Archives for July 2014

Horsing Around

As mentioned in a previous post, our friend Sam is part of the horse racing industry. After meeting her friends Herb and Caroline at Grand River, I was eager to learn more about the horses and what goes on behind the scenes.

Lucky for me, Sam’s friends really liked me, so invited us out to their farm in Milton.

Sam took Kira and I to the farm early Monday morning to help wash, groom and prepare the horses for their daily jog around the track.

Herb and Caroline worried about Kira and I working with some of the more unpredictable horses, so assigned us to work with three they felt were safe.

First we groomed Gem and got her ready for her jog. I brushed her with the softer brush, while Kira worked on her mane and tail and then we both cleaned out her hooves. Then Sam helped us put her gear on, showing me each step so I’d get an idea of how it all worked.

Kira and I with one of the horses we groomed.

It’s not totally the same, but the harness racing gear is sort of like the gear Canyon wears for drafting.

Maybe I’ll see if Sam will explain it all to me so I can post it here sometime.

After Gem was ready, herb took her on to the track.

Next we worked with Love Detective or Lovie. Lovie isn’t as nice as gem in my opinion, she isn’t as streamlined, her hips are really boney and kind of stick out. Sam says the best horses are the ones with big butts, lol!

Lovie is a 3 year old filly. She is a really dark brown bay horse. I really need to ask Kira to describe how each of the horses look again, so that I can explain it better.

She was really patient. She stood calmly while I brushed the dust out of her coat and Kira combed her mane and tail. Then Sam came and we got her ready to take out. Kira really wanted to help Sam jog her, but Sam wasn’t sure how Lovie would be, so asked us to stay in the stable and help Caroline bath Photo Wine or Wine for short.

wine was a 2 or 3 year old gelding. He was going to race that evening, so needed to have a bubble bath.

first Sam wet him down completely with the hose then Kira and I got out sponges to soak Wine with soapy water and wipe down his body. he was perfectly happy to stand and wait for us to finish cleaning him. After he was thoroughly soaped up, we took turns hosing him off. Kira worked on his back end while I did his front and the top of his back since Kira couldn’t reach. At one point herb came over to tell me that I needed to aim a bit lower because I was hitting the horse in the next stall, lol!

While we were all busy working with the horses, Molly, Kira’s 2 year old female French bulldog was running around the stable looking for rats and other critters. At one point she found a toad that was probably half the size of her head. She went to grab it with her mouth and it sprayed her, causing her to foam for several minutes straight. While Molly foamed, Kira grabbed some water for her and Sam took the toad outside where it could find a new place to hang out.

I think I want to bring the golden retrievers to the farm the next time we go. I think Canyon will enjoy wandering around the stable and it will be good for Arizona to learn to interact properly with horses and other people.

After we finished bathing Wine, I stood with my back against one of the stalls. I didn’t know who was inside until Herb told me “your horse is in that stall behind you”. It turns out Gem was in the stall and she kept nuzzling the back of my head and neck and tried to eat my hood a few times, lol! Every time I turned to touch her, she’d back up and then when I turned, she’d return to nuzzle and check me out, lol!

caroline asked Kira and I to groom her again because she had been washed after her jog and needed to be brushed. Both Kira and I love this filly, so were eager to spend more time with her.

I brushed her with the soft brush and Kira combed out her mane and tail. Then Kira asked if it would be okay if she braided Gem’s mane and Caroline said sure. Unfortunately, Kira wasn’t able to finish the braids because lunchtime for the horses came, but she got about half of Gem’s mane done and it felt really neat. It would have been cool to see how her mane looked after the braids were taken out.

Once all of the horses were given their lunch of pellets made by Purina, Sam took Kira and I into the field to visit the brood mares and their foals.

a brood mare checks me out.

A foal checks out Kira.

There were about five mares and 5 foals, most of which were females.

I'm in a field with a number of foals and brood mares.

The foals were about 3 or 4 months old and 3 of them were really interested in us.

I'm surrounded by foals and maybe even a brood mare or two.

We had some foals biting at our clothing and others trying to bite our bums. It was a really neat thing to experience. I had never been around such young horses.

Kira with the foals.

10 Weeks Old

The past week has been full of ups and downs. Maybe it’s primarily due to the fact that I have had migraines almost every moment of the week, so my patience is a bit thin, but it’s definitely been a trying one.

Arizona with her head sticking out the front screen door.

Arizona is learning tons and settling in amazingly well with our gang, but she’s also becoming more determined and opinionated.

rogue continues to play with her and has even started explaining the rules and boundaries – I am SO proud of the Rogue Monster!

Cessna doesn’t know what to do with the puppy and has decided to just keep ignoring her existence.

Canyon tolerates her efforts to play and has even started doing his tug game he used to play with Rogue. He lies on the ground holding a toy in his mouth and Arizona tugs on the toy with all her might. Rogue and Canyon still play this game, so as Rogue became bigger she started pulling him around the house.

Arizona sleeps well some nights, but sleeps horribly the following night, it’s SO frustrating!! I am hoping this pattern will stop sooner than later because the getting up every hour is quite exhausting.

She is sleeping in her crate without the blood-curdling screams though and even takes naps for a couple hours each morning in it, so that’s progress.

On Friday our friend Karen came with her 7 month old puppy, Spark, and our friend kelly came with her two dogs, Piper and Ace. It was a really good experience for Arizona to have the three dogs to interact with.

A view from above of Arizona sleeping under a chair while on a coffee date with a friend.

Spark played with her the most and got a bit rough at times, so Karen would grab his collar and have him relax for a minute before being allowed to return.

Piper took a bit to get used to Arizona’s size. I think a lot of dogs wonder if it’s safe or appropriate to be playing with such a small puppy. After she realized that Arizona wasn’t breakable, they had a blast wrestling and chasing one another. Ace wanted nothing to do with the puppy, but that isn’t too abnormal for the big guy, he is more into wandering the yard or mourning Rogue.

On Saturday, Kelly took Arizona for a few hours. She had a coffee date with a friend, so took Arizona to sit on the patio.

On the learning front, Arizona is doing amazingly well at learning to come when we whistle, so now we need to decide if it is worthwhile teaching her the word ‘come’ or if whistling is good enough for recall. Her work with zen (or ‘leave it’) is coming along. I am starting to say ‘leave it’ as she goes to back off from the treat I have in my palm. Arizona is also doing really well at learning to sit. Our little friend, Kira, has been helping me out with this. I really want to teach Arizona to sit using the capturing method, so I have had Kira clicking whenever she sees Arizona sit. Arizona began to quickly figure out what she was getting the clicks and treats for, so now Kira is starting to say the word ‘sit’ as Arizona’s bum is moving to the floor. I think she’ll be ready to learn a hand signal for sit by the end of the week.

I am going to continue working on zen, sit and come, but I also think I may start trying to capture the ‘down’ and try teaching Arizona to give paw or maybe even paw target. I am eager to teach her to nose target, but my friend Robin has suggested I avoid teaching the nose target until Arizona is understanding ‘leave it’ because she is extremely food motivated and needs to learn a bit of self-control.

Arizona has started to switch over to eating raw. We switched her over to Orijen puppy just over a week ago from Pro Plan, but now it’s time to switch her to eating raw like the others. So far she is just getting a tiny ground beef ball with her breakfast, but probably by the weekend she’ll be eating almost purely raw. Maybe the diet change will also help with the house training.

The house training is a challenge, but I think it’s improving. Arizona is now 10 weeks, so her ability to wait should be increasing. We have reintroduced the box with wood stove pellets, like her breeder used, so I am hoping this will speed up the house training process. The only real issue I am having, that is perplexing, is that Arizona has now decided pooping in her exercise pen is acceptable, but seems to know that she shouldn’t be relieving in her crate.

Puppy rearing can be such an adventure, stay tuned for more updates on Taygold’s Kindred Spirit, who should have really been named Trouble not Arizona.

Magical Gem

Our friend, Sam, has her horse racing and trainer license. She used to race regularly, but now tends to only help friends warm up or care for their horses. Huib works with her and we became really good friends almost immediately.

On Wednesday her friend’s horse, Magical Gem, was racing at Grand River raceway in flora, so her and I took off for the track. When we arrived, we went directly into the stables and I got to meet Gem and meet several of her friends which included a couple jockeys, like Sylvain Filion, that I often hear about when we go to watch horse racing at Mohawk.

It was SO cool! I have always loved horses, so it was really neat to be able to get up close and personal with real race horses and their owners, trainers and drivers.

When it was time for Gem to race, we went out to the benches to watch. gem did well at first, she was in third place until the last quarter. then she broke stride and fell back to fifth or sixth place.

Magical Gem is a two year old copper coloured Bay. She is dappled and has a bit of white (I think) on a couple of her legs, but otherwise I think she’s just copper colour. she was very patient when getting her gear on and she really enjoyed the attention she got from us.

I stand with gem in her stall at Grand River while she waits to go home.

After Gem’s race, we went into the horsemen dining room and ate with Sam’s friends herb and Caroline. they were so interesting to talk to and really nice to me. When dinner was finished they got ready to load gem back into the trailer to go home, so Sam and I took off.

I can’t wait to go to another race with Sam, she does an amazing job at explaining what is happening.

Week One: An Overview

It’s been exactly a week since Arizona joined our family.

Arizona lies on a bed with a cream colour blanket.

She is probably one of the most fearless and entertaining puppies I’ve raised so far.

I think she missed the memo on how baby puppies are supposed to behave because she is definitely not eager to please or a follower, unless of course there’s something in it for her.

Arizona stands with her head between the rails. She's looking down into the living room from the kitchen.

Let’s see, what have we done this week…

On the training front, I’ve started to teach Arizona zen (leave it) and sit, while continuing to proof her recall.

As mentioned earlier, Arizona’s breeder teaches the entire litter recall using a whistle, so Huib and I have been continuing to do this and her response is getting faster and more reliable every day.

Arizona is starting to understand the concept of zen, but I’m not quite at the point where I feel comfortable enough to name it.

As for sit, I am still in the process of capturing it (clicking/treating when she offers it on her own). I taught both Rogue and Canyon to sit by capturing the behaviour and their sits are extremely reliable and well done, so I’d like to do the same with Arizona.

On the hilarious front, Arizona is the youngest daredevil I’ve ever met.

Most puppies won’t even attempt jumping off something high or walking down stairs until they are closer to 16 weeks, but as of the very first day Arizona came home, she’s been running up and down the stairs and launching herself off the couch and bed – which is always a heart-stopper for me!!

Arizona lies on the bed with her head up.

Also, Arizona is a talker. She barks and growls at everything!! She has arguments with the grass and bushes in the yard. She wrestles with the toilet brush and it’s holder. And, she has full out battles with the springy door stops in the house. I really need to try and get some of these on video to show everyone because it’s SO funny!!

The other dogs are slowly warming up to her, but I hope they learn to teach her the rules and boundaries quickly.

Cessna pretty much ignores her completely.

Canyon plays with her a bit. Her favourite game with him right now is to chase him while he plays fetch and then grab his chest hair or ear and tug while making growly noises. Canyon doesn’t seem to be bothered by this game, but does not like it when she tries to take his toy away or cuddle up with him.

Arizona investigates the container that holds all of the extra dog toys while Canyon supervises. Arizona is in a big black storage container that is about half full of dog toys that aren't always out.

Rogue makes me VERY proud. She’s my shy and timid girl, but she’s actually begun to initiate play with Arizona. They bounce around the living room, grabbing one another’s necks and bark and growl at one another. this probably sounds bad, but it’s really not, they are both just really loud players. the only thing I wish Rogue would tell Arizona off for is her constant need to try and nurse from her. Rogue just stands there while Arizona pokes her and begins trying to suck on a nipple…hopefully this stops sooner than later because I feel horrible for the Rogie Monster.

The cats aren’t too sure of the bouncy, barking fur ball. They try and avoid her because if she notices them then she immediately runs over and tries to get them to play.

A few days ago Huib saw Arizona bowing and wagging her tail excitedly while barking at Logan, trying to get her to play, but not understanding that she had absolutely no interest in associating with her. After a while, Arizona gave up and walked away. But, last night, Logan wasn’t so lucky, instead of walking away, Arizona decided to pounce on her and then chase her under the bed, trying really hard to get Logan to play.

On the not so wonderful front, Arizona hates the crate, unless we aren’t in the room then she settles quickly enough and naps until you’re ready to bring her back out. The first night, Arizona screamed for close to an hour, but then settled for a few before waking up to pee and then screamed some more when I put her back in. The second night wasn’t so bad, maybe Arizona was exhausted or something, because she didn’t fuss as long and slept a bit longer than the night before. The next night was worse though, maybe she was gathering up the energy to really give us a taste of how bad she can be…

On Thursday, I talked to my friend and she suggested putting Arizona’s crate up on top of Canyon’s, so she could see us better. We did this and she slept really well. Maybe it also had something to do with the fact that we had taken her to watch Kira’s soccer game and then our friend Karen came to visit with her 7 month old Belgian Shepherd, Spark. Who knows, but we got some of the sleep we desperately needed.

But, then Friday was horrible and so was Saturday, so for now I’ve sort of given up on the crate at night. I’ve just been sleeping down in the living room with Arizona attached to me by a leash. She seems to sleep well and doesn’t really wake me up as often. I think we’ll probably try doing some crate work tonight, but who knows.

It’s been a week of learning, laughing and frustration.

hopefully this coming week will see improvements to her sleeping patterns. If we can get that on track, then the rest should be a little easier to deal with since we won’t be so exhausted.

Are We There Yet?

Huib, Kira, Rogue and I left Ottawa early this morning to go pick up Arizona from her breeder. We decided to grab her and then return to ottawa and pick up Kira’s mom and older sister when we were done.

At about 8:15am we arrived at the breeder’s home and visited with Abba while Anne went to collect Arizona. All, but Arizona and two other puppies are gone to their new homes. Arizona came home with us, a sister is off to Alberta this week sometime and then a brother is off to Northern ontario in a couple of weeks.

Abba was SO adorable! She kept rolling onto her back whenever one of us started to pet her, which really reminded Huib of Aspen.

When Anne came back with Arizona, she put her onto the floor and then Abba began to play with her. Arizona kept wanting to try nursing, so Abba gently pinned her with her mouth and chased her around the living room while we asked some last minute questions.

On our way back to Ottawa, Kira wanted to hold Arizona, so they hung out in the backseat together. Even though Kira tried to comfort her, Arizona whimpered a lot at first and ended up having a small pee on a blanket, but then fell asleep until we reached the hotel, so it’s very possible she was trying to tell us she needed to do something outside of the vehicle.

At the hotel we grabbed a luggage carrying thing and then went upstairs to collect everyone and everything, so we could start the long drive home.

The drive was pretty uneventful. We stopped a few times to let Arizona pee and to relieve ourselves and grab some coffee.

One stop we made had a small petting zoo, so Kira took Arizona near it to let her experience the animals.

Arizona, an 8 week old female golden retriever, looks intently at a brown chicken through the fence.

Once we got home and emptied out the car, we took everyone into the backyard and let them tire one another out. rogue isn’t too sure of the puppy, Cessna wants nothing to do with another puppy and Canyon could care less, he just wants to play, lol! Arizona thinks Canyon is the best though, so I really hope he takes her under his wing and becomes her buddy.

At dinner time I started teaching her about the clicker and she got so excited about food that I think she’s going to be a blast to train.

this evening two really funny things happened. The first was when Arizona did a log roll down our slope in the backyard. Huib said she rolled all the way down and then jumped up at the bottom and ran back to him as if she was ready to try it again. Later she tried running up the stairs with the other dogs and ran into the steps, so had to try several times before getting the hang of it. Now she races Huib up and down them, lol!

Arizona has been a lot of fun so far, so I think it’s going to be great having her, especially once Rogue warms up to her because they are both very similar in energy level.

Introducing Arizona

at about 4:30am we set off with our friend and her two daughters to the Ottawa area.

The taygold breeder was hoping to have us come early so that the other puppy owners could come pick out their puppy after us.

The drive was smooth and it took us just over four hours to get to the breeder’s place in Tay County.

First, we met Abba (dam) and her daughter Denali, who is just over a year of age. Then we met Teak’s (sire) daughter Sitka who is just over two – I loved her!!

The girls were really nice looking and well-mannered. their coats seem slightly shorter than Canyon’s which is funny because his is shorter than Aspen’s was. the taygold dogs are from a field line, so I think that’s why they have shorter coats, sort of like why Rogue’s coat is shorter than Cessna’s.

After spending a few minutes with Abba, Denali and Sitka, we all went into the living room and waited for Anne to bring the puppies in.

After meeting the entire litter and then just the girls and then just the two puppies Anne had originally thought were the most suitable, which we agreed with the assessment, we decided upon the lighter and more energetic one.

Introducing Taygold’s Kindred Spirit or Arizona.

A light gold colour 8 week old female golden retriever is being held by our little friend, Kira.

We chose her because she was the one who was interacting with everyone the most and playing with the various toys Anne put out. At one point, Anne put a kid’s talking Elmo on the floor, and Arizona went over and began dragging him around and helping her siblings do the same – it was SO cute!!!

Especially when Elmo began talking, it sounded as though he was pleading for assistance as the puppies dragged him away, lol!

Arizona plays with Kira's fingers.

Arizona was watching Huib take pictures of her with his iPad, so decided she’d help him get a close-up.

A slightly fuzzy picture of most of Arizona's face.

We will go back to the breeder’s house tomorrow morning and pick Arizona up for good. She is really cute and I think she’ll be a lot of fun.

Puppy News

We got an email this morning from the breeder at Taygold Kennels.

this is what Anne said:

“There are 2 females that I think would be suitable for you. They are both very people oriented, followed well, courageous , showing no fear of noise or sight objects, reacted well to a strange dog, showed good scenting ability, very biddable and willing to work well with people and showed no signs of stress. One is more energetic than the other.”

Looks like there is definitely a puppy for us!!

We will go meet them both on Saturday morning and then leave our girl with Anne and her dam, Abba, until Monday morning.

Since we are driving all the way to Ottawa, we have decided to do some touristy stuff and also give Rogue a chance to work in a new environment.

Stay tuned for some pictures and an introduction of our new addition.

Suzanne Clothier

After finishing Jean Donaldson’s book, I needed something a little softer, so I picked up Bones Would Rain From The Sky by Suzanne Clothier.

In this book, Clothier describes her life with dogs and other animals. She starts out talking about when she was young and wanted to be a dog and then moves on to share some experiences she has had with her own dogs and the dogs of clients. She describes some of the important lessons she learned from the various dogs she has met and shares some stories about times when she felt she wasn’t the best listener or guardian for her dogs.

Even though this book did not give me ideas on how to teach this or that to my dogs, it reminded me that a dog’s life is short and they live in the moment, so to make the most of every second we have together. Clothier’s book taught me to always make sure I had no regrets and that if I did, that I made sure to resolve my guilt and move on because my dogs weren’t going to wait for me to continue kicking myself for things I couldn’t take back. She also reinforced the fact that I am not alone in my mistakes, that even she makes them.

I laughed and even cried in spots while reading this book. I really recommend everyone who shares their life with an animal or even another human check this book out. I think your relationships will only grow stronger after reading it.