.

Maggie had a pretty good weekend.  She didn't miss any contacts and only knocked one or two poles all weekend.   She didn't miss one weave entrance (which we have been working on) but her weaves were painfully slow.  Only one time all weekend did she actually weave with any enthusiam.  It was very frustrating because I know she can fly through the weaves, but at trials she acts like she just learned to weave yesterday.  Her table was not so good either, I was surprised at that because in her last couple trials she did not hesitate on the table at all.

Saturday we had 3 standard runs and a jumpers run.  Her standard runs were pretty good - a few rough spots in each of them and some really good spots too.  As the day got warmer, Maggie got slower (it's the end of September, it's not supposed to be hot).  Her last run of the day was novice jumpers.  Jumpers is always a hard course for us (it has all those jumps) and the course time is quite fast.  Maggie is not the fastest dog and jumping is not her strongest feature.  Right before we went into the ring, Amanda helped me hose Maggie down (hosing Maggie is at least a two person job) to help cool her off.  Maggie's jumpers run was very nice - smooth and it felt good and we actually got a 'Q'!  Our very first jumpers 'Q' and Maggie was 9 seconds under time.  This was the last 'Q' we needed for Maggie's Starters Game Title.

Sunday was "games day".  We started with Gamblers.  I picked an opening sequence to run with Maggie but then changed it and then changed it again (with the help and advice of others).  Maggie was flying through the opening sequence, so much so that I ran out of all the obstacles that I had planned to do and then just had to make things up until the whistle blew.  The whistle finally blew so we could start our closing gamble.  The closing gamble was a tire and then two jumps that were all in a straight line.  However, between the line of jumps and the gamble line was the dogwalk.  I sent Maggie to the tire and she flew down the "homestretch", over the second jump and the went to take the last jump and pulled off of it at the last second.  I didn't even care - she ran so great the whole run and her distance from me was great.  I was very pleased - it was probably our best run of the weekend.

Next we had team.  We were paired with Jolayne and Tag.  It took me a long time to enter the team runs, but I really like it.  It is most likely because we have such good team partners.  Tag and Maggie both ran well, but we had a couple of "oops" moments on both our sides, so no team 'Q', but it was lots of fun.  Tag is so fast, I always just watch him in amazement, wishing he could send a wee bit of enthusiasm for the game Maggie's way.

Steeplechase was next.  It was a fun course - very open and fast.  Maggie picked up speed as she went along but she knocked a bar and had some trouble in the weaves.  

Our last run was Snooker.  I am really starting to like Snooker, now that I have the game figured out.  It is fun to watch - I like to see the different strategies and people get very animated as they try to get their dog though the opening sequence without "breaking the rules".  It is also interesting to see people think on their feet when something unexpected happens.  In Maggie's run, I found a path (with Sarah's help) that would be fairly flowing for Maggie.  If we got everything as planned in our opening, I would need to get to the end of 6 in the closing sequence to get a 'Q'.  Right before entering the ring, Maggie got another hose down, and she went in with a lot of pep.  Our opening sequence went smooth and just as planned.  I knew the clock was ticking down so we started our closing and I took off running.  Maggie was feeling good and she ran very well (even getting the weaves). We started the number 6 sequence (a 3 jump pinwheel) and just as Maggie's feet touched down over the 3rd jump, the time buzzer went.  I wasn't sure if we made it in time, but we did - the judge called out the last 6 points we needed to qualify. 

So what is Maggie's secret to an Agility "Q"?  Well, this weekend it was a good soak down with a water hose.  Maggie says she hates being soaked down, but she feels so much better after.  It is like a doggie version of Red Bull - it gives you wings!

Maggie and her "Q" ribbons and her title ribbon!

Hip-Hip Horray!

Maggie jumping - I think this was steeplechase.  
I sure do have "pointy fingers" when I am running.  Even the hand that is not directing Maggie is pointing.  Maybe that is why Maggie sometimes runs so slow.  She is looking at my pointing fingers trying to figure out which pointing hand she should be paying attention to.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


We have a big, not so friendly dog that lives next door to us.  Bosley does not like her and she apparently feels the same about Bosley.  When she moved in earlier this year, it was everything that I could do to try to keep the two of them from fighting through the fence.  I finally put up a small wire fence to keep Bosley away from the real fence.  This seemed to be working well and diffused most of the conflict.  The other day, part of my wire fence came apart and Bosley got through to the other side and the fight was on.  I fixed the fence but Bosley remembered where the weak spot was.  Today he jumped over the fence at the previously broken spot - not to fight with the dog - but rather to chase a bird that was sitting on the real fence, taunting him.  Well, it didn't take long before the neighbour dog spotted Bosley and ran to the fence barking, and the fight was on . . . again. The other dog is very strong and can push the fence boards until they bow.  If she ever breaks through, it will not be Bosley who wins.  It took all my strength, and a lot of yelling at Bosley, to get him away from the other dog and back over the wire fence and in the house.

This is what Bosley's nose now looks like.  It has stopped bleeding now, but it is all raw from him smashing it against the cedar fence.  I guess I need to figure out a new solution to try to keep the peace between these two dogs.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dog Days Of . . . Autumn

In only a few days, it will officially be autumn.  Autumn means cooler weather, which the dogs love.  Autumn also means that it will get dark earlier and that our outdoor agility training will end for the season.  We only have another month or so before we move indoors to the horse arena.  

This past weekend, a group of us met out at the training field to enjoy some outdoor training  before the snow starts to fly.  It is great when a few of us can get together outside of class time to train and to work on things that we really need to improve on.  When we are training indoors, we don't have the luxury of being able to use their facilities on weekends - we can only use it during the rented class times.

Over the past couple months I have been concentrating on trying to improve Maggie's contacts, get more distance with her, and get faster weaves with better entrances.

I am starting to feel better about her contacts.  They are not always great when I try to get more distance, but they are better than they were at the beginning of the summer.

Our distance work is slowly starting to improve too.  Maggie will now take a series of obstacles that are ahead of her, without always waiting for me.  I can now get more distance in the weaves, over jumps and over contact obstacles.  I still need to learn to trust her a bit more and to not always baby her on things that I think she might not succeed at.

Maggie's weaving has got faster, but this does not always reflect when we go to trials.  I know this is one of the things that I baby her on and I just have to let her weave without me hovering and worrying that she will make a mistake.  I know that she can weave well (and fast when she sets her mind to it).

Our training goals for the winter months are to continue working on contacts and difficult weave entrances and of course the rear crosses (that are finally starting to make sense to me).  I also really want Maggie to understand an "out" command. That will really help our distance work and gambles.  I am sure there will be other things that creep up that I will add to my list of goals as we continue to train and trial.

Thanks to Wendy for taking all the great pictures (some which are posted above) at our practice session on the weekend.

Smile !

Bosley and his Pooh pillow.

Bosley noticed this pillow a few days ago.  It was on the floor in the closet and he saw it when I opened the door.  He has been carrying it around the house ever since.  The pillow used to be Amy's - she must be growing up though, because she doesn't even mind that Bosley has adopted her pillow.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

BMD Club of Canada Website

All of the final results from the Bernese specialty are finally posted on the Club website.  I wanted to get a show picture done with Bosley and the judge, but I was too busy running from event to event, so it didn't happen.  So instead, Sarah took some photos of Bosley and I when we got back from our trip.  They turned out great!

Here is the photo that is posted on the BMDCC Website.  (Scroll to near the bottom of the page.)

Thanks Sarah for taking the great pictures!

Friday, September 12, 2008

It's Here !!!!

Today we went to Calgary to pick up the cart that I won in the raffle at the Bernese Specialty.  It is beautiful!  It was donated by Paul and Lynne Bagnall from Edmonton.  Paul has been carting with his Bernese for many years and he makes very nice, well built carts.  I feel very lucky to have a genuine Paul Bagnall cart.

Here is Bosley showing off his new cart.

I haven't actually hitched Bosley to the cart yet.  He will need to get used to it moving behind him first.   Today, I just followed Bosley around the yard, pulling the cart behind him.  He didn't mind it all at - even when I bumped him with the shafts.

Bosley already has realized that he must stand between the shafts and will step in-between them on command.

Here is Bosley, standing nicely in front of his cart.  Maggie is keeping her distance just in case the cart moves. 

Maggie doesn't want to be left out of all the attention.

Hopefully one day I will be able to get Maggie hitched to the cart too.  She is such a "scaredy dog" about certain things, it may be awhile to convince her that the cart is OK.

"Come on Maggie - the cart is not that bad.  If you stand here nice, Mom will even give you cheese!"

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Camera

A couple weeks ago, I splurged and bought a new camera - a Canon Rebel XT.  It has mostly been in it's case since I bought it, because I have been a bit overwhelmed with all it's features and I didn't want to break my new camera because I didn't know what I was doing.  Today I got brave and took it out to the backyard to "play" with it.  It was fun, and I didn't break it.

Here are some of the pictures I took.  I am still just using the auto settings,  but the camera is very fast and the pictures turned out OK.

Maggie sunning herself on the deck.

Bolsey being silly - he kept trying to eat the shrub behind him.

The last of this year's roses.

One of the neighbour's flowers peaking through the fence.

A shrub in it's fall colours.

A spider.  Normally, I am creeped out by spiders, but I think these ones are cool.

Monday, September 8, 2008

All In The Name Of . . . Progress?

We live on the very edge of town and there is a field of prairie grass that separates us from the nearest community.  It is about a 2km walk across the field and a great place to take the dogs for a run.

Suddenly, it seems as if our field has changed.  This is what it all used to look like:

Now, only a small portion looks like prairie.

The rest looks like this:

Nothing but dirt.

The earth movers came and took out our beautiful field and replaced it with dirt.

Soon there won't even be any dirt left.  It will soon be turned into roads, and new houses.  Progress?  I don't think so.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Show Ring

Here are a few pictures from our conformation experience:

Waiting for our turn in the ring.

The judge.

Getting those "pearly whites" checked.

Being examined.

Once around the ring.

The final placement order.

Bosley and his "show dog" ribbons.

I was very proud of Bosley in the show ring.  He let the judge examine him without even flinching or looking at her.  I did have a yummy piece of cheese in my hand, so I am sure that helped.

Thanks to everyone, especially Julia, who gave me lots of showing tips.  Also a big thanks to everyone who took their time to "examine" Bosley to help him get ready for his big day.

Bosley and His Obedience Brags

Here are some photos of Bosley posing with his ribbons and prizes from the weekend.  I really wanted to get a professional photo done with the obedience judge, but since I was entered in so many things, the timing did not work out.  So, I had to do my own photos.

Advanced 'A' Rally- High in Class/ High Bernese in Class

"Widdle Wascal Award" for the youngest qualifying Bernese in obedience.

Novice 'A' Obedience -High In Class / High Bernese In Class / High Bernese In Trial

A tired Bosley, on the hotel bed, after doing all that obedience.

*** A very big Thank You goes out to Amanda for all her training classes.  You have watched Bosley grow from a baby in your puppy kindergarten classes and have coached us through to where we are today.  We never could have made it this far without all of your advice and support.  I hope you know how important you were to making Bosley's accomplishments possible.