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, January 28, 2010

Pet Friendly???

Why, oh why is it so difficult to find decent pet friendly hotel rooms?
I have been searching for a hotel room in Edmonton but Edmonton just does not seem to be very pet friendly. There is a shortage of hotels that will accommodate dogs and the ones that do allow dogs are are often in neighborhoods that do not seem very safe or the hotels are older and not well kept up.
Don't even get me started on the "small dog only" rule that many hotels have. How stupid is that policy?
In my recent hotel search, I found one "pet friendly" hotel that seemed nice but there was a $75 pet charge! $75 - how is that "pet friendly"!?! Ridiculous.

(Bosley, Amy and Maggie relaxing on a pet friendly hotel bed)
I did book a room in Edmonton. Well, a in city just outside Edmonton to be exact. It is very close to the trial and not too expensive. The Yellow Pages ad said the rooms are "clean" so that is a bonus :o

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Dork and A Star

This morning we drove out to Cowley where SAWDA was hosting an Obedience and Rally fun match. I went out for the Obedience portion because I wanted to try Bosley in Open. We have never done a complete run through of Open so I really wanted to see where he is at. I almost left Maggie at home, but then I decided to bring her - I figured she could try novice - I would just need to keep it fun for her and take her out of the ring if she started to stress and shut down.

Bosley is a Dork. That is a Dork with a capital "D". We really need to work on distractions and we need to get out and train in new places. I don't know if it is stress that causes his gawky-ness or if we just need to do more proofing (or a combination). I can't wait until the weather gets better and we can train at the park. Anyway, Bosley was so busy looking at things and not focusing on me that I was a bit frustrated. His heeling was laggy, especially on the outside turn of the figure 8. When heeling, I like my dogs to be looking up at me and when they just plod along beside me, I get a bit stressed. It took Bosley about half the heeling pattern before he actually looked at me. On a positive note, his retrieving was good - we have done little retrieving in new places, so I was pleased. He NQd the broad jump - he ran up to it and stopped like he didn't know what to do next. I took him back and ran with him once and then reset him and he did it fine. The out of sights stays were perfect - this is the first time we have practiced out of sights in a new place so I was pleased. So I was a bit frustrated - I know Bosley has the skills and working ability to do well in Open, but his easily distracted boy brain seems to cause us some problems.

Maggie was a Star today. That is a Star with a capital "S"! She was up, up, up for her whole novice routine. Her heeling was perfect - happy, totally focused, tail wagging, tight turns - perfect! (The heeling pattern was long too - and with 4 halts.) She did an auto finish on the recall, but everything else was bang on. She finished with a score of 196 and second place. Yay for Maggie! No signs of stress in the ring and when we were leaving to go home, she tried to run back to the ring area (hopefully that is a good sign).

(Thanks to Maureen for the great pictures!)

There is another fun match next weekend - so we will go try this all over again. If I can keep Maggie happy in the ring, I will be happy. If I can get Bosley to focus a bit more, I will be happy. Isn't dog training fun!?!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Bosley needs a little practice at this. Apparently the command "leave it" does not count as soon as my face disappears behind the camera.

Monday, January 11, 2010

For Sarge

My sister had to send her beloved Border Collie, Sarge to the Rainbow Bridge today.
Sarge will always be remembered for his silly puppy antics, his love of playing fetch and as a wonderful companion. He will be missed.
(Sarge at 13 years old)

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

First Agility Trial Of The Year

We didn't start our first trial off with a bang, but I am mostly pleased with how it went. I have a few things to work on with Bosley thats for sure.

Our first run of the weekend was Starters Gamblers. It was perfect - we even got a mini gamble and when the whistle blew we were in the perfect position to start the final Gamble. The final Gamble was jump - send to tunnel - stay out into another tunnel. Bosley went right out to the tunnel and finished the final gamble perfectly. Sounds good right? Not quite. There was something wrong with the timer so we had to do a re-run. In the re-run, I messed up my handling sending him into the final gamble and Bosley was confused as where to go. He tried hard to figure it out, but we ran out of time. Bummer. That's the way it goes sometimes, I guess.

The next two runs were Advanced Standard runs. On the first run we were doing great and then Bosley decided he would admire the judge as he was going up the teeter. He fell off the teeter, gave me a confused look and then hopped back on the teeter into his 2o2o position. Funny, but an NQ. His second Standard run, he went to check out some tunnel bags on his way to a jump so he had a refusal. NQ. On a good note, his weaves were beautiful and fast.

The last run Saturday was Starters Jumpers. He ran well, didn't stop and look at anything and he got a Q. Now he moves to Advanced Jumpers.

The first run of Sunday was Steeplechase. I usually do not enter my dogs in Steeplechase because it really is a fast dog game and my dogs just do not have the speed to qualify (well Maggie can have the speed when she decides to). My plan for steeplechase was just to run as fast as I could and have fun. There were 2 sets of 12 weaves and Bosley missed the entries on both sets - odd for him. It was a fun course.

Next we had 2 more Standard courses. Bosley was really gawking around on both runs. The first one he missed an easy weave entry because the sun was right in his eyes. NQ. The second run, he was so busy looking at where his treats were hidden for the end of his run, that he totally missed my serp cue and had a refusal. NQ.

The last run of the day was Advanced Snooker. I had my course planned so that we needed to get to the end of #6 in the closing to qualify. We should have been able to do this easily as I picked a good path that would have minimum yardage. Once again Bosley was gawking around, missed my cue to go over a jump, so I had to regroup him and get him back. This wasted a few seconds. The #6 in the closing was tunnel-jump-jump. We were just going to the 2nd jump when we ran out of time. Arrggg!

Bosley had some great moments this weekend - his weaves were good and when he is focused he really responds well. I really expected to get a Standard Q this weekend - so I am a bit frustrated that Bosley was so unfocused at times. I need to figure out how to keep Bosley's focus, especially now that the courses are getting more difficult and the times are getting tighter. I know I need to be tougher on him and give him a verbal correction when he starts gawking - this usually works. I also would like to get Bosley moving faster - he is really agile for such a large dog and he can run quite fast, so I don't like to see him trotting along the agility course. Maybe wind sprints are in Bosley's future training.

I also need to do some more jump work with Bosley. One of the judges (who also has Bernese) came to talk to me about Bosley's jumping. She said that he is using his front to propel himself over the jumps not his rear. He needs to learn how to use his rear end better so that his jumping is more efficient. She gave me some good ideas to start with and suggested using Susan Salo's jumpwork videos.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Week 1 of 52

This week began the first week for 52 Weeks For Dogs. I had a specific idea in mind for what I wanted - a picture of Bosley at sunset with the Rocky Mountains in the background. It is hard to capture on camera exactly what I have visioned in my mind.
This is the photo I chose for this weeks project. Although the mountains are not as vivid as I had hoped, I thought this picture had the best light on Bosley's face.

These are the runners up:

I liked the sunset and mountains on this shot but I didn't love the light on Bosley's face and his chin and neck seemed to blend together making him look awkward.
I really loved the background here. The colours of the sunset and the sillouetted mountains were very much like I had visioned. I found the snow on Bosley's face distracting and thought that the stronger background took away from the focus of the project (Bosley). I still really like this one though.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Puppy Story - Part 2

When Maggie was about a year old, I began my search for another Berner. I didn't want a puppy right away as Maggie was still a handful and so I wanted to wait until she was at least 2 before we got a new puppy. I had been looking around at several breeders when I went to the local dog show to see if there were any Berners entered. There were only a couple entered that weekend, but it was there that I met a wonderful lady, Maureen, who was campaigning her BISS boy, Onslow. He was so gorgeous and sweet, I knew that I wanted a boy dog next. Maureen was not planning any litters at the time, but she gave me the names of a couple breeders that she recommended. I knew that both these breeders had long waiting lists for their puppies, but that was fine with me as I wanted to wait at least that long before adding a new puppy. I called one of the breeders (Wanda) and she invited us to come up and visit and meet the dogs. She happened to have 2 litters of 3 week old puppies at the time. I didn't even ask about the puppies, assuming that they were all spoken for (and remember, I wanted to wait), but Colin saw those cute puppies and asked if there were any males not spoken for. Wanda said that she thought she would have a couple males available, as she had 3 litters that year and she normally only has one litter or maybe two. One mom was who 5 years old, never had a litter and so Wanda knew it was either breed her now, or spay her.
I asked Wanda lots of questions ( hopefully the right ones this time) and she asked us lots of questions. She was so helpful and sent us home with her contract to read and an application to fill out if we decided that we would like a puppy from her.
I filled out the application (before Colin changed his mind about getting another puppy right away)- it was about 5 pages long with lots of detailed questions about us, our home, what specific traits we were looking for in a puppy, and so on. Then we waited. We didn't know if she would approve us or if one of the puppies would match what we wanted. A few weeks later we finally got the word - she had a puppy for us!

We drove up to pick up our puppy on a Saturday. We had no idea which puppy we would be coming home with. Wanda had the structural evaluations done and 2 temperament tests done on the puppies and from there she matched up the puppies to the people.
When we got to Wanda's house, she was busy filling out paperwork with another couple. She sent us down to the puppy room to wait for her. The room was filled with all these cute, fluffy, sleeping puppies. As soon as the puppies realized that someone was there, they all started to wake up and come to visit us. There was one large puppy (Mr.Black), who ran right over to us and was very friendly. He then proceeded to bite the nearest puppy on the ear until he made them cry, then he would move on to another puppy and bite it on the ear. He was feisty!
While this was going on, there was a puppy stretched out (Mr.Green), sleeping in the middle of the room. All the other puppies were climbing over him to get to us and he would just open his eyes, grumble at the puppy tripping over him and then he would go back to sleep. Colin said "I want that one - he is lazy!" The puppy eventually opened his eyes and noticed we were there and came to visit.
By this time, Wanda was ready to let us know which puppy would be going home with us (she knew I wanted an obedience/performance dog, but wanted a dog that was a lot more mellow than Maggie). She looked through all her notes and had it narrowed down to 3 puppies. One of the puppies was Mr. Black (the biting puppy), one was Mr.Sparkles (a very cute boy) and one was Mr.Green (the lazy puppy). She eliminated Mr.Black quickly - thinking he was too dominant. She thought Mr. Sparkles was too barky. She thought Mr. Green was just right - he was middle of the road energy wise and thought he would make a good performance dog.
So, I got Bosley before I thought I was ready, but he turned out to be the perfect dog for us and I can't imagine not having him.
I am in regular contact with Wanda and she is always so supportive and appreciative of everything I do with Bosley.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Puppy Story - Part 1

It is always interesting to me how people acquire their puppies - whether through a rescue, a breeder, or the neighbour down the street. Maggie was my first purebred dog. All of the other dogs I had growing up were farm dogs, or mixed breed dogs given to us or dogs that just happened to end up with us. When we got Maggie, I really knew nothing about buying a purebred dog, except that getting a puppy from a pet store was bad. So once we decided to get a Bernese, we looked in the most logical place - The Dogs in Canada Annual. This must be a good place to find breeders right? There was a breeder listed that was close to us, and they happened to have puppies so we went to visit. The puppies were 5 weeks old and had never been in the house before - although they were cute, I knew that this wasn't right. Moving on. We found an ad for someone not close to us and gave her a call. She was super nice, had answers for all our questions and sent us information on her dogs, had a health guarantee on all her puppies and surprise! she just had 2 litters born and we could have our pick of the girls.
We had a hard time picking a puppy from just pictures, so we picked the only puppy that had freckles on her nose.

Maggie flew home to us when she was 10 weeks old. She popped out of her crate, tail wagging, ready to be part of our family. She was a bit wild, a lot naughty and very cute.
It was only after we got Maggie that I learned more about where she came from and how the questions I asked her breeder where probably not the right ones. For example - a dog tattoo has a series of letters and numbers that represent specific things. The first 3 letters are the unique combination that belong to a particular breeder. Following this is a number -each puppy is given a number determined by the order it was born in the year. The next letter represents the year that the puppy was born - eg.Maggie was born in 2005 so all puppies born in 2005 would have the letter "R" at the end of the tattoo. I didn't know how to read a tattoo until after we got Maggie. The number in her tattoo is 40. This means she was the 40th puppy born to her breeder in 2005. Maggie's birthday is February 14th. 40 puppies born in the first 6 weeks of the year. I figure that by the end of 2005 that over 100 puppies came from Maggie's breeder. I have found out several other things as well since we got Maggie, but nothing compares to the response I got when I emailed to tell Maggie's breeder that she had been diagnosed with Mast Cell Cancer. There was no response. Nothing at all.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bosley This Week

The countdown is on - only 3 months of training left until Bosley's planned Open Obedience debut. I worked him today on all the open exercises and was happy with all of them except the drop on recall. He has been really anticipating the drop, so I have been doing lots of straight recalls instead of drops. Today he totally blew off the drop when I asked. Arrggg!! Back to work on the DOR.

52 Weeks For Dogs
I have decided Bosley will be my subject for my 52 Weeks project. Maggie has great expressions and is very fun, but Bosley is just so much easier to work with. Since I am still learning about the whole photography thing, I went with the easier dog on this project. I already have an idea in mind for my first week, I just need the weather to cooperate so I can get the background that I am hoping for.

Bosley is entered in his first agility trial of the year next weekend. I am very happy we got in since so many trials around here have long waiting lists. I am extra excited to be going to this trial because Bernadette Van Klavern is a judge. She is a Bernese breeder and has had some of the top agility Berners in the country. I hope I am not too nervous running under her, and I hope Bosley behaves himself :0