Archives for November 2010

My soul Mate

Today Huib and I are celebrating our 10th year of being together. Ten years ago we began dating and although it hasn’t always been perfect, we have defied the odds and are still just as happy together.

We met through a program at the University of Guelph called Safe Walk. I was the coordinator and he was one of the volunteers. I had seen his name on the volunteer list during my first year with the program, but it wasn’t until my second that I actually got a chance to meet him. One evening in October he was volunteering with one of my friends and they came by to say hi and to use my residence phone since he wouldn’t get back to his room until late and he needed to call his mom. After this initial meeting we had a chance to volunteer together a few times and this began our friendship. At the end of the month I had to attend a conference in Ottawa and after calling everyone, Huib offered to attend with me – as long as we could stop by his parent’s place for lunch on our way home. We had a blast in Ottawa, he showed me all the tourist attractions during our free time and we became closer as friends by the end.

All through November we spent our free time together and as he would now admit developed a “unique” friendship that crossed several boundaries. I’m not sure why, but I couldn’t wait until the next time we’d see one another whenever he left, even if it was only for an hour or we’d spent a whole day together doing nothing. Around the end of November I decided to be straight and ask him if he wanted to go out with me. I had been asked about our relationship by friends constantly and got up the courage to ask since he wasn’t really making any clear moves. He told me he thought I was a great friend and saw me as more of a sister than a girlfriend – I was crushed. We still continued to spend all of our time together and it seemed as though nothing had changed, so I was relieved.

On the 24th of November Huib went to Toronto with his roommate to attend the Barenaked Ladies concert and told me he’d be back the following day. He called me when he returned and said it was his roommates birthdays (they are twins) and had to stay for dinner and cake, but would be over later to watch a movie. We watched Far and Away that evening and when it was all over he looked over and kissed me – I was shocked!

Our first year together was a bit rocky, his family didn’t approve of me and gave him an ultimatum – either he break up with me or they would stop paying for his schooling – but we stayed strong and will celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary on February 4th.

Huib is an amazing husband and friend. He is always there for me when I need someone to laugh with or when I need a shoulder to cry on. He will attend girly movies with me without a complaint and help pick out clothes during my shopping excursions. Most remarkable of all though is how he puts up with my more emotional moments and reminds me of all the good things I have accomplished in my life.

I don’t know what I did to deserve such an amazing man, but I am thankful for him and for the love and support he provides every day without a second thought.

In It For The Money

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been considering a new addition to our pack – a female golden retriever puppy. I find that whenever our pack gets comfortable and easy to deal with, I get bored and begin looking for new ways of spicing it up. This is why fostering puppies was good, when the puppy began settling well into our routines and they began to only need refinement – it was recall time and a new one entered the pack. Sadly, because of personal differences (that I still don’t understand) fostering isn’t an option right now so maybe a future breeding female of my own? I’ve been tossing the idea around and seeing what Huib says, but so far he isn’t taking the bait so I guess I’ll have to continue researching and wait until he gives the okay to proceed.

Now that I’ve explained the background to this post, I’ll move onto the point of the title. I’ve been looking at various breeder’s websites and looking at the pedigrees of their stocks and how they portray themselves and what sorts of things they do with their dogs. I’m not interested in a breeder who houses their dogs in a kennel and does nothing with them other than facilitating the mating process and then whelping the puppies. I’m drawn to those breeders who have their stock as a part of the family and who work towards not just confirmation titles, but fun ones like obedience, agility, field work, etc. I want a puppy who wasn’t just the product of a “breed standard” pair, but one that has a “working” lineage (for lack of a better description). Canyon’s dam (LB’s Golden Pot of gold) was more a family pet than a “working” dog and his sire (Kashuba’s Ramblin Blaze N Time) only has his confirmation title, so he’s got the golden personality and looks, but nothing further. That is why I’m determined to work with Canyon at not just attaining his confirmation title, but also an obedience title or more if possible.


Canyon at 4 or 5 months of age

One breeder I’ve found appealing so far is www.quinleighblugoldens.net because their dogs live in the home as part of the family and each of them has attained or is working towards a title other than confirmation. This is the type of breeder I’d like to be someday and hope that Canyon will be my ticket to starting this dream. After looking at their stock’s pedigrees I decided on a specific pair I’d like a puppy from and wrote to a friend for their opinion since they have a vast knowledge on breeding. She pointed out that one downfall of this breeding stock is that none have been line bred and explained that I should be looking for a breeder who has done this.


Aspen with her half sister Moose (same stud)

According to a Google search I learned that line breeding is the breeding of animals who share common ancestors, but are not closely related. For example they may share a common great-grandparent. This type of breeding is used to help “set” or “fix” desireable traits. In addition to breeding related individuals genes from other lines are also being introduced into the mix. This method of “fixing” desireable traits takes longer, but helps to avoid the issues associated with in-breeding.

She suggested a couple of breeders to look at and I quickly decided on one over the other. This breeder www.setherwood.com, has their dogs live with the family and has worked with them to obtain more than just confirmation titles – in addition to their stock being absolutely adoreable of course. I could see myself purchasing one of their puppies in the future.

The other breeder she suggested, has a nice stock, but the second I read through their site I noticed an air of “I’m in it for the money” and this completely turns me off. Their dogs live in a kennel-setting and have mainly just confirmation titles, but they are now working on hunting titles which shows desire to improve. But, litters are listed according to “bitches” and “dogs”, “companion” and “show”, and there doesn’t seem to be that love and connection with the dogs that other breeders I’ve looked at put forth. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe they just have a professional way of designing the website, but I just happened to see a 3-year old dog who had been returned and was looking for a home on the site so wrote to learn more.

My sister is hoping to get a golden of her own so has put her name in with Golden Rescue for a potential match and I’ve also been looking at breeder’s to see if I can find her another “Canyon”. When I received a message back, I was directed to fill out the puppy application. I did this and then received a “you’ve been accepted” e-mail so wrote to ask more questions about the little guy. I learned that he had been returned due to a divorce in the family and was a “reasonable” house guest. It was suggested I come visit with him and that there was an 11 month old who had been recently returned for similar reasons. Before agreeing to visit, I asked about the fee and about whether he had his vaccinations up-to-date and was neutered. They wrote back to say the fee was $1000 plus taxes and that they had a “non-neutering” claus in their contracts, attaching an almost 10 year old paper to the e-mail that had been written about the risks of neutering – hypo-thyroidism and something else that I cannot remember at this time. I wrote back to say I felt $1000 plus taxes was an unreasonable amount to ask for a 3-year old dog who had been returned and that in addition to asking for this astronomical amount they were telling me he could not be neutered – even if we so desired. They simply wrote back to say “I’m sorry you feel this way”. This exchange left me feeling that I am correct with my first impression that they are “in it for the money” and will erase them as a potential place to purchase my next puppy.

I don’t want to support breeders who are “in it for the money”, I don’t agree with this attitude and therefore will not promote it, even if their stock is close to meeting the “breed standards” and come with a 3-year guarantee. I would rather support the “family” operation where the dogs are part of the home and lead a fulfilling life of not just producing puppies, but also working with their “people” to attain various competition titles. I’m not saying this breeder is terrible, it’s just what I’ve observed, experience and feel.

Fable of The Porcupine

I got this in an e-mail from a friend and had to share it – a very good lesson.

It was the coldest winter ever. Many animals died because of the cold. The
porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together. This way they covered and protected themselves; but the quills of each one wounded their
closest companions even though they gave off heat to each other.

After a while, they decided to distance themselves one from the other and they began to die, alone and frozen. So they had to make a choice: either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the earth. Wisely, they decided to
go back to being together. This way they learned to live with the little wounds that were caused by the close relationship with their companion, but the
most important part of it, was the heat that came from the others. This way they were able to survive.

Moral of The Story: The best relationship is not
the one that brings together perfect people, but the best is when each individual learns to live with the imperfections of others and can admire the other
person’s good qualities.

(In other words, learn to live with the pricks in your life.)

Canine Memories

It’s been a couple of months since I last posted a memory, so I thought I’d do one now.

Phoenix – The Class Clown

I got Phoenix about a month before starting my final year of high school. I had worked with a dog guide named Gryphon for a year before him, but due to some unfortunate circumstances, he was retired and became a Special Skills Dog Guide.

Phoenix has always been a friendly dog and attracted people from all around us as we traveled the world together. In my high school he was the only dog and therefore everyone wanted to be our friend. The secretaries had Milkbones at their desks and even some of my teachers had their own stashes. I met a lot of people with him that I wouldn’t have on my own and Phoenix made sure to soak up the attention.

No matter how much attention he got though, Phoenix was always a loyal companion and wonderful guide – but, his stomach ruled his mind. Whenever we passed the administration office I had to go in for him to get his cookie or he’d lie down and refuse to move. Other times I’d be able to convince him to move on, but any time we even went close, he’d start pulling towards the office doors. One day my friend and I went in to sign out for the afternoon and Phoenix was so excited to get his daily cookie that he jumped onto the attendance secretary’s desk. He had all four paws on the desk before anyone knew what was happening!

In addition to his love of food, he had a love of people – not just any people, but the people he knew, my friends. We had free periods of time during our schedule where we had a chance to catch-up on homework, but often we just used them as a time for playing cards or grabbing a snack. Phoenix and I had tons of friends we hung out with on weekends or after school, but during our spares we’d sometimes get together with them and chat or maybe go for a short run in the field. One day when I was walking down to the “meeting” place near the cafeteria Phoenix saw a couple of my friend’s at one of the picnic tables and wanted to say hi. I told him no and asked him to continue on into the lunch room so we could grab some hot chocolate before meeting with another for a run in the yard. Phoenix wasn’t happy with this, so walked me straight into a garbage can to show me how he felt – my friends almost died laughing. Another time we were meeting with a bunch of them to play cards and as we approached the table Phoenix got so excited he leaped right onto it to see one of them who was sitting in the very back corner – she almost fell backwards in surprise!

As you can see, Phoenix made my high school days quite entertaining because you never knew what he had in store.

Dogs Live Here…

I found this on a golden retriever breeder’s website (www.quinleighblugoldens.net) and instantly fell in love, so had to post it.

If you don’t want to be greeted with paws and swinging tails,
don’t come inside – because dogs live here.

If you don’t like the feel of a cold nose or a wet tongue,
Don’t come inside – because dogs live here.

If you don’t want to step over many scattered toys,
Don’t come inside – because dogs live here.

If you think that a home ought to smell like perfume,
Don’t come inside – because dogs live here.

But if you don’t mind all this, you will instantly be loved when you
Do come inside – because dogs live here.

David Lester
Humane Society volunteer

A Little Help With Training

On Monday we headed down to Waterloo for a brief visit. We took all four of the dogs as well as my sister because she wanted to see her friend from school and Phoenix had to go to the vet and have his ear flap drained. Just over a week ago Phoenix’s left ear flap became swollen with blood and it looked as though someone had inserted an egg into it. We had a short phone consult with the vet and were told we could wait until Monday to see her because it wasn’t life threatening and it didn’t seem to be bothering him. After draining the ear, she put it onto his head and bandaged him up so that he won’t be able to shake it and hopefully in a week or so all will be healed. We chose bright orange vet wrap for the bandage and have a roll of purple and teal for when we change it in a day or so. I’ll try and post pictures with this entry at a later date when Huib can hook up our external monitor with the laptop since the monitor is currently cracked and he’s unable to use it.

On Monday evening we went to see a woman named Debby DaCosta in Vanessa for some dog training direction (www.thepoodlefarm.com). I have been trying to follow the training methods I was taught while attending sessions at Dogs In the Park with Cessna, as well as, follow the suggestions on Sue Ailsbey’s clicker training website, but I had run into some road blocks that I couldn’t get around. After talking to a friend who does rally obedience with her former ADS foster puppy (Ace) I contacted Debby. Debby judges rally obedience and has poodles of all sizes who have achieved a wide array of competition titles. We have been in contact over e-mail for the past few weeks and she’s been trying to give me suggestions, but after a 2 hour session with her one-on-one I feel as though I am now ready to work past these road blocks.

Debby uses solely positive training methods and tries to keep her sessions (with her dogs) short and fun. She promotes the use of treats and toys and suggests using your time in the washroom or kitchen for training – taking 10 treats and a dog into the room and focusing on one behavior, like touch, “take it” and “give it”, or teaching tug (for example). She went over how to motivate Canyon to give me what I want and how to work past his more stubborn moments. We had only planned to meet an hour, but 2 hours just flew by and Canyon seemed to be having a blast. It was nice to have Huib and my sister watching so they could hear what Debby told me about not asking for behaviours repetitively but just taking his collar and waiting for him to give it to us, how it was important not to use words like “heel” without taking the time to teach it properly (she said to use his easy walk when we’re not able to take the time to train & just the collar when we’re actually going to take the time) or how it was important to always give him the release word when we were done “work”. At the end she went over how to begin teaching Canyon to heel and how to teach the “front” and “finish” behaviours we’ll need for obedience trials. I have lots to work on now and have already begun our bathroom training sessions 

We’ll be going back to Waterloo for a week on the 26th, but I’m not yet sure if I’ll meet with Debby or continue working on what she’s taught me and meet with her in January. I got an e-mail from her yesterday and was surprised to see her praise of my training abilities and future hopes for Canyon.

I look forward to working with her in the future and think I’ll be able to enter canyon in his first obedience trial real soon – it all depends on the paperwork though…

“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” – Oprah Winfrey

What If

I am currently reading “Remember me?” by Sophie Kinsella and can’t stop wondering – what if this happened to me? This is the first book of hers that I’ve read, but she also wrote the popular book “confessions of A Shopaholic” which I think was recently made into a movie. From what I’ve read, her books tend to have a humorous tone to them and “Remember me?” doesn’t seem to deviate from this trend.

Lexi (the main character) wakes up in the hospital and doesn’t know where she is or what has happened. As far as she can remember, it’s 2004 and she had been out with friends clubbing and remembers falling down some stairs. When the doctors come in to speak with her, she learns that she’s been in a car accident and that it’s the year 2007 – which means she’s lost 3 years of her memory! The book is told in the first person and describes the turmoil she experiences while trying to piece together what she has lost.

I’ve read other books where peple have lost memories or been through traumatic experiences, but for some reason I find myself constantly thinking about this one. What would I do if I lost three years of my life? I know Huib would be by my side the whole time trying to help me through the process, but I also wonder – would I want him to have to deal with this? He’s just such a wonderful man and has never once complained about the things I ask his help with or about me not having a job. Would I want to put this additional burden on him?

I guess I’ll never know the answer unless I’m put into the situation, but this book has sure got me thinking…

Halloween 2010

This year Huib and I decided to carve pumpkins and take the girls in their costumes to help my sister give candy out to kids in town.

Our witch pumpkin

Front view of our paw print & bones pumpkin

Side view of the paw print & bones pumpkin.

Fairy Princess Aspen – thanks Jetta for giving us the dress 

Fairy Princess Cessna – Huib sure made a nice dress 

Three different pictures of our little Fairy Princesses posing together.

Kyo

Today (November 2nd) marks the beginning of Kyo’s (pronounced Keo) new adventure in life. Kyo is an almost 2 year old great dane/black lab cross who was adopted by a friend from the Guelph Humane Society this past April. Kyo was over 25lbs heavier than he should have been and knew absolutely nothing in terms of obedience or proper house manners. Jes worked hard at teaching Kyo his name and all of the basic commands he would need in order to be a wonderful pet.

Kyo is a very large dog (the great dane in him) so needs a lot of exercise and needs a great deal of attention which is something Jess has had a lot of difficulty giving him. He wants to be with “his people” all of the time and finds it hard to share the attention with his guide dog buddies (Glacier & Roscoe). It became quite apparent that Kyo would need to find a new home about a month and a half ago when Kyo’s behavior changed for the worse and he began destroying things out of frustration. After a lot of research and calling several places, Jess learned about PALS, a service dog organization which accepts private donations of dogs to be trained for things such as mobility and autism assistance. After passing his temperament test, Kyo was sent for x-rays and after a few weeks it was learned that he had passed!

Today Kyo will leave Jess and begin a preliminary six weeks of training before a decision will be made as to whether he’ll continue on or be adopted out as a pet. Good luck Kyo, you are a good boy and deserve the opportunity to become someone’s life changing companion!

“Don’t let the fear of striking out hold you back!” – Babe Ruth