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, October 27, 2009

Buster Cube

Maggie and Bosley love the Buster Cube.  What's not to love - a toy and treats all in one.  I stuff  the cube full of kibbles and watch the fun.  

Maggie and Bosley have different techniques to get those kibbles out of the cube.  Maggie uses the nose rolling technique.  This is usually very successful.

She has got very good at rolling and chasing the cube, waiting for the treats to fall out.

However, sometimes she gets impatient, and will pick up the cube and . . . 

. . . Throw it to the floor, hoping some treats will pop out of the hole.

Bosley uses a more "paws on" approach.

He grabs the cube with his big paws and shoves it around.

"Hey treats . . . I know you're in there!  Come on out!"

Sometimes Bosley will try to use his teeth to break into the cube - so far this method has not worked so well.

Bosley's favorite technique, and the one that requires the least energy, is following Maggie around and grabbing the treats as they fall out of her cube.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Common Ancestor

There is a very informative on-line site called the Berner-Garde Foundation which collects health and pedigree information about the Bernese Mountain Dog.  It is an open site, which means that anyone can get access to the information.  Breeders and dog owners use this site to share information about their dogs in order to try help improve the health of the breed.

Both of my dogs came to me with a 4 generation pedigree and that is the pedigree that you see when you look up their information in the Berner-Garde database.  Tonight, I was looking at their pedigrees a bit further back using the Berner-Garde database, and what did I find?  Maggie and Bosley have a common ancestor.  Jerry V Rosiendlithal is a dog from Switzerland that shows up 5 generations back in Maggie's pedigree and 6 generations back in Bosley's pedigree.  I never expected to find a link in Maggie and Bosley's pedigrees, but I should not be too surprised, as Bernese have a very limited gene pool and Jerry V Rosiendlithal shows up over and over in many pedigrees.  Jerry is an FCI International/World/Swiss/Nordic/Danish Champion.  No wonder he was so popular.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rally Obedience Fun Match

This morning, SAWHDA hosted a Rally fun match.  It was a very good turn out - there were even 2 other Berners there.  

I took both dogs today.  Maggie has not done any obedience outside the house in over a year.  She was getting too stressed in the ring and would shut down at the slightest hint that she was performing so I quit doing any obedience with her.  I thought I would see how she would do today, and she did great!  She was happy the whole time in the ring, tail wagging and focused.  Maybe she will be able to get back in the obedience ring yet.

Bosley did good today too.  We haven't practiced any Rally stuff in a very long time, so we were both a bit rusty.  I need to get better at memorizing the course and not reading the signs so much.  When I stop to read the signs (or get lost) I take my focus off Bosley and then he quits focusing on me.  We had fun.

It was a very fun way to spend the morning.

Friday, October 16, 2009

7 Groups - Dream Dogs

Amanda at ManyMuddyPaws blogged today about what dog she would pick from each of the 7 CKC/AKC groups and why. The rules of the game are that you cannot choose the breed(s) of dog that you currently own.  Here are my picks:

Group 1 - Sporting:  This is a tough group to choose from as there are so many great sporting breeds.  As much as I love some of the breeds, I would not choose a dog that loves the water.  I am not a water person (can't swim and am a bit afraid of water), so it would not be fair to have water loving breed.  So, I think I would choose one of the Setters - most likely the English Setter but I really love the Irish Setter as well.  I love the way they look - their soft expression and all that feathering.  They are also just nice, sweet dogs with calm and gentle personalities.  

Group 2 - Hounds:  I don't have too much experience with many of the hounds breeds, but of the ones that I have met or known, I would choose the Whippet.  They are such fun dogs and I love how graceful they are.

Group 3 - Working:  Oh my, this is a hard group for me to choose from.  There are so many dogs in the working group that I love  so it is hard to narrow it down to just one (beside the Berners of course).   I think I would have to choose the Doberman.  I love, love, love the look of these dogs - which is weird because I usually like the fluffy dogs - but I love the regal look of the Doberman.  I also love watching them work.  They are so focused and intense and they always seem to have an amazing connection with their owners. 

Group 4 - Terriers:  There are so many of the terriers that I really admire but I don't think that I would be the right owner for a terrier.  They say that people are like their dogs, and I don't think that I am feisty enough to own a terrier.  That being said, I would choose the Border Terrier.  I love their scruffy faces and their spunky personality.

Group 5 - Toys:  I had to think the longest about this group.  There is a lady that I have met at a few agility trials that has a really awesome long haired Chihuahua.  If I could get a dog just like hers, that is what I would choose from the toy group.

Group 6 - Non-Sporting:  I think I would choose the Keeshond.  It is my favorite of the Spitz breeds.

Group 7 - Herding:  This is another group that is very hard to choose from.  There are so many awesome dogs in the herding group - there are only a couple that I would not consider.  It is a very close decision between about 5 breeds, but I would choose the Australian Shepherd - tri-colored of course!  I like the Aussie because they are super smart and have good working drive without being too over the top intense.  They are also very beautiful.

It is fun to stop and dream about all the different dogs that I would like to own.  What would you choose?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Positive Reinforcement

This is very funny!!!  Positive reinforcement at work.

. . . clip from the TV show "Big Bang Theory".

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pictures Of The Draft Test

Basic Cart Control Exercises

Preparing to do a right turn around the tree.

Just finished a left turn through the trees.

More basic cart control.

A "Halt" command.

Getting ready to do the figure 8 exercise.

The figure 8.

Made it through the figure 8 pattern!  What a good boy!

Ready to back-up.  Notice the back-up stick in the snow next to the wheel?  Bosley backed up 4 feet, with no problem.

Leaving the cart control ring.

Freight Haul Exercise

Getting ready to begin the freight haul.

Part of the course.

Loading the freight - 40 pounds of water.

The judge making sure the load is secure.

The narrow area where Bosley's wheel bumped the post as we were trying to make the sharp turn to the left while going down the incline.

A big thanks to Pat for taking all the great pictures!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Draft Test

Today was our Draft Test day.  We drove to Bragg Creek early this morning where we were greeted with a ground covered in snow.  Bosley's eyes almost popped out of his head when I took him out of the car. "It's Snowing!  It's Snowing!"  I wasn't sure how the day was going to progress with all the snow on the ground and falling from the sky, and Bosley's apparent joy at all the white stuff.  We have never carted in the snow and we certainly have never done obedience in the snow.  

The Draft Test is broken down into 3 parts and is a pass/fail test.  All 3 judges must give you a passing score on each section of every part of the test in order to earn a draft title. 

The first part of the test is Basic Control which involves an off-leash heeling pattern, a 1 minute stand-stay and a 3 minute group down-stay.  With all the snow on the ground, I had visions of Bosley taking off on his heeling to go roll in the snow.  I was able to keep his attention and he did some nice heel work.  His stand-stay and down-stay were perfect!  So, we passed the first part of the test.

Part 2 - basic cart control.  Harnessing and hitching - your dog must stand still while you get the harness, put the harness on then bring the cart and hitch the cart and then wait for the judges' command to continue.  We have been struggling with this part as Bosley gets excited when he sees the harness and cart and will move towards me or he will start to go as soon as he is hitched, without waiting for a command from me.  Today - he was perfect!  Next is a carting pattern with left and right turns, halt and slow commands.  The turns were around trees and over tree roots but Bosley did great.  His halt was very good, but his slow wasn't as nice as I would have liked, but it was good enough to pass.  Next is a figure 8 pattern which Bosley did no problem.  The last part of cart control is the backup.  Your dog must backup 4 feet, and should be fairly straight.  Bosley's backup was perfect - no hesitation and very straight.  We passed the second part of the test.

Part 3 - Freight Haul.  This section of the test was done over rougher terrain, up and down hills and through heavily treed areas.  We followed a course through the varying terrain until we got to our "freight"(which in today's test was a large water cooler filled with 40 pounds of water. Your dog must stop and not move until you load and secure the freight. Bosley did great with this part. We continued on the course with our load and had to go down a slight incline that was very narrow and curved sharply.  It had a post on one side and a dip on the other that lead into some trees and heavy shrubs.  I tried hard to get Bosley lined up properly, but his wheel hit the post.  Running into a solid object with your cart is a fail.  Since we were the first team to go, we didn't have the advantage of seeing the other teams negotiate this tough area.  The next two teams after us failed at this spot as well.  The last two teams managed to make it past this area but it wasn't easy for either of them.  You needed to have very good control of your dog in this freight haul section.  We finished the course and Bosley stood nice to be unloaded and unhitched.

I am so happy with how Bosley did today.  All of the things that we have been working hard at he passed easily.  I was very proud of how he did.  The Bragg Creek test seems to be known for it's higher level of difficulty (at least everyone tells me it is a tough test) so I am very happy we did so well, especially considering this was my first draft test.  Although we didn't pass this time, I am not disappointed at all.

One dog passed the test today - a very nice Bouvier who did a wonderful job.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Spring In Her Step

It has officially been autumn for a couple weeks, but it now actually feels like autumn.  The cooler fall weather makes Maggie very happy and puts a little extra bounce in her step: