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 2, 2011

Some Nice Things

After the negativity of my last post I thought I should concentrate on some of the nice things that have been happening lately.  

Last year, when Bosley passed his Draft test, he qualified for the BMDCC Working Dog Award.  To earn this award your dog must have a CD title plus titles in two other approved performance areas (draft, agility, tracking or herding).  This award is to honour the working dog heritage of the Bernese Mountain Dog.  The certificates are presented at the National Specialty and since I wasn't there this year, mine came in the mail a couple weeks ago.  I still need to frame it, but here is a picture. 

Another nice thing is that Bosley has earned both his Scent Hurdle Dog and his Scent Hurdle Dog Excellent titles in the past couple weeks.  What is most exciting about this is that it makes him the first Bernese to earn a Scent Hurdle title and he gets his picture on the BMDCC website "Berner Firsts" page. You can check out the BMDCC website BMD Firsts In Canada but you need to scroll all the way to the bottom to find Bosley.

We also had something nice happen in agility.  The Dogs In Canada agility stats for 2010 came out and Bosley made the cut!!!  Points are based on YPS only and since we get to very few CKC trials, and Bosley is not always the quickest out there, I was very surprised at the results.  He finished as the #1 Bernese Mountain Dog and as  #4 in the Working Group.

Another nice thing is that I found this window static sticker this weekend at the dog show.  It is really hard to find Bernese Agility stuff and I couldn't help but buy this sticker for my car.  How cute is this?

It is nice to focus on the good stuff as sometimes it is easy to get caught up in those pesky negative thoughts.  So, here is to "good things" :)

Friday, July 15, 2011


There are always people in this world who seem to live their lives looking for the negative in everything and stirring up trouble.  How they live like this, and feel good about it, I will never know.  I usually try to avoid these types of people and not get caught up in their world.  I like to think of myself a positive, easygoing person and I try not to let little things bother me.  But sometimes when my world encounters someone who I think has gone a bit overboard on stirring up trouble and negativity, I get a bit ticked off.

Last weekend, my friend Jo and I went to an obedience fun match in Calgary.  The invitation for the Fun Match said "no choke collars or prong collars allowed".  No problem - I never use either in my training and even if I did, I would respect the rules that other clubs have in place.  So, we go to the Fun Match, visit with a few of the people there that I know from trialling, do a run through with Bosley (which I was very pleased with) and went home.  I thought it was a good day.

Fast forward a few days and I hear that someone complained about me and how I treated my dog.  They said I was using a choke chain and giving Bosley corrections.  Now, first of all, NO ONE from the Calgary clubs know me or know how I treat my dogs in or out of training.  They have maybe seen me in a couple trials or at the very few fun matches I have gone to.  None of these people really know me personally.  This makes me angry - that someone would jump conclusions about me and my training.  Second, I was NOT using a choke chain.  Bosley's obedience show and training collar is a martingale.  If someone thought I was using something different, come and ask me - face to face - don't just assume.  Third, the person hosting the Fun Match has got into trouble because of something that I didn't even do.  I can ignore someone that I don't know who said something negative about me - I really don't care what people who I don't know (or who don't know me) think about me.  But I do care that my perceived actions got someone else in trouble.  That is NOT fair.

Jo took a video of my run through so that I could watch it to see how Bosley was doing in the ring (it is easier to see things through video then trying to remember what happened).  The person who complained, who I am quite sure doesn't know either Jo or I, somehow found the video on Jo's YouTube page and forwarded it to the owner of the facility.  The owner of the facility has threatened to ban the host of the Fun Match from using her facility again.  So, I went back and watched the video again - maybe I missed something.  The only thing in the video that I could see was that when we were waiting for our turn to go in the ring, I gave Bolsey a tug on his collar.  It was a light, sideways tug that wouldn't have been strong enough to tighten the chain on the martingale.  It was not a pop or a correction - just a "pay attention" tug.  I kept his lead on during the heeling so that I could prevent any lagging, but I didn't need to use the lead/collar once during our heeling.  His collar could be mistaken for a choke in the video - but how about someone ask me about it, not just conclude that I must be jerking and yanking my dog.

I am all for positive training.  I am a positive trainer myself.  But there are a group of people who need to get off their high horse and realize that just because you don't use a clicker 100% of the time,  or use anything but a flat collar, or maybe add a correction (gasp) occasionally, that does not mean that those dogs are being abused in their training.  There are certainly bigger issues in the dog world than someone using a martingale at a fun match.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bad Blogger

I haven't updated my blog in over a month!  What a bad blogger I am.  Does busy and tired count as an excuse for not keeping on top of my blog?  Here is a quick update.

We have been trying to enjoy the summer before it is gone.  We have been doing some obedience and agility training but I haven't had time to get Bosley in his cart for a while.

We were at an agility trial a couple weekends ago.  Bosley earned an Excellent B Standard Q and and Excellent B JWW Q.  That brings our total of 'B' Qs up to 8, so slowly we are making some progress there.

We also did some Scent Hurdle racing the weekend of the agility trial.  Bosley was a good boy (but not too fast after doing agility all day in the heat) and he only brought back the wrong dumbbell once.  He earn 10 more points towards his SHD title.

Thanks to Wendy at Paws On The Run Photography for the wonderful agility and scenthurdle pictures.

Maggie has just been hanging out.  She did an agility demo on Canada Day and had a blast playing agility and visiting with all the kids.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Well, it looks like we won't be doing a draft test this year.

At the beginning of the year, I was unsure if we would be ready to enter the DDX test. A couple months ago, I decided that we could be ready. We just needed to tweak our behind-the-cart skills and Bosley needed to get used to wearing the backpack for the backpack portion of the test. I was getting excited to enter.

There is one draft test a year in our province. This year it is being held in conjunction with the Alberta Kennel Club's big summer show at Spruce Meadows. The premium list for the draft test came out a couple weeks ago. There is no DDX being offered. They are only offering the DD test this year. I am not sure why as draft tests usually have small entries, so there should be plenty of time to test the few DDX dogs that would enter. The only reason I can think of is because the location it is being held at. The DDX test is very demanding, both in skill and in the type of terrain that you need to navigate. The backpack portion is usually in heavily treed areas with streams and challenging obstacles. The Spruce Meadows area is very flat and bare.

I guess Bosley will have another year (at least) to get used to wearing that evil backpack.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Something was really wrong with Bosley the other night at agility class.

Bosley is a dog with very low prey/chase drive.  He never pays any attention to gophers when they are running around.  When we are out for a walk and a rabbit runs by, he will watch it run and will maybe make a half-hearted attempt of 5 or 6 steps to chase it, but that is it.

That all changed the other night.  It was our turn in agility and Bosley was on the top of the dogwalk, when a cat (who knows why there was a cat on the agility field) ran by.  The cat was not even close to us, but Bosley saw it and stopped on the dogwalk to watch it.  I didn't think too much of it because Bosley likes cats (well, he is more curious about them than anything).  He ran to the bottom of the dogwalk and then took off like a shot after the cat.  The cat hid in some tall grass and Bosley stuck his nose in there and got a swat.

It all broke loose after that.  Apparently Bosley doesn't take kindly to being swatted across the nose by cat claws.  The cat took off running with Bosley in hot pursuit, howling and carrying on like he was possessed.  The cat climbed up this big log pile and Bosley climbed up right after him.  The cat would swat him and Bosley would jump off the log pile and then climb right back up again. The cat finally ran and jumped over the 6 foot fence that surrounds the field.  I thought that Bosley was actually going to jump the fence - he was trying to climb it and actually got his front paws to the top of the fence but luckily he couldn't pull himself over.

The whole time I was screaming at him and he didn't even look at me - I'm not sure he even knew I was there, he was so focused on getting that cat.  I grabbed him and drug him back to the agility area where everyone was waiting for us to come back (they couldn't see what was happening from where they were).  Everyone looked up shocked as I brought Bosley back, blood pouring from his face.  A couple people thought he killed that cat, that was how much blood there was.  Luckily, Sarah had a first aid kit so we were able to clean him up and disinfect the scratches.  He only had a few claw marks on his nose, but they sure bled like crazy.

I really don't know what was with him.  I thought dogs were supposed to be smart and when a cat swats them, they are supposed to learn their lesson.  Apparently that just makes Bosley really, really angry.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

MAD Maggie

This past weekend we headed out to the first outdoor agility trial of the year.  On Maggie's very first run of the weekend, she qualified in Masters Standard to finish her Masters Agility Dog of Canada title! 
 To some people this is not a big deal, but for Maggie and I, it is like getting an ATCh - something I was never sure we would achieve.  This will be the last agility title that Maggie and I earn together.  I promised her that once she finished her MADC, she would get to retire from competitive agility.  She will still get to play and do demos and the occasional local trial just for fun but no more trialling.  

Maggie is such a good dog and she really does love to play at agility but I know she doesn't always love the ring and she only does it because I ask her too.  I can really see her slowing down physically and because her poor structure, I do not think it is fair to ask her to keep competing in such a demanding sport.  It is sad to see our competing days coming to an end but Maggie will have fun doing other things. She loves to do agility demos and have people cheering for her so she will keep doing that.  She will get to come out and have fun training but without the pressure of competing, so our fun is not over.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Maggie - Your Tour Guide

"Hi, I am Maggie and I will be your tour guide for the the day.  Today we are going to visit the University that is right by my house.  We go to the University often but just to where the big fields are. My mom takes me there to do my tracking and Bosley gets to go there to practice his carting.  We sometimes just go there for a nice walk around the lake.  But today you will get a special treat.  My Mom took me right on campus where the students hang out.  There weren't many students there today because it is summer break, but a few people stopped to pet me, which is always nice.  Anyway, on to our tour:
Here I am in the big sculpture thing that is right outside the Student Union building.  It probably has an official name, but I don't know any of that stuff - I'm just a dog"

"Next we will visit the sculpture park where we find this interesting sculpture with a chair under it.  For some odd reason, the chair is on these springy things so it moves when you are on it.  Good thing I'm an agility dog and don't mind sitting on something that is wiggling around.  Your everyday, average dog tour guide would not be able to show you this work of art by posing on it, so you are lucky that I am your tour guide today"

"Next we take a walk down the side of a building where we find this very interesting pattern.  Not sure what this is all about, but my Mom thought it would make an interesting picture."

"Moving on to more of the sculpture park.  This sculpture is filled with books.  Not sure how they got all those books stuffed in there, but some of them looked interesting even though I didn't see anything dog related."

"Here is a picture of the entire piece of art.  See the book on the very top?  That's funny.  On another interesting tour note, the long building in the background is U-Hall.  This is the oldest building on campus.  U-Hall was designed by a world famous architect, but I don't know his name, I just know he is very famous.  The building was built right into the side of the coulee so that it would blend in with nature.  Nature is good - so that was a very nice idea."

"Since the University was originally built into the side of the hills, that means that there are a lot of stairs.  Here I am taking a rest on some stairs.  We didn't go all the way up them, so I can't tell you what is at the very top, but I am sure I saw some doors that probably go somewhere very interesting"

"This is one of the newer building on campus.  It looks fancy with it's big pillars"

"Outside the fancy, big pillar building are these mirror window things.  I like these mirror windows, they make me look long and sleek like a Greyhound, don't you think?"

"My next stop on our tour takes us to this nice rocky place.  It is kind of like being in the mountains.  We climbed up the rocks and had a great time.

"This rocky place is also a good place to take a rest.  If you are coming to this place, I suggest bringing some water.  My mom left the water in the car and all that rock climbing made me thirsty.  She should really know better, but she didn't expect that we would be doing any mountain climbing today"

"The final stop on our tour takes us back to the sculpture park.  This piece of art has very nice lines and movement.  It really 'speaks to me'.  This was my favourite sculpture in the park"

"Well, that ends our tour for today.  I hope you enjoyed having a look around the University and some of the interesting things that it has to offer.  I also must mention that there are lots of gophers here, if that is your thing.  I really wanted to chase them and catch them and shake them, but my Mom said that's not good for the tourism business."

"So, until next time, this is Maggie your tour guide wishing you happy touring"

Agility Class

In this week's agility class we ran this Gamblers course from one of last years Regionals.  It has lots of opportunity for some good points in the opening, which was nice to see.  Some Gamblers courses have a nasty setup for getting opening points, especially for dogs like mine that need something that flows to keep their momentum going.  

I was super happy with Bosley on this run through.  He had a nice opening and he nailed the final gamble.  In our set up, I think the teeter was a bit further behind the tunnel then the course map shows, as the dogs really had to go back to get the teeter and they could not see it at all when they exited the tunnel.  This course gave me a bit more confidence with our distance work - we will get a Masters Gamblers Q yet :)  Too bad all Gambles didn't have the teeter - Bosley loves the teeter!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Obedience Disasters

So I am a bit behind on my blogging, so I will do a quick post about our obedience trial last weekend. I can pretty much sum it up in one word . . "Yikes!".

Friday's run started out OK - we lost 5 marks on heeling for a bit a lagging and a lot of sniffing the posts on the figure 8. Drop on Recall was great as was the Retrieve on Flat. Then was the Retrieve Over High. I threw the dumbbell, and sent Bosley out. He took the jump, went straight to his dumbbell and bent to pick it up. Right before he grabbed it, his nose came up and he was doing some serious air scenting. He caught the smell of something. I was hoping he would be a good boy and just get his dumbbell, but no, he figured out where the smell was coming from. Someone had a big bag of rollover on their crate just on the other side of the ring, and Bosley jumped the ring gates to go get it. Bad Boy. Good thing the owner of the treats saw what was happening and she grabbed them before Bosley could. Bosley then ran to our setup to see if he could get any of his own treats, but I always keep them zipped up in our training bag. By this time I was calling him and at least he was good enough to come running back in the ring, over the ring gates. Luckily we had a super nice judge who said "training in not allowed in the ring, but if you happen to send him out to his dumbbell again, I told you that training in the ring is not allowed". I sent him again and he got his dumbbell (which was still laying out there from the first throw) and brought it back perfect. Then, he stepped through the broad jump.

Saturday didn't get much better except that Bosley didn't leave the ring. But, we failed heeling. Heeling? Really? And he stepped through the broad jump again. And laid down on his out of sight sit - his stays are usually solid and I don't even worry about them.

I really left the weekend feeling not too good about the whole obedience thing. This is the first weekend I have ever felt like this after doing obedience. It wasn't just because Bosley failed a couple things - I can deal with that as long as I have a nice overall performance. I really had to work hard to keep his focus at all. Frustrating.

So, Wednesday I went to Calgary to do a private obedience lesson with an obedience judge/instructor/competitor. I have a great group of people that I train with here, but I just needed a fresh perspective on what I am doing. So I made the 4 hour round trip for a 1 hour lesson. We started with her saying "show me your heeling". I took about 3 steps and she said "OK, stop there". Uh Oh. She made some little changes to when and how I reward. She said Bosley has a great foundation but I just missed a step along the way and that is letting him know that when we are working, we are working. He doesn't get a choice and I can't let him gawk around. When we are working, he is focused on me only. She said I am too easy on him :) I laughed - I certainly know that is true.
She also gave me some proofing ideas for his dumbbell and some ways to make the retrieve more fun for him. So, lots of good stuff packed into that hour lesson. Now I just need to work hard at putting everything together. We have 2 months until our next trial and I really hope to see some improvement by then.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spring Training

Last night was our first agility class back outside after the very long winter.  Our last agility trial was in February, and I have given Bosley an agility break since then.  I think he has been out to train twice in the past 3 months.

Apparently the break was good for him, because he was very excited to be out in class last night.  We ran a jumpers course from a past regionals event, so the course was very technical with a couple very tricky spots.  Bosley ran the course fast and smooth and we both handled the difficult parts well.  It felt really, really good to run such a difficult course so well.  We have a few agility trials planned for the upcoming summer months, so we have some work to do to get Bosley conditioned to do all that jumping again (although he didn't seem to have much trouble last night) and we need to work on distance again as we haven't done any gamble work for quite a while.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Nice Day For A Walk

When the dogs and I went on our walk this afternoon, I decided to take one of my favourite routes starting at the University ending at Indian Battle Park (and of course back again).  We haven't taken this route for a while, so I was excited to get going.

We drove into the parking lot and right near the spot where I always park were a herd of deer.  Here are two of them, wondering why we were interrupting their grazing.

This picture was taken from my car window - those deer aren't too scared.

The dogs started barking at them, so they decided they would move on a bit.

So we started our walk.  The first part of the walk is all downhill.  The hill is long and fairly steep.  This picture is near the top and if you look carefully, you can see two people on the trail ahead of us - they are at about the half way point of the hill.  Our walk takes us down the hill, then over the pedestrian river bridge (which is where the road is that you see to the left) and then to Indian Battle Park which is in the area of the large suspension bridge on the far left of the picture.

Here we stopped in the park for a water break and to take some pictures.

This is the picture I used for Maggie's 52 week project.  While I was taking pictures of Maggie, I told Bosley to go lay down.  He decided the perfect place was in the shade behind the bench Maggie was on.  You can see his big head if you look behind the bench.  Funny.

We wandered around the park, which was very busy today, and then we headed home.  This is the path heading back towards the University.  Things are slowly starting to get green.

And of course, what goes down, must go back up.  Here we are on the long walk back up the hill.  This is about at the half way point.  I needed to stop and take off my jacket - it's a lot harder work walking back up.

So, a very nice, enjoyable walk today.  The dogs thought it was a bit too warm though - they are still wishing it was snowy.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Some Thoughts

A couple weeks ago, a friend asked me if I have ever considered getting a different breed of dog. She knows I like to do lots of dog sport stuff and since she has Bernese herself, she knows that sometimes the breed has limitations when it comes to being competitive. Bernese are not the fastest agility dogs and they tend not to like work that involves a lot of repetition, like obedience.
My answer was easy - my dogs are my pets and companions first and competition/performance dogs second and I have yet to find another breed that appeals to me as much as the Berners do.

Yes, I could be a lot more competitive in agility with one of the "typical" agility breeds but I don't know if I could really provide the right type of home that a high drive, competitive dog would need. I love my cuddly dogs who fit well into my lifestyle. If I want to hike for 2 hours they are up for it. If I want to nap on the couch for 2 hours, they are up for that too.

There are plenty of breeds that I admire and some that I have seriously considered as a "contender" to fit into my household, but something or another just does not seem right. When we get a dog, it should be with some thoughtfulness considering how that dog will fit into our lifestyle. We may get a dog with the intentions of it being a "performance" dog, but often that does not always work out for various reasons. That is why, for me, my dogs are my pets first and if it turns out that they enjoy agility, obedience, or other performance events, great. If not, they are still my companion.

For me, at this time, the Berners are a perfect fit (well, I could do without all the shedding). They are goofy and make me laugh. They are sweet and sensitive. They are fun. They are easy going, "take things as they come" kind of dogs. They are smart but not in a "I need something to do" sort of way. They are always smiling. They make me smile.

I think the only thing that would make me look to a different breed would be the serious health issues in the breed. They have an unfortunate short life span when compared to other breeds of their size. But, it is hard to resist a face like this.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


These pictures are from a couple days ago, and yes, we still have a lot of snow.  Much of it has melted in the past day or so, but my yard still has a lot.  Although it would be nice to see some green grass again, I don't really mind the mild temperatures and bit of snow that we have been getting.  Compared to the devastating tornados, wildfires and flooding that are happening right now in other parts of North America, I am more than happy to put up with a bit of snow.  Besides that, the dogs love it!!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Children's Festival Demo

Yesterday we had the opportunity to do some dog sport demos at the Children's Festival. Our local kennel club had space at the Festival and invited a group of us to participate. It was a very long day, but it was lots of fun.

Maggie had a very fun day. She got to visit with many, many kids and enjoyed all the hugs and belly rubs. She adores kids and is very gentle with them. Maggie also helped out in the agility demos and the rally obedience demo.

Bosley had a fun day also. He, however, does not enjoy the attention of kids (he thinks they are a bit scary) but he got to demo in scent hurdle racing, agility and carting.

When I was asked to to a carting demo, I wanted to come up with something that was informative, as well as a bit entertaining. Carting is not really a spectator sport - people may say "wow, look at that dog pulling a cart" but to hold attention for a 15-20 minute demo is tough, especially with so many other activities going on. So . . .

. . . I made these:

A giant milk and cheese to pull in the cart.
I made a little skit (thanks to everyone who helped out) and then did some basic carting demonstrations. I think it went well - I had fun anyway :)
Here is our carting demo:

There were many other great demonstrations throughout the day including agility, scenthurdle, obedience, tricks, freestyle and disc. Here is a video montage of the demos that our group did.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dumbbell (the noun, not the adjective)

A few weeks ago, it was suggested to me to use a wooden dumbbell instead of a plastic one, because the wooden ones have less bounce when you throw them. So I checked the usual obedience supply online stores and I ordered a plain wooden dumbbell. Then . . . I found the most beautiful dumbbells I had ever seen. I came across a website where you can order custom dumbbells made out of your choice of some very nice wood. Not your typical dumbbells, that's for sure. I contacted the lady just to ask a couple questions and check out the prices and I couldn't help but order Bosley a fancy, new dumbbell.

Bosley's new dumbbell is made out of Zebra wood and it is shiny and pretty.

If you would like to see more of these beautiful dumbbells made by Tracy Libby (who provides awesome customer service as well as beautiful work) , check out her website:
White Mountain Australian Shepherds

I'm not addicted to buying dog things. Really. I'm not.
. . . well, maybe a little bit . . .
But you can't find dumbbells like this just anywhere. :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Exciting Weekend News !!!

We spent the the weekend at the Red Deer dog show doing some obedience, some scent hurdle racing and lots of hanging out and visiting.

Bosley was entered in 3 obedience trials and after some really awful heeling on Friday, he pulled it all together on Saturday to earn his first Open leg with a High in Class.  I was so excited and relieved to get that first leg - I was beginning to think it may never happen.  Sunday his heeling was off again and he stepped in the broad jump for an NQ.  But . . . his drops were perfect all weekend and his fetching was great too!  I bought a new heavier wooden dumbbell and have been practicing throwing straight - and was happy that all my throws at the show were pretty darn good :)

Bosley with his HIC ribbon.

Hanging out at the show.

Saturday night was our Scent Hurdle team debut.  We were all so excited to get out there and have our first race.  We were ready at the start line . . . the whistle blew . . .  and everything fell apart.  The dogs acted like they had never been trained at all.  Bosley left his lane to go visit a cute Sheltie at the other box, he really liked Kort's dumbbell and kept bringing back Kort's instead of his own.  All of the dogs on the team had trouble of some sort or another.  We were very discouraged after those first couple races.  Everyone on the other teams were very nice though, and the more our team ran (we had 8 races) the better they got.  In the end, all the dogs settled into the racing and we even won a few heats :)  In Bosley's first ever scent hurdle race, he came home with 30 points towards his Scent Hurdle title.  Not too shabby for our first race ever!

Here is a video of our team in action:

I can't not share the video of our team bloopers.  Funny stuff :)

So overall, a very fun and successful weekend.  Can't wait to do it all again :)

Thanks Amanda for the great pictures !!!