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, May 31, 2009

Bath Day

Bosley had a bath today.  I only bathe my dogs a couple times a year, so bath day is a big occasion.  Maggie had her bath a couple weeks ago, but I need someone to help me when I take Bosley, since I can't lift him into the tub my myself and there is no way he is going in the tub on his own accord.  So off we went to the Wag 'n' Wash, where we all come out as wet as Bosley.

Bosley looked so handsome after his bath that I just had to take a few pictures.

Bosley looks so mature in this picture.  

Oh my, what a big nose you have!  Clean, but big!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Agility Regionals

Our Regional Agility Championships are coming up in just under 3 weeks.  I have Maggie entered.  I really debated entering her because she has been out of training for so long.  I am sure that there are people wondering why I would even bother entering her.  Who enters a dog, who has barely trained in the past 6 months, in a regional championship?  

Regionals does not count towards "Q"s or titles.  Regionals is a qualifier for the National Championships, which we would probably not make the cut off for, even if Maggie had been training over the winter.  I am not super competitive, so I really don't care if we place.

So why did I enter Maggie?  I entered her to have fun.  I entered her for the experience.  I entered her because I can.  

I sometimes think what would have happened if I didn't find Maggie's Mast Cell Tumor.  What if it had spread too far before it was discovered.  What if it had turned out to be a more serious form of cancer.  What if she wasn't here to play this game or too sick to play?  

I have been working hard to get Maggie back in shape.  We are going to regionals.  Maybe we will do OK, maybe we won't.  But we will be there.  We will have fun and enjoy the experience playing agility - Together.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fun Match & Fun Match

This weekend, we went to two agility fun matches.  On Saturday, our agility club held a fun match to practice for the upcoming Regional Championships.  I ran both my dogs in the fun match, although only Maggie is going to Regionals.  We did a Standard run and a Gamblers run. They were fun courses.  I didn't stress about the Gamblers run.  I just picked the obstacles that Maggie loves the most and ran.  In Regionals, it is very doubtful that we will be successful at the closing gamble, so as long as I have a good opening, I will be happy.  

Today, we heading over to another agility club's fun match.  The courses were fun and novice level, which was perfect.  Bosley did great for his first time running a course on new equipment and in a new place.  There were rubberized contacts, and Bosley didn't even seem to notice they were different, except that he slid down the A-frame because there were no slats for him to slow himself down.  Bosley did have some technical difficulties in the weaves today, which is very unlike him.  He kept missing his entry, and then he popped out once.  Weird.  I am also happy to say that I was not nervous at all about him doing the dogwalk. 
Maggie's first couple runs were great - lots of speed and enthusiasm.  She even tugged with me after her first run, which was nice to see.  The last run was a jumpers run, and it was very hot out by that time.  She was very pokey, but picked up speed down the homestretch.  Oh ya - her weaves sucked.  She had lots of trouble finding the entry and then was very slow.  A little discouraging, since there was only a set of 6 weaves out there today.

Here are some pictures of Maggie that Sarah took the other day before class.  Sarah is a great photographer and really can catch a dog's personality in her photographs.

Comin' at ya!
Maggie's typical crazy agility face.  

Me and Maggie playing tug.

A happy girl getting some belly rubs.

I love this picture of Maggie running.

This picture is great.  It makes me laugh.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Gambling Problem

I have a Gambling problem.  Agility gambling, that is. 

A gamble requires that your dog must be able to work away from you, and that you must be able to teach your dog to work away from you.  I love to watch well trained gamble dogs - they know what directionals mean and can "go on" and "get out" and have lots of drive for the obastacles and the game. 

I really don't like the whole gambling process.  Choosing the opening sequence and making sure you end up in a good  position for the closing sequence is very difficult and stressful for me.  I like the courses that are numbered, and you just follow along, no thinking required.  (Well, except for Snooker - but Snooker is fun).  I have a lot of trouble rewarding my dogs away from myself, which you need to do in order to teach your dog distance.  I can make excuses and say that Bernese are too "velcro" to be good gamble dogs, or that because my dogs are not very toy motivated, they cannot learn distance.  But those are just excuses.  Teaching distance is a lot of hard work and unless I make it a priority in my training, it ain't going to happen.  

One day, I hope I can write a post about how much I love Gambling.  But for now . . . 

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fun Weekend

This weekend there was an agility trial in Medicine Hat - the first outdoor trial of the year.  I pulled Maggie's entry from the trial because she is not quite ready to get back to trialing yet.  I decided that it would be fun to take a trip to Medicine Hat anyway, watch the trial and cheer everyone on.  When you don't have a dog running, you just get to sit back and watch all the fun, so I had a great time.  Everyone from our agility club did great!  Maggie and Bosley got to hang out and enjoyed visiting with everyone.

My very favorite agility game is snooker - both to watch and to participate in.  When I saw Saturday's snooker course, I was kicking myself that I didn't enter Bosley.  The seven point obstacle was the teeter.  Bosley loves the teeter!  I had the perfect plan for him as soon as I saw the obstacle layout.  Oh well, next time I guess.

Here is a very cute photo that Sarah took of Bosley and I sitting at ringside enjoying the day.

The rest of the weekend was spent visiting family.  The dogs had fun tearing up Grandma and Grandpa's freshly tilled backyard.

P.S.  The new x-pen does fit in my car.  Well, as long as there is nothing else in the trunk.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Funny Movie

I saw the movie "Best In Show" before I ever started doing "dog stuff".  I thought the movie was very funny when I saw it back then.  It is even more hilarious now.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday Obedience

Tonight was our last formal obedience class for a while.  This past session of classes has been one of the most enjoyable obedience sessions that I have ever had.  It was geared towards dogs who are getting ready to compete in open obedience or who have aspirations of someday competing.  Amanda had great classes planned with lots of fun games and drills.  It is also nice that we have such a great group of obedience people in this class - although everyone is serious about training their  dogs, we always have lots of laughs.  I saw a big improvement in Bosley over the past 6 weeks, mostly in his attention and drive.  He actually got a bit pushy and forged a bit in his heeling.  That is OK with me for now - it is great to see him excited about obedience.  Maybe it was because I was having so much fun that he was enjoying himself more too.  I have also seen big improvements in his dumbbell work.  He is really learning to love his dumbbell and is starting to get the idea of what he is supposed to do.  

I just hope I can keep up on everything that we have accomplished without having a formal class to go to every week.  

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bernese Freestyle Obedience

This video is of Ruth and her Berner Tonka performing a Freestyle Obedience demo at the recent BMD Club of America Specialty.  I had the pleasure of meeting Ruth and Tonka at last year's Canadian Specialty.  They are a great team to watch.   

I love this dog. 

Thanks Ruth for letting me post this on my blog.

Practice Day

I sweet talked Amy into letting me borrow her car (it is Mother's Day) so I could go out to the agility field to do a bit of training.  I am not very creative when it comes to jump work, so I usually just set up a double box jump, but I found this set-up in a Clean Run magazine and thought I would give it a try.  It was a lot of fun and there are so many things you can do with this.  Front crosses, rear crosses, lead out pivots, pinwheels, etc.  I worked this with both dogs, doing a few different skills and challenges with each of them.  I loved this little jump grid.  

I worked the dog walk with Bosley.  I lowered it to baby height for the first couple tries and then moved it up to full height.  He did great and I was less stressed today.  As long as I keep my distance from him and don't race him across, he seems to be fine.  If I move in too close he tends to push away from me causing him to lose some balance.  His contacts are great.  I also worked with him to get a verbal turn off of a contact.  He finally started to get this concept and was turning off of the A-frame and into a tunnel with only a bit of hesitation.

Maggie worked a bit on her weave poles today and I was getting nice lateral distance.  She tired pretty quickly, so I didn't push her too much.  I also jumped her a bit at 16" and she seemed to do fine.  No hesitation over the jumps and I don't think that she dropped one bar.
(Typical Maggie agility face)

Here is a nice shot showing the difference in size between Maggie and Bosley.  Last week when Maggie went back to class, a few people remarked how small she seemed.  She is the same size as she has always been, but everyone got so used to seeing only Bosley that they forgot there is such a large size difference between the two of them.   

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Yesterday morning on my way to work, I hit something that was on the road and blew out my tire.  The tire is not repairable, so I had to order a new one.  

My car is supposed to drive around on 4 tires just like this:

I now am driving around with one tire like this: 
(The bright yellow warning stickers are a nice touch)

Having to drive around with this stupid little donut tire means that I cannot drive over 80km/hr.  Not easy to do when I have to take the busiest and fastest road in town to get to work and back home again.  I was going to take the dogs to the agility field today to do some training, but I was not going to drive down the highway going 30 km/hr under the speed limit.

I hope my new tire comes in soon.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Couch Potato

*** I know, I know.  Beige furniture and black dogs are bad combination.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Questions Of The Day

Why, when I am walking my dogs, does someone always seem to comment "Who's walking who?", when both my dogs are walking perfectly nice beside me?

Why do some people who have small dogs, think it is funny when their little dogs growl, bark and lunge at my dogs?  

Just some "walking the dogs" annoyances.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

She's Back!

Tonight was Maggie's first agility practice in 5 months.  To say that she was excited to be there, is a big understatement.  The first thing she did was to run an "I'm Back" lap around the agility field and then greet everyone that she hasn't seen in such a long time.  I didn't do too much with her as she is out of practice and out of shape.  I only jumped her at 10" and did some fun and basic things with her. She needs to build up muscle and stamina, and I knew she was too excited to be playing agility again to concentrate on anything too difficult.  It is like she has never missed any agility at all - she even flew through the weaves with no problem.  

On another agility note, Bosley did the dog walk last night.  At full height.  He didn't fall off, although he stumbled once, and I didn't panic.  I am going to try to get out to the agility field as much as possible over the next few weeks and work the dog walk with him so that I am more comfortable with him charging across a 12" wide plank that is 5 feet off the ground.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Surgical Cure

When I got home from work today, there was a message on my phone saying Maggie's histopathology results were in.  I called the clinic, and it is good news!  It looks as if we have a surgical cure for Maggie's mast cell cancer.  The surgery provided clean margins and the lymph node is clear of any mast cells.  
I am so relieved to hear the news.  Maggie will be OK.  Now she can get back out there and kick some agility butt.

Friday, May 1, 2009

No More Stitches

Maggie got her stitches out today and got the go-ahead from the vet to start resuming her normal activities.   She can even go back to agility, as long as she takes it slow for the first while.

We are still waiting for the final pathology report.  The latest news that I have is the preliminary lymph node report which showed reactivity within the removed lymph node.  The lab needed to do a cell stain test to determine which cells are active - regular lymph node cells or cancerous cells.   Reactivity in the lymph node could be the body's natural response to the initial surgery (the lymph node just doing it's job) or it could mean that the mast cells invaded the lymph node.  The vet that removed Maggie's stitches today said that there is probably a 75% chance that the active cells are just normal lymph node cells.  I hope she is right, but the longer the results are taking, the more nervous I am getting.