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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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.