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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Sunday, January 25, 2009


This morning, Amanda, Judy and I drove out to Cowley for some Rally Obedience practice.  Judy drove us all there in her van - 5 dogs and 3 people.  For the entire trip there and back, I admired her van and the amount of "stuff" it could hold.  

Bosley was pretty funny today.  He was very excited to be out at the Cowley Hall.  He has only been there a couple of times before but he must really like it.  He even barked when we went in, and he only barks when he is very excited about something.  We did 3 practice runs and his first run was awful.  I guess I didn't warm him up enough, and he spent much of the run gawking around, checking out things on the floor and admiring the dogs and people on the sidelines.  He had a few good moments though, and his fronts are getting quite nice.  His next 2 runs were better - less distracted, and some nice heeling. Still, not the best, and I know he can do much better.  

We are entered in a Rally trial next weekend.  I wasn't too worried about it, but after how distracted and goofy he was today, I am not sure how he will do next weekend.  If he was being judged today, he probably would have got a passing mark with a marginal score, but, I know he is capable of getting good scores when he is focused.  I won't stress about the trial, we will just see what happens when we get there.

I also joined SAWDA (Southern Alberta Working Herding Dog Association) today.  They are based out of Cowley and although it is an hour drive to get there, it is a fun place to go practice.  It is also the only place around here that I can get some carting instruction, which I am sure I will need once the snow goes away and we get the cart out again.  They also do lots of fun things like demos and parades.  

Poor Maggie.  She had to stay at home again.  She should go for X-rays in about a week or so, and if everything looks good, she should get her splint off.  Here's hoping.

Friday, January 23, 2009

40 Things

I was tagged by Sarah to list 40 things about me.  I will play along, although I don't know how interesting this will be.

1)  I grew up on a farm in Southern Saskatchewan.

2)  I have 2 sisters and I am the oldest.

3)  I don't know how to swim.

4)  I am very scared of heights.

5)  I don't have any fillings in any of my teeth, but the dentist keeps bugging me to get my wisdom teeth out.  

6)  My first car was a 1972 Chevy Nova.  I liked everything about it except it's colour - it was              green (70s green).

7)  I have never been married, but have been with the same guy for 12ish years.

8)  I have an 18 year old daughter named Amy.

9)   I have a degree in Sociology and Psychology (with a focus on Neuro-psychology). 

10) I do not have a job that is related to either Sociology or neuro-psychology (go figure).  But all my psych classes drilled classical and operant conditioning into my head and that has come in useful in dog training.

11) I have lived in 8 different towns/cities.

12)  My second toe is longer than my big toe.

13) I don't like spiders.

14)  When I was in grade 6, our school bus driver had a box of puppies on the bus that he was giving away.  I took one home.  My mom was not impressed, but Tippy stayed.

15)  I used to sleepwalk.

16)  My favorite movies are "Princess Bride" and "The Three Amigos".

17)  My favorite TV series is Fawlty Towers.  I have all the seasons on video and no matter how much I watch them, it is still funny.  I also really like "All In The Family" reruns.

18)  When I was a kid, I would read every horse or dog book that I could get from the library.

19)  I get up between 3:30 and 4:00 every weekday morning to go to work.

20)  I am not a morning person, but I like getting home from work by 1:30 in the afternoon.

21)  I love to sleep in.

22)  I watch very little TV, but I love going out to the movies.

23)  I have very bad eyesight.  I think my eyeglass prescription is -6.0.  That is bad!

24)  I have had glasses since I was in grade 4.  I really hated my glasses, so I never would wear them.  I went around without seeing well until I got contact lens in grade 9.  I still don't like to
wear my glasses in public.

25)  I love being at home.

26)  I need lots of "alone time" or I get really grouchy.

27)  I love on-line shopping.  I think I like it so much because you can get good deals and I like getting things in the mail.

28)  I have always wanted to get a bird.  Once I bird-sat for a friend and I was picking up feathers and seeds for a week after the bird went home. I would still like to get a bird.

29)  One of my pet peeves is when people don't use "they're", "their" and "there" properly.

30)  I am very allergic to cats.  

31)  This year is my 20th high school reunion.  That is weird!  

32)  I hate cooking.

33)  We eat out lots.

34) Favorite female singer - Ella Fitzgerald.

35)  Favorite male singer - Chris Issak.

36)  Favorite place I have travelled to so far - Florida.

37)  I won't travel anywhere that requires getting a 'shot'.  

38)  My best friend in high school got grounded from seeing me because I was a "bad influence".  I think I was having sleepovers at her house again the next week.

39) I don't drink coffee and have maybe 2 or 3 alcoholic drinks a year (stay away from me, I'm a bad influence).

40)  Cheezies!  Yum.

OK, that was really hard.  Congratulations if you could actually make it all the way through that list.  

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dumbbell Progess

Here is a short video of Bosley and his dumbbell work.  The angle of the video is not great because I couldn't find a good place for the camera where nothing was in the way, but it gives you some idea of how he is doing.  This video will be very boring for those who have dogs who are natural retrievers, but for me it is very exciting.

I am still keeping the dumbbell work very fun for him, with lots of cheering him on, play and cookies.  I am not asking for formal fronts or finishes - I just ask that he holds the dumbbell until I ask him to release it.  All I am looking for right now is enthusiasm when it comes to the dumbbell.

I am very pleased with Bosley's progress.  Only a couple of months ago he would not even touch the dumbbell.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

BedTime Prayer

A Happy Dog's BedTime Prayer

Now I lay me down to sleep,
The queen-size bed is soft and deep.
I sleep right in the center groove,
My human being can hardly move.

I've trapped her legs,
she's tucked in tight,
and here is where I pass the night.
No one disturbs me or dares intrude,
'Til morning comes and I want food.

I sneak up slowly and it begins,
My nibbles on my human's chin.
She wakes up slowly and smiles and shouts,
"You darling beast!
Just cut it out!"
But morning's here and it's time to play,
I always seem to get my way.

So thank you Lord, for giving me,
this human person that I see.
The one who holds me tight
and shares her bed with me at night!

Author Unknown

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mopey Maggie

Here are some pictures of Maggie that I took today.  Poor girl, she is getting really tired of having her splint on.  I thought, by now, she would be driving us all nutty with pent up energy, but she spends her days being mopey and sad.  She cannot run and play like she usually does and the only time she leaves the house and yard is to go to the vet to get her splint changed.  I am hoping that it will only be about 3 more weeks until the splint can come off.  It is very strange to have a Mopey Maggie in the house - she is usually full of energy and spunk.

You can't tell from the pictures, but Maggie is looking quite skinny.  Her weight has stayed the same, but with no exercise for nearly 6 weeks, she has lost a bit of muscle and her Big Berner Butt is not so big.  Maggie is not a large Bernese to begin with (only 75 pounds) so that loss of muscle tone is very noticeable.

Pretty Maggie!

Maggie gives some effort to play, but it has been a while since she has body checked Bosley and pinned him to the ground.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Baby Steps

Sometimes change happens so gradually that you barely notice it.  Then all of a sudden, one day, you realize that things are not the same as they used to be.

This newspaper on the coffee table is one such change.  To most people, it is not a big deal to have a newspaper laying on the coffee table, but a year ago, or even six months ago, this newspaper could not be left here.  It would have been torn to sheds and eaten by one named Bosley.

These books would have been used as a fun tug-o-war toy, or would suddenly be missing a corner. 
(Look, no teeth marks)

Yesterday, I looked at the pile of reading material on the table and suddenly realized that we can leave out books, magazines and newspapers and the dogs actually leave them alone.

Now steaks are another issue.  I still need to leave them on the back of the stove or I am very certain that as soon as I turn my back, they would be gone.

Today newspapers; tomorrow steaks?  

Somehow I think that the steaks will always be on the back of the stove.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A New Sport For Maggie?

Here is a dog sport that we haven't tried.  I think that Maggie would love this:

It is a Bernese participating in the sport of Schutzhund.  I didn't know that Bernese were used as Schutzhund dogs and  I don't know if Maggie and Bosley would be very good protection dogs.  Maggie would, however, love to chase someone and be allowed to bite at the bite sleeve.  She also loves to bark, so when combine all of those things, she would love it!  She also would want to have some cuddles from the "bad" person after she was done chasing and biting him.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

It's A Kind Of Magic!

This little yellow and black grooming tool is made of magic!  I was skeptical that it would actually work, even after I heard of many people singing it's praises. Maybe I would have tried it out sooner, but it cost $70!  Would it really be worth all that money?  Then one of my friends bought one to groom his Husky and he couldn't say enough good things about it.  So I broke down and bought one.   What is this magical tool?  It is the Furminator.  

I took the Furminator out of it's package and thought, "How can this get out any fur, it doesn't even have any teeth.  Good thing it has a money back guarantee".  Bosley was my first test subject (since he likes to be brushed and Maggie doesn't).  Wow, I couldn't believe all of the fur that came off of him.  I kept brushing and brushing and more and more fur came out.  It was pretty amazing actually.  I barely needed to put any pressure on the Furminator and in no time at all, he was all groomed.  Between him and Maggie, I brushed out a big bag full of fur, and it's not even heavy shedding season yet.  The dogs look lighter and hopefully there will be less fur on the carpets and bed now.

I love the Furminator!

(The Furminator people did not pay me to say these nice things about their product, but they can if they want, or at least they can send me a free Furminator).

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A New Year!

Now that 2008 is officially over and 2009 is here, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the year we just finished and think about some of our hopes for the new year. 

Maggie in 2008

We entered in 8 AAC trials over the course of the year and this was our first full year of trialing.  In those 8 trials, Maggie earned her SADC and SSGDC titles.  She also has a couple of Advanced game 'Q's.  For me, our most memorable runs were our Starters Snooker run at the Go!Dog!Go! trial and our Starters jumpers run at the fall Flashing Canines trial.  They were both one of those runs where you really connect as a team and everything falls into place nicely.

We also entered 2 CKC trials where Maggie earned her AgNJS and AGnS titles.  

Rally Obedience
We went to 3 rally obedience weekends this year.  Maggie finished her Novice Rally title at the first weekend out.  She then earned an Advanced Rally 'Q' in each of the next two Rally weekends.

It was my goal for 2008 to earn Maggie's CD title.  We entered in one trial where she earned her first leg towards her title.  I pulled her from all the other obedience trials she was entered in because she gets extremely stressed in the ring.  I want the ring to be a fun place for her.

Our highlights of the year were earning our 2 AAC agility titles.  

Bosley in 2008

Rally Obedience
Bosley was entered in 2 Rally obedience weekends this year.  In those 2 weekends he earned his Novice Rally title and earned 2 legs towards his Advanced Rally title.

Bosley was entered in one Obedience weekend this year.  I wasn't planning on entering him in Novice obedience at all this year (I didn't think he was ready), but since we travelled 9 hours to attend our National Specialty, I entered him anyway.  He earned his CD title in that one weekend, much to my surprise and delight!  At the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Canada sponsored trial, Bosley wowed me with a great performance, getting 1st place in his Novice A class and High Bernese in Specialty Trial.  

I entered Bosley in one event at one agility trial.  I knew he was not ready to compete, but I thought he would do well enough to at least have some fun out there.  It was a good experience for both of us.  He was goofy and a bit distracted, but overall did well.

Bosley and I won a cart at the Bernese Specialty, so Bosley officially began his draft dog training.

Both dogs got to try out herding this year, which is lots of fun.

My highlight of the year was attending the Bernese Specialty.  It was my very first Specialty and it was so fun to see all those Berners around and watching them compete.  I tried out my hand at Conformation by showing Bosley in the altered category, which was fun but very different from performance events.

Maggie - 2009 Dreams
 I hope that Maggie's broken toe will heal up with no more problems and that she will get through the year without any more injuries.  

This year I hope to earn our AAC SAADC title.  The AAC rules have changed for this year, making earning titles a bit more difficult.  The Advanced Games title will be very difficult for us now, as you need 3 'Q's in each game to earn the title.  Jumpers is always a struggle for us, so 3 jumpers 'Q's will be difficult.  We will give it our best try though!

I would also like to compete in AAC Regionals this year.  I have no realistic dreams (unrealistic ones, yes) of qualifying for Nationals.  I just want to go out and at least show well.  Maggie will most likely be the only Bernese at Regionals, so I want give good representation for the Berners.

I would also like to try to get out to a couple more CKC trials this year.  There is so little CKC agility around here, but CKC is fun.

Rally Obedience
I would like to finish Maggie's Rally Advanced title and start on her Excellent title.

Ring nerves, Ring nerves, Ring nerves.  This year I want to make the ring a happy place for Maggie.  This means working on ring nerves - for both of us.  I would still like to earn Maggie's CD this year, and if all goes well, maybe I will enter her in the fall trial here in Lethbridge.  It is always less stressful when you get to stay at home for a trial.

Bosley - 2009 Dreams
I hope to begin competing with Bosley later this year.  I will see how Bosley is once we start our outdoor training in the spring and see how ready he is to begin trialing.  Bosley should be ready to start jumping at his full jump height now so we will need to work on more jumping exercises before we can trial.

Rally Obedience
This year I hope to finish Bosley's Advanced and Excellent titles.  It is my dream that this year we can start earning 'Q's towards Bosley's RAE title.  We still need to work on perfecting going from a heel position to a front position without me taking a step back.  We also need to work on polishing our Moving Stand and Backwards Heeling.

Dumbbell work - that will be our focus for the year.  I will begin working more on some of the other Open Obedience exercises, but the dumbbell is what will need the most work.  I have a long term goal of competing in Open at the 2010 Bernese Specialty, so we have a lot to accomplish in the next year.

I am hoping that we will be ready to compete in the fall draft test.  This is a big goal, but we are going to try.  I have never even seen a draft test before, but I know all the rules and exercises and it is something that I really want to do.  We will just have to train hard all year.

For 2009, I hope that everyone stays healthy and un-injured.  Even if we don't meet all our goals for the year, as long as we are continuing to progress in our training and have fun, it will be a successful year.  Success cannot always be measured by 'Q's or titles, but rather by how far you have come as a team.