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, December 31, 2009


Well, it's that time again - to look back at the year that has past and look ahead to 2010. Where did the year go - it seemed to fly by.

I didn't get to all the goals that I set for the year. I wanted to finish both dogs' Advanced Rally titles and finish Maggie's CD. Maggie did no obedience at all and I have put off Rally for now. I wanted to finish Maggie's SAADC title, but she only did 2 AAC trials this year.

The goals I did complete were to start trialing Bosley in agility (his first trial was in June) and compete at Regionals with Maggie. I entered Bosley in a draft test and he learned to fetch the dumbbell!

Here is a quick look back over the year's stats:
Maggie - came back from a broken toe and mast cell cancer.
- ran in 3 CKC trials - earned 6 Qs and her Intermediate JWW title
-ran in 2 AAC trials - earned 4 Qs

Bosley- ran in 3 CKC trials - earned a total of 14 Qs and 4 titles
- ran in 2 AAC trials - earned 8 Qs and 1 title
- entered a draft test
-is almost ready for Open Obedience

Goals for 2010
Maggie - keep having fun in agility and obedience. Maggie is not a very well built dog and is having some issues with her back and rear end, so I am not pushing agility too much. I am looking forward to dropping her to veterans in February. We will see how the year goes and do a few trials. I would like to start doing some tracking with her. I think that would be a great way to keep her active and her brain busy.

Bosley - I would like to try to get his CDX this year (he is pretty close to being ready to enter a trial) and start Utility exercises. We are also going to get his Draft title this year and start training for his DDX title. In agility, I hope to finish his CKC excellent titles and start working towards Championship Qs. If he keeps running well, and we enter enough trials, I think he should be able to get to AAC Masters level this year. I am also thinking about entering him in AAC regionals - crazy, but I will see how he is running when we get closer.

So, goodbye 2009 and here's to a fun and productive 2010.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

52 Weeks For Dogs

Flickr has an invited group called "52 Weeks For Dogs" where you post one photo a week for the entire year. I joined for 2010. I have a fairly decent camera (Canon Rebel XT) that I have had for a while and a really awesome, fast zoom lens that I got for Christmas last year (and I'm ashamed to say that I have barely used). I am looking forward to the challenge of the group and learning more about my camera, photography and how to be creative behind the lens. I have been going through some of the group pictures from this past year, and they are awesome - lots of inspiration there.

I already have lots of ideas for some things I would like to do. I only have one problem - you are only allowed to use one dog for the entire project. I have not decided which dog to use and the first post starts next week. I am leaning towards Bosley as he is easier to work with and will pose for shots as long as I need him to. Maggie has better expressions but does not always love the camera. I still have one week to decide.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Walk Photos

Yesterday afternoon, Maggie and I went for a nice walk on the coulee edge near our house. We were still walking as the sun was about to set. I took these pictures with the setting sun right behind Maggie's head. I loved the way they turned out, with the light glowing through her fur and whiskers.

This shot is my favorite.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


This afternoon, I took Bosley for a run in the field near our house. (Why Maggie is not allowed off-leash in this field is a story for another post). It started out as a typical walk.

Bosley surveying his kingdom.
Lots of sniffing.
Lots of running.
More running.
Having fun.

Then it happened. Something in the corner of my eye caught my attention. Can you see it?

Here's another shot. There were 2 coyotes in the field not too far from us.
This is a cropped shot - a bit blurry but you can see them both. They followed us all the way across the field until we reached the houses on the other side. Creepy. Usually the coyotes will just watch you or they will run off, but I have never had them follow me before. Very creepy.

Once we got out of the field and to the coulees on the other side, Bosley posed for some pictures. I like how these ones turned out.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas ! ! !

Wishing everyone a Wonderful Christmas!

**A couple people mentioned that Maggie does not look too happy in the Christmas photo. It is hard to get a good posed picture of Maggie - she always gives me the "can we just get this over with" look. She also is scared of the cart. She will at least sit next to now, but she was constantly checking over her shoulder to make sure it wasn't going to "get her".

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Photos

I have been trying to get some good Christmas photos of the dogs. So far it has not been working out well. I tried to take some pictures inside, but my house doesn't have much good light, especially since it has been cloudy and dreary outside lately, so my pictures have been shadowy with lots of red-eye.
Today I took the dogs outside with some hope of getting a couple good shots. It is cloudy today and it is hard to photograph black dogs in the snow in low light.
Maggie also did not want to cooperate. I wanted a picture of her wearing a Santa hat - here is how that went:

I didn't get one photo of her wearing the hat, but the hat may have a few holes in it now.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

"We Are Ready . . .

. . . for Santa!"

We have been mostly good this year.

Friday, December 11, 2009


I have always loved watching dogs who can do a fancy "pop" finish in obedience. Some dogs are very impressive and they do a giant twirling leap into the air, landing perfectly beside their handler. I never gave much thought to teaching this type of finish to my dogs. It always seemed like the kind of thing that a light, bouncy dog can do, not a Bernese (who are not always too light on their feet). Inspired by a combination of a Patty Ruzzo video and very cold weather, I decided to see if I could teach Bosley a pop finish. We have been working at it, a few minutes at a time, for about a week. Bosley thinks this is a whole lot of fun. I started by luring/clicking just a pop-up. Then I added the turn into a finish with a lure. I have now faded the luring and am just rewarding getting into the final position.

Here is a video of what we did today:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Puppy Class

I put Maggie back in Puppy class. Well, it's not exactly a puppy class, but it is a novice obedience class and there are several puppies in the class. Maggie used to really love obedience and she even has one CD leg (from the one and only time I put her in the Novice ring), but she stresses under pressure very easily and the ring is not a fun place for her. So we are back in beginner class. I am not sure if she will ever get back in the ring, but I want her to see obedience as something fun - she used to have fun.
Maggie enjoyed Monday's class. I am keeping everything very short and playing with her lots. I am not asking for perfection - I am just rewarding her efforts and trying to make her know that as long as she tries hard, she is the best obedience dog in the world.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Old Photos

Today I decided that since it was so cold and snowy outside, I would go through some old photos and transfer some of them to my computer. I found some of Maggie's puppy pictures - which brought back tons of memories about Maggie's puppy days. The picture quality of the photos is not the greatest as they were taken before I had a digital camera.

Maggie was about 3 months old here. I had forgotten that when she was a puppy the whiskers on one eyebrow were white while the other side was black.

Look how cute she is!

Maggie loved to dig as a puppy. Here she found a nice spot of sand to dig. She was the most un-coordinated digger ever (she still is).

Maggie playing with her ball.

Here is Maggie a bit older. She was about 6 months old here.

Climbing on some rocks - about 7 months old
It is hard to believe Maggie is almost 5 years old now. It sure doesn't seem that long ago that she was a cute, little pup.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


This is what I woke up to this morning. Snow, wind and more snow. There is a street out there somewhere.

"Can we go outside and play in the snow? Please?"

Gotta love the snow!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Open Obedience Exercises Update

I think that our Open Obedience exercises are coming along nicely, although we still have a long way to go before we are ready for the ring.

Since the heeling portion in Open is very short, I really want to have perfect heeling. I want prancy, heads-up, full attention heeling for the entire pattern. I also want nice drive (a pop-up) out of the sits and drivey about-turns. Bosley can be a gorgeous heeling dog and I want to take that into the ring. We practice bits of heeling every day working on his heeling focus.

Drop On Recall:
Bosley is still sometimes anticipating the drop (which is not a bad thing - it means he is trying to do what I am teaching him) so we do many more straight recalls than drops. His drops are getting faster with less creeping, which is nice to see. I am also starting to add some more distance.

Retrieve On Flat:
I am so pleased with Bosley's retrieve. I was battling him not going out on the first command, so I went back a fews steps in his training and did more restrained retrieves and short retrieves. Lots of fun and getting him excited. Bosley did not take to retrieving naturally, so I need to keep him loving the dumbbell. I am still working on getting straighter fronts when he has the dumbbell - sometimes they are great (when he slams the dumbbell into me :0) and sometimes they are kind of sloppy.

Retrieve Over High:
Bosley really drives out to the dumbbell over the jump. I am starting to practice making it more difficult for him by throwing the dumbbell well out to the sides of the jump so that it is easier for him to run straight to the dumbbell and back rather than take the jump. This is forcing him to make the right choice on this exercise. So far, so good on that - it helps that he likes to jump. I really need to work on rewarding his stays, as I can anticipate him taking off over the jump before I give the command.

Broad Jump:
I have taken away the training bar jump completely and he is clearing his full competition distance (44") without stepping on the boards (yay). I am still working on straight jumps over the broad jump and have not asked for a formal front and finish yet. I want to make sure that he really understands his job with the broad jump (going over without touching boards or cutting the corner) before I start to add the more formal components. I don't feel any rush to add the front/finish until I am 100% happy with the actual jumping.

Out Of Sight Stays:
Still need lots of practice with this - more so with the sits. 3 minutes is a long time. I am not worried about the out of sight part (I am quite sure Bosley won't come looking for me or cause a disturbance during an actual trial) but without me there staring at him, I worry he will forget that he is supposed to be sitting. We did a 1 minute sit-stay in class the other night with me out of sight and he was fine for that short period of time, so I guess it is just building up duration.
Amanda wants to start an Open/Utility Obedience class if there is enough interest. Too bad there isn't more interest in competition obedience in our city - it is hard to have classes when there are only a couple people who want to join. Hopefully the class will get going - I am really looking forward to it.

Photo credits go to Wendy