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, August 31, 2010

Bernese In CKC Agility

This is a bit of continuation of my thoughts from my last post and how few Bernese actually participate/qualify in agility trials in Canada. I looked up some CKC stats and last year (2009) there were 34 agility legs earned by Bernese. Out of those 34 qualifying runs, 19 legs (56%) were earned by my 2 dogs.
Understandably, most people do not get a Bernese Mountain Dog with the intentions of doing agility with them but there are many people who have been very successful competitively with their Bernese. As a matter of fact, just this past weekend, a Berner earned an AKC MACH4. That is a pretty amazing accomplishment for any dog to achieve.
I think most people think of Bernese as big, lumbering, lazy dogs but in reality, they were traditionally used as an all purpose farm dog who would work all day with it's owner. Bernese may be lazier now than when they had to work on Swiss farms all day, but I think the majority of them still really love to work, especially since that means they get to spend time with their owner. Bernese are really all about the connection they have with their people and agility as well as other dog sports are a great way to fulfill that need.


I am not the type of person who seeks out attention or public recognition.  Some people thrive on being the center of attention, but that kind of stuff makes me a bit uncomfortable.  However, this weekend at our agility trial, I was extremely honored to be given a Judges Choice Award by Christina Saunders.  She used myself and my dogs as an example of a team that can compete in agility and enjoy agility even though I do not have one of the typical agility breeds.  (There are very few people competing with Bernese in agility and Bernese are almost never seen at the higher levels.)  She mentioned the people she sees that make excuses in training and trialing because they have a breed that is not a Border Collie or a Sheltie and she complimented the way I train and handle my dogs.  I just run my dogs for who they are.  I have had a judge in the past make a mean, off-handed remark to me about Bernese in agility, so to have Christina give me her judges choice award based on the breed that I run, that means a lot to me.  It really does.

I guess I don't think about this stuff too much.  I just have fun with my dogs and don't use their breed as an excuse for not being able to accomplish something. I am proud to run my big Bernese in agility.  I owe much of this to Sarah and Amanda.  They never have any "breedist" attitudes in class and problems are always training issues, not breed issues.  I know not all instructors or schools are like this and I always feel so lucky to have such supportive instructors and agility friends.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Go!Dog!Go! Agility Trial

This weekend, our agility club hosted our annual agility trial.  It sure is great to have a trial at home and not need to travel, even if the weather was rainy on Sunday.  The best part of the weekend was seeing the group of new students from our club participate in their very first trial.  This group started training last spring(2009) and they have been working so hard to get ready for this trial.  All the hard work paid off and they all did great!  I was so excited to see them run and see their dogs have a great time out on course.  I think the handlers had a good time too and if they were nervous, you sure couldn't tell.

For my own dogs, I couldn't have been happier with them.  The cooler weather sure does make a difference in how they run.  I have also been feeling more confident on course lately, so that may make a difference as well.

Maggie was entered in 5 runs over the weekend.  She ran well in all her runs - she was fast but didn't get the zoomies and she tried very hard.  She had great times in her 2 Masters Standard runs, but had weave faults in each.  She tried very hard in the 2 Masters Gambler runs and had lots of points in her openings, but distance work is hard for her, and although she tried hard to figure out what I wanted her to do, she did not get the final gambles.  She did have an awesome Masters Snooker run and earned a 'Q' for her efforts.  Yay Maggie!

Bosley worked very hard this weekend, and was under time in all his runs (even Jumpers).  He had an awesome Advanced Standard run, but then knocked the very last bar - it was totally my fault too.  There was a very odd finish line, so I decelerated at the last jump instead of running straight through, so Bosley pulled up and knocked the bar.  His second Standard run was very nice too, and he "Q'd that one and was 11 seconds under time.  He was the only dog who qualified in that run.

Bosley's Advanced Gamblers runs were really, really good.  I used to dread running in Gamblers, but I have worked hard to get some distance with Bosley, and he rocked it this weekend.  He 'Q'd his first Gambler run with 48 points.  The second run he 'Q'd with an amazing (for Bosley) 76 points where he managed to do the 12 point mini gamble twice.  This one had a tricky final gamble and only 2 dogs were able to get the final.  So now Bosley moves to Masters Gamblers (yikes!).  We will need to work on more distance in the weaves and get him more confident turning away from me.

Bosley ran nice in both his Advanced Jumpers.  The Saturday run, he knocked the first bar, but did well on the rest and finished 4.5 seconds under time.  In Sunday's run, he ran fast the entire course, even through the twisty parts, and he got his first Advanced Jumpers 'Q'.

Bosley was also entered in Advanced Snooker.  We had a great opening and needed to get to the end of 6 in the closing to qualify.  Bosley knocked a bar in the #5 sequence so we got tweeted off.  Not sure why that bar fell, but it was raining when we were running so maybe that was why.  Regardless, we were so close, and Bosley ran great.

Only one more outdoor trial left this season.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

There's An App For That

Not too long ago, I downloaded a fitness app for my Iphone. It is just a simple GPS program that tells you how far you have walked/hiked/ran and how long it took you. It records your progress and it also maps your route (which is very cool). I thought it would be a fun app to have, but I always forget to turn it on when I start our walks. The other day, I was taking the dogs for their quick evening walk around the neighborhood and I finally remembered to turn that darned app on for once. I was very surprised to find out that our "short" walk was actually 5km (3 miles) - granted, it is all on sidewalk with no hills, so it doesn't take us too long (40 minutes). Now I am curious to know how far we go on a "regular" walk, which is on average 75-90 minutes (when the weather is cool enough, of course). Hopefully, this app is a good motivator for me and the dogs to walk longer distances and try out new hiking routes.

**** A couple people have asked which app I am using. It is the Sprint GPS. I can't remember if it is a free app or not. If not, it was only a couple dollars.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Birthday Surprise

Four years ago today, a little baby Bosley was born.

Here is Bosley the day we brought him home at 9 weeks old.

Here is Bosley now:  grown up and handsome.

Today we got up and went for a nice birthday walk.  It was very cool outside this morning, so we got to take an extra long walk, which rarely happens in the summer.  So that was a nice birthday surprise for Bosley.

We then came home and took some birthday pictures.

There was another birthday surprise today.  I thought Bosley should wear his backpack on his walk so  I put the pack on him and when I opened it up to put in some bottles of water:  Surprise - there was a toy inside.  A while ago, I lent the pack to Wendy as she was thinking about purchasing one.  I let her try out the one I have to see how her dog Coulee liked it, and as a thank you, Wendy left a toy inside the pack with a thank you message attached.  Bosley is not much into toys, but Maggie has been playing with it all morning.

New toys make Maggie very happy - thanks Wendy!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Agility At Spruce Meadows

This weekend we had the pleasure of playing agility at the world famous equestrian centre Spruce Meadows. The Alberta Kennel Club held it's annual summer show at Spruce Meadows for the first time this year. It is such a beautiful venue -everything is so pristine. There are even people in big golf carts who come by to drive you, your dog and all of your gear to and from the parking lot. Very fancy!

Here is Bosley posing next to one of the horse exercise paddocks. There were horses in it earlier in the day, but they were gone by the time I got out my camera to take pictures.

In addition to the thrill of competing at Spruce Meadows, Bosley had a really good weekend. He only had one run that was a bit pokey, but the rest were great. One of his standard runs was 13 seconds under time, which is huge for Bosley. His weaves were really good - he is finally getting used to the 24" spacing. He did miss 3 weave entries today - one because he was distracted by something outside the ring and the other two I thought he got, but he missed at the last second. More weave entry work coming up for Bosley. He responded nice to my handling and even did a beautiful serpentine today. He had some really nice runs, and besides the couple of flubbed weave entries, I was super happy with his performance all weekend.

We came away from the weekend with 3 Qs - 2 Standard and 1 JWW. (We should have had another standard Q, but for some weird reason Bosley stopped to sniff the table before he jumped on, so we had a refusal.) So in 2 weekends, Bosley has earned 6 Excellent B 'Q's. I am pretty amazed with that actually. Now I really want to do more CKC agility - but there are no more trials nearby until next summer. Bummer.

Here is Bosley outside the agility rings. Look at that beautiful grass we got to run on. It was perfect - no lumps or bumps and no gopher holes! I can't wait to go back next year.

The funniest part of the weekend was the huge crowds that would come and watch. We are not used to this in agility. Everyone would cheer when the dogs did something good and they would "awwww" when a dog would knock a bar. They would laugh when handlers messed up. Bosley got lots of cheers for his weaving - I don't think people expect a big dog to be able to weave like he does. The spectators really enjoyed watching and it is fun to see the reactions of people who are not involved in the sport. As competitors, we get so focused on watching the handler errors and the technical side of the sport, that sometimes we forget to watch just for the fun of it.