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, February 23, 2009

Finally - A Little Good News

Maggie went back to the vet for another set of X-rays today.  Finally - there is some improvement.  Both ends of the fracture have nice callouses on them and the bone actually looks like it is all one piece now, instead of two.  I was very excited when the picture came up on the screen and I couldn't see the gapping fracture anymore. I had butterflies in my stomach all day worrying about what the X-rays would show. Maggie is still at the vet's office right now.  The vet was finishing up in surgery when we were there and he wants to spend some time modifying Maggie's splint before he wraps her foot up again.  She will still need to keep a splint on for a couple more weeks just as a precaution, and the modifications should help reduce the awful pressure sores that she was getting from the other splint.  I can handle two more weeks now that I can finally see a good outcome to all of this.

Maggie is home now and she is very happy.  She still has the splint, but it is light and airy and her toes are sticking out of the end.  Hopefully her pressure sores totally go away now that her foot is getting a bit more air circulation and her splint is not heavy and tight.  Just two more weeks and she can slowly start getting back to her normal schedule.  It will take a few weeks of conditioning before she is ready to go back to agility full force, but she should be back!!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Building Toy Drive

Today we had an agility "mini-seminar" where we got to work on some specific agility skills.  Today we worked lots on weaves as well as pinwheels, serpentines and threadles.  

I really need to get my weave poles out in the yard (stupid snow) so that I can do more work with Bosley.  His weave entries are usually good, but he has lost some speed going though the poles.  Today I worked with him to try to get a little more lateral distance as he is going through the poles.  I have really been trying not to "baby" him in the poles and it seems the less I try to help him, the better he is.  However, I need to work on recalling him through the poles.  When I try to do this, he will get his entrance and then run past the rest of the poles to me (and hopefully a treat).

I love doing the serps and threadles, I think they are a lot of fun.  Bosley was doing quite well with both of them today and is responding nicely to my arm changes.  It will be interesting to see how he does once we start adding more speed to the equation.

The thing that I need to work on most with Bolsey is excitement.  He is really a difficult dog to get excited and even as a young puppy, he was never too playful or silly.  For the next few months, I really need to work on building working toy drive with him.  At home, Bolsey is very happy to play tug with me but when I try to use tug as a reward for "work", he looks at me like he has never seen a tug toy before in his life.  I have even bought him fancy tugs that have real sheep fur, that he usually goes crazy for.  Bosley seems to think that the only reward for doing a good job, should be food.  I know, I know, that is my fault.  He is so food motivated and when he was a puppy, he learned so quickly with a food reward that I never used toys as a motivator.  Bad me.  Now I need to start rewarding his tugging with food so that the tugging itself becomes more rewarding.  Eventually, I hope to have him to the point that he will be able to find the tug just as rewarding as the food.  This is going to be a lot of work, but it is something that I really need to do.  Maggie needs to work on this as well.

There is always a never ending list of "things to work on".  

Healing Energy

This morning I had the opportunity to take Maggie for a session of Reiki.  A local Reiki practitioner is working on her level 3 Reiki and has a special interest in Reiki and animals.  She was offering Reiki sessions to help her get experience working on animals, rather than just on people.  Maggie enjoyed her session and really relaxed while being worked on.

Reiki is a Japanese word that means "universal life energy".  Reiki is a gentle technique that promotes healing and energy balance within the body.  For more information on Reiki, this website gives a lot of good information: Animal Reiki.  

I hope Maggie gets some benefit from her session and I hope a lot of healing energy went to her broken toe.  Monday we go back to the vet for another set of X-rays, and I am really hoping to see an improvement.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Our Biggest Obstacle

The biggest obstacle between a mediocre run and an awesome run, unfortunately is . . . me.  Why does it seem so much easier to train the dogs than it is to train me.  Although I have much to learn, and I am still very green when it comes to competing,  I think that I am a decent handler.  I have a desire to learn and to be better.  However, the biggest obstacle that I need to overcome is - ring nerves.  Ring nerves suck!  They sap all the energy out of both me and my dogs.

-verb (used with object)
definition - to gain a victory over; surmount; master; overcome:  to conquer ring nerves

Ring nerves are the biggest obstacle that I need to conquer before I can compete with any great success.

Bosley can't do the dogwalk.  Why?  Because I am terrified he will fall off and get hurt.

Maggie tears up the agility course in practice, but is as slow as molasses in trials.   Why? Because I get nervous.

Maggie has great weave poles, but in a trial she pops poles and goes very slow.  Why?  Because I worry she will pop poles and be slow.

Maggie has a bad case of "coming home syndrome" at a trial, where suddenly in the last third of the course she runs as fast as can.  Why?  Because I am glad we are almost done and I start to relax.

Don't even get me started about obedience trials.  I always say that Maggie has obedience ring nerves, but that is because she gets it from me.

My poor dogs!  They don't even have a chance :(

The weird thing is that I like to go to trials and compete.  My nerves are getting better (really), but I really need to work at being more confident and less nervous at trials.  I know, I know . . . what's the worst that can happen?  Logically, my brain tells me that it is just a trial and that if we NQ, it is not a big deal.  I have NQ'd plenty of times and the sky doesn't fall.  No one even cares. The dogs don't care and I know there will be plenty more trials to enter.  So what is the big deal?  I wish I knew.  Ring nerves suck!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine Birthday

Maggie was born on Valentine's Day, four years ago.  Here are a couple of pictures of Maggie from this morning.  She was enjoying her birthday by laying on my bed and looking out the window, watching the snow fall.

She also found time to fit in a little nap.

Happy Birthday Maggie!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Collection Du Jour

I posted previously about Bosley's obsession for finding things that are laying around, and making a pile of "stuff" in the livingroom.  Here is Bosley's  collection today: 2 dog beds, a bath mat, a nylabone, a kong and a shoe.  There may be more things hidden in the pile that I will find when I put everything away before bed.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Terry Simons

This weekend, Terry Simons from Flying Dog Agility in California, came all the way to little Lethbridge to give an agility seminar.  He mainly focused on handling with lots of front and rear crosses.  He did some distance work on Sunday morning, but I had to miss that part (there are two weekend of the year that I have to work and this was one of them - stupid work). 

Bosley had a working spot on Saturday and he did quite well, but he was tired at the end from doing so much jumping.  Bosley is a very steady, consistent dog and Terry said that I need to work on getting more out of him by finding something that gets him really excited.  So I will need to work on finding something to really get his energy up and to make him a bit "over the top" to increase his drive.  Terry uses a broom or rake to get his dog extra excited, so I just need to figure out what Bosley's equivalent is.

Although I couldn't work Maggie in the seminar, I audited her sessions and learned lots.  I learned that it is OK to do only front crosses with Maggie, as long as I know how to do other crosses if I really need to use something else. As long as the handling style that I choose to do is consistent, I don't have to follow what others are doing.  I sometimes stress about rear crosses because neither Maggie or I really like to do them.  I learned that it is important to know your dog and have a "mantra" to help you run your dog the best you can.  I learned tons about reading a course, lead changes and where and when to put crosses.  

This was a great seminar.  Terry is very positive and worked with everyone to try to get the best out of the dogs and the handlers.  I don't think that there was one person at the seminar that didn't come away from it with something positive and a few people had some very big "breakthroughs" in their handling.  Agility is supposed to about having fun with your dog and Terry really stressed that throughout the weekend.  I don't think that anyone left without a smile on their face, and I think that is what made this seminar so great.  I was left with a renewed energy about the "game" and can't wait to get back out there.

On Sunday, I brought Maggie out to the seminar just so she could "hang out".  She had lots of fun visiting everyone and being out of the house for a while.


Friday, February 6, 2009


Maggie had X-rays done on her foot this afternoon and I promised her that she would get her splint off today.  I had to break that promise.  The X-rays showed minimal healing.  The vet (and I) had expected to see a callous at the break area, but if the callous is forming, it is not as far advanced as it should be.  The vet said he was very disappointed and  that he would like to re-x-ray again in 2 weeks.  Depending on what those x-rays will show, will determine our next course of action.  Maggie will need to wear her splint for at least another month, even if the next set of x-rays show that there is healing occurring.  The vet said that the wrap job that I did on Maggie's foot was quite good, so I can continue to change the bandages myself, so that part is good.

I am very disappointed, to say the least.  I was looking forward to getting Maggie out for runs again, and back to training.  Maggie has been very good through all of this, but I am sure that she misses being out and having fun.  She is such an active and social dog that it is hard to keep her cooped up at home, knowing how much she loves to be out interacting with everyone.  It is even getting hard for me to take Bosley out for a walk, knowing that she has to stay behind. The other day, I took Bosley out for a walk around the neighbourhood, and when I looked back towards the house, I could see Maggie watching us from the window.  I felt so bad that she had to stay behind.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Here is Maggie relaxing and counting down the days until her splint comes off.  We will find out Friday if her toe is healed up.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Stupid Splint

On Wednesday, Maggie went in for another splint change.  Our appointment was at 3:00 but we didn't get out of there until 4:45 because the vet had an emergency patient come in.  The vet must have been rushed when re-doing the splint because her splint fell off last night.  Very annoying.  Her next (and hopefully final) appointment is Friday, so I am refusing to take her back to the vet to get another bandage change - which I am sure will cost me the usual $85, even though the last one only lasted 3 full days (also annoying).  I rewrapped her foot myself - not a great job, but it is staying on.

Bosley wanted to help too:

Should Have Gone Herding

There were herding lessons this past weekend - finally, after being postponed a couple of times because of bad weather.  We didn't go herding because I entered Bosley in Rally at the Alberta Kennel Club show in Calgary. 

 When the entries for the show opened, I had already decided that I wasn't going to enter Bosley.  I had been doing very little work with him and with all the snow and cold weather, we hadn't been out to train in a distracting environment for a long time.  At the very last minute (about an hour before the entries closed) I changed my mind and entered him.  I mostly wanted to go to the show to see some of my friends that were entered in conformation.   Well, I missed seeing everyone show because all the conformation was early in the morning and Rally wasn't until later in the afternoon.  So, not only did I miss most of the conformation that I wanted to see (I did get to see Amanda and Pixel in the group ring), but Bosley and I had a terrible showing in Rally.  It was so awful, that I can't even believe that I am writing about it.

When I saw the course being set up for Saturday's run, I laughed.  There was an off-set figure 8, which is usually set up with food bowls for distractions.  Well, not this time.  The judge had two fluffy, fun stuffed toys set out.  I just knew that Bosley wouldn't be able to resist.  I was right.  He started out OK and then when we turned towards the figure 8, his eyes got big, like he couldn't believe his good fortune to see stuffed toys in the ring.  Off he went to poke each of them with his big nose.  I called him back and we redid the station successfully the second time.  Then, it was all downhill from there.  He was total unfocused and sniffed the signs, looked out at the crowd and generally ignored me.  We came up the last line of signs and when he saw the exit gate - he left.  Yup, walked right out of the ring with me about 20 paces behind him and 2 stations left to complete.  NQ.  I put him back on his leash and walked him down the hallway, where he pooped - he couldn't even make it outside.  I guess he really had to go, and I am glad that he left the ring instead of relieving himself right there. 

Sunday we drove back to Calgary for round 2.  I was sure that he couldn't do as bad as he did Saturday.  I was nervous on Sunday and usually I don't get too nervous showing Bosley because he is quite consistent.  I did some warming up with him and when we warmed up in our benching area where it was nice and quiet, he did great.  As soon as I took him out where it was busier, it took a lot to keep his attention on me.  Oh boy - I was getting really nervous at that point.  It was one dog until our turn and I was just thinking about getting Bosley out for his last warm up.  We were #117 and #116 was at the gate waiting to go in the ring.  Suddenly, her dog started to act distracted and she asked if she could get moved to the end of the line.  So I hear "#117 - you are up!"  Yikes!  I was flustered, not expecting to go in just yet.  Nervous and flustered - not a good combination.  Bosley was not very focused (but better than Saturday) and I seemed to have lost lots of points because of handling errors.  The short of the whole run is - we were pretty awful and ended up with a "lovely" score of 68.  I think I would rather NQ than have such a sad score.  (BTW - dog #116 ended up NQing).

Wow, we really need to work on attention in distracting places.  I have never seen Bosley so unfocused.  He is usually such a mama's boy, that I don't even worry about focus with him.  

We should have went herding.