Archives for July 2015

Prison Break!!

It was a regular afternoon at the ruled by paws house. I was busy working on school stuff and the dogs were busy catching up on their sleep, or at least I thought they all were…

Arizona likes to go in and out constantly throughout the day, but she also routinely falls asleep around 1:30pm and naps until close to 5:00pm.

I had been letting the dogs in and out all morning, so I settled back to work easily each time they returned. I knew each would let me know when they wanted out and then when they wanted back in, so I wasn’t really paying much attention, I was kind of on autopilot.

Around 2:00pm, I’m not sure why I did it, but I had a feeling something was up, so decided to do a head count. I went to the treat jar and started calling each of the dogs over. Everyone came over, but one…a cute, but devious female golden.

I was a bit nervous. I immediately ran over to the patio door and started whistling and calling her name. Nothing happened. I was becoming a bit more frantic, but I didn’t think it was possible for her to have left the yard.

As I was calling Arizona, Dad came in from outside and asked if all of the dogs were in side. Dad happened to be out in the front having a cigarette, and noticed a golden that looked kind of familiar across the road watching the neighbour’s cat.

I told him Arizona is missing and he ran back outside. He called her name and at first nothing happened. He called again, more firmly and she turned towards him and ran back across the road to the house. Dad said she didn’t even stop to check the traffic, but thankfully the traffic was light and no one had been driving by when she ran across to see the cat or back to him.

I gave her a big hug and some treats when she returned to me. I then texted Huib to let him know what had happened. We decided that for the rest of that day she wouldn’t be allowed outside without Dad to watch her.

We figured out that there was a breech in the fence where the fence meets the neighbour’s fence. Our fence is a white vinyl, but the neighbour’s fence is an older flexible metal, so Huib used some wire to tie our fence to the neighbour’s fence.

It seems to be holding so far, but we’re keeping a closer eye on our little Houdini.

Golden Laundry

Arizona laying in a laundry pile

Not So Hot

Today was Rogue’s second tracking lesson with Laura. It has been quite warm, so we were glad the lesson wasn’t until the evening.

Since Rogue tends to be a bit on the excited side when she first arrives, Laura suggested we go for a short walk around the property before starting. Rogue had a blast running around and checking out various smells. After about 10 minutes of running free, we attached the tracking line to Rogue’s pacific blue Ruffwear harness and took her up to the “scent pad” to begin.

I think Rogue ran too much before starting to track. She was all over the place and at times Laura said it looked as though she was on a walk with Huib instead of following a track.

When Huib and Rogue were finished the first track, Laura had us give Rogue some water and then put her into the car for a short rest. She then got her male lab, Tenner, out of the vehicle and suited him up. She wanted to show us how a more seasoned dog tracks. It was neat to watch him and to see how smoothly he works.

Rogue’s second attempt went better near the end of the track, but she was still not as good as other times. Huib and I are convinced she was too warm and that allowing her to run free beforehand wasn’t a good choice.

Hopefully next week will go better.

On another note, Laura was telling us that she has posted a few messages on the tracking email list she is a member of to see if anyone has any suggestions regarding how things will be handled at a trial if I choose to handle Rogue. She said that a few people have responded and all of them seem to think that I will not be able to trial in tracking with Rogue.

So, guess what? I’m going to prove everyone wrong and from now on, I’m going to handle Rogue at the lessons, not Huib. Laura is totally in favour of having me track, and is eager to help me show the others wrong.

Recall? What Recall?

It has been a couple of weeks, but Arizona has returned to group field classes.

It seems as though the entire group is back, Maverick the Duck Toller, Hank the black lab, Butler the chocolate, and Cassie the yellow lab.

Susie wanted to work with Hank and his owner, so she had us work with Chad (Maverick’s owner) and Laura.

Arizona did well at going to the bumper with the wing, but she forgot to come back. It’s like she’s forgotten what the whistle means, and any other form of recall we have tried to teach her, lol!

Instead of coming, Ari thought she would parade her bumper around Laura and Chad.

Despite trying a number of methods (e.g. with a tracking line on or off), Arizona was just not in the mood to return to me after fetching the bumper.

It was actually kind of embarrassing. I am not really worried about Laura seeing this mess, but Chad seems to be really into perfection and he hasn’t seen Ari work well yet, so it was hard to have him see her lack of recall.

Arizona is still not so sure about picking up a dead duck, so we’re trying to introduce it to her slowly.

Arizona laying in the grass with a dead Mallard in front of her. She's wearing her leash that has various shades paw prints on it.

It seems as though everyone in field uses an E-collar, and both Chad and Laura suggested we try one out, but Huib and I refuse to even consider it. We aren’t in a rush to get titles, so if it takes Arizona another year of lessons before she gets her WC (working certificate) then that is fine with us. We refuse to use a shock collar, even if Arizona is a brat!!

Hopefully next week goes better.

UKC Conformation

The Maple Leaf Kennel Club was having trouble getting enough entries for their UKC conformation show, so we decided to enter Arizona.

The UKC or United Kennel Club, is a more family and fun oriented organization. They offer a lot of the same events as the Canadian Kennel Club, but instead of being focused on just looks at conformation shows, the UKC looks for dogs who not only fit the breed standard, but who can also perform the jobs they were bred to do.

One really neat thing about the UKC is that you cannot use a professional handler and the dog must always be shown or trialled by the owner, breeder or immediate family of either one.

Arizona was entered into two shows on the Saturday, but in hindsight we should have only done one. It was a really hot day and all of the dogs in the show seemed leggy by the afternoon.

Despite the fact that Arizona got last place in her class, we were very proud of her. When the judges had finished judging the group and were taking a break, we went over to ask them what we could have done better.

Both judges said she looks and moves great, and showed very well, but that she was the youngest female golden retriever being shown, so they were not able to give her a better placement. They both said she just needs to grow up, grow into her body. This probably sounds silly, but it makes complete sense to us and we are happy with the outcome.

Rogue came along as well. I should have entered her as an altered, but I didn’t realize they had the altered class. She worked the entire time and did really well. It was neat to see how easily she guided me around the fair ground and ignored the various distractions.

Brooke, Arizona and Rogue standing under some trees. Brooke is wearing a white tank top that has butterflies also in white sort of imprinted into the shirt with blue jeans, a pink hat, black leather sandals and white Oakley sunglasses. Rogue is wearing her red guide harness and Arizona has her green show leash on.

Despite not earning any points or ribbons, at least we now know that Arizona is not a waste of time and that some day she will grow into her body and maybe earn a conformation title or two.

Time for Classes

For the past year Rogue has been taking part in the monthly tracking sessions hosted by Search and Rescue Dogs, Ontario.

While working with Susie in field work with Arizona, she mentioned that she takes tracking lessons with a woman named Laura, who also does field with her labs, Tenner and Cassie. Rogue seems to be stuck in the beginning parts of learning corners, so Huib and I decided it’s time to look into doing more regular sessions. While at field one night, I asked Laura about tracking and after learning that she is a tracking judge, we set up a lesson.

On Friday evening around 6:00pm, we met up with Laura at Susie’s place and did some tracking with Rogue. Since it was her first time seeing Rogue track, Laura set up two different types of tracks and asked us to show her what we have done so far.

Rogue was amazing!! She tracked like a pro. She was a bit excited, so she wasn’t perfect, but Laura thought she could have totally earned her first tracking title with what she showed her.

Laura draws maps and makes comments along the track on the map, so once we are done she is able to show Huib where things need to be improved. She even gave us the map afterwards so that we can keep track of Rogue’s progress.

As long as it doesn’t rain, and we’re all free, we’ll be tracking with Laura Fridays at 6:00pm.

Saratoga Springs: Conference Time

The dinner gathering on Tuesday night was a wash. The organizers really didn’t offer any food, just a few appetizers with drinks. People seemed to know one another, so it was a bit awkward for Huib and I. We stayed for a couple of drinks and then left to order pizza in our hotel room with Rogue and Canyon.

Brooke and Rogue standing in front of a metal statue. The statue is a memorial for people lost in the 9/11 attacks. Brooke is wearing a fancy white tank top that has silver trim with blue jeans, a white hat, black Oakley sunglasses and black leather sandals. Rogue is wearing her red guide harness.

Wednesday morning we had a bit of breakfast and then I went to the keynote by John Bradshaw, while Huib returned to the room to watch Dirty Jobs with Canyon.

The keynote was good. Bradshaw talked about anthropomorphism and how it can be both good and bad. I didn’t really agree with his belief that dogs lack higher levels of intelligence and the ability to feel some of the complex emotions, but overall I really enjoyed his talk. After he had finished, the floor was opened for questions. The most interesting question asked was by a woman who used to be a nurse in a hospice. She wanted to know how Bradshaw can explain the reaction dogs have to dying patients if he believes they do not possess higher levels of intelligence and feeling. I totally see what she was saying and I didn’t feel Bradshaw answered her question. I wish I had taken good notes, so I could actually explain what he was saying and how her question related, but of course I am a horrible notetaker.

When the keynote was over, Huib came back to go with Rogue and I into the ball room where the posters were set up. The people who had posters were asked to stay by their poster for an hour each day of the conference to answer any questions.

I had a number of people come by. I’m not really sure why, but people really seemed interested in my project. I had a couple of people comment that my poster had too much writing, but otherwise I had a lot of compliments and questions regarding my research findings. Even though I am still in the beginning stages of my project, I was able to answer most questions and I don’t really think anyone noticed that I haven’t really started my research, lol!

The morning sessions weren’t overly interesting to me, but I did like the presentation on veterans and service dogs. The research seemed to tie in well with the research paper my thesis supervisor wrote last year for Veterans Affairs on the benefit of service dogs for veterans.

Lunch was good, not only did I get some pizza, but they also had some good salads.

In the afternoon there were several different presentations relating to service dogs. A woman from the UK did a research project looking at the psychological benefits of guide dogs to their blind handlers. It was interesting to listen to her findings because one of the conclusions I made in my short literature review was that there is a lot of research looking at the benefits of therapy dogs and companion dogs, but no real studies looking at the psychological benefits of service dogs. There was also an interesting study looking at the activity level of blind people with service dogs compared to blind people without dogs. She found that guide dog users tend to be more active than blind individuals without a dog.

Canyon lying in front of a black horse statue that is decorated in beverage containers.

I can’t really remember what the second afternoon session was about, so it probably wasn’t overly interesting.

Dinner was at a local restaurant. It was pretty fancy stuff. We had steak with mashed potatoes and grilled veggies. They also served some good salad and tasty bread. We could have also had dessert, but we wanted to get back to Canyon and we both weren’t overly hungry anymore, so we passed on the desserts.

On the final day of the conference we had to leave the room by noon, so I only went to the morning sessions. There was a keynote on zoos that was quite interesting. Did you know that giraffes are quickly nearing endangered species status? Did you know that there is no real value in conserving the Giant Panda? I didn’t know either.

There were a variety of presentations in the morning session. There was an interesting presentation by Hal Herzog, on the problems with studies looking at the value of animal-assisted therapies. He argues that most studies do not actually prove anything because often they are too small sample-wise and lack controls.

The next couple presentations were on activity dog programs at a couple of different universities and a rehabilitation centre in Switzerland. I really liked the prevention by Sandra Barker, evaluating the program her university runs. Not only do they have dogs, but they also have cats, rabbits and a chicken. Could you imagine? A therapy chicken?

Other than finding it hard to stay in a down during the afternoon sessions on Wednesday, Rogue did quite well. I got a lot of compliments on her work and about how quiet she is. I do need to work on her staying in a down for longer periods of time, but in her defence, Wednesday was a pretty long day and she did well until the last few presentations.

Once Huib and Canyon had loaded the car, Huib came to get Rogue and I. We then set off to visit Cyndy and Uschi from the blog, Gentle Wit.

It was a pretty short visit, but a good one. Such really liked playing with Canyon. We spent most of the time just hanging out at their house, letting Uschi and Canyon play with the tennis balls Cyndy brought out and spread around the living room. Rogue isn’t an overly social dog with other dogs, so she spent most of the visit hiding on the couch or trying to walk along the back of the couch to see where Huib had gone. Other than watching the dogs play and talking, we went to pick up food at the Cheesecake Factory and had breakfast at a yummy little diner before leaving for home.

I have been sending packages to Cyndy’s place for months, so we also picked a lot of stuff up during our visit. We got Swamp Cooler vests for the goldens from Ruffwear, a bright pink front attach harness and pacific blue front attach harness from Ruffwear for Arizona and rogue, some JW chew toys for Ari, some new black leather leashes for a couple of friends and for the labs along with matching black leather martingales for Rogue and Cessna. I also finally got my new purple iPhone case and Huib got a black one for his phone. Oh, and I also got Cessna’s new supplement I’m trying out with her that is made from the shell membrane of eggs. This new supplement is supposed to be better than Glucosamine, so even though Cessna isn’t showing any arthritis yet, she is making some clicking noises when she walks up stairs, so I’m hoping this new supplement will help her out.

When we got back to my friend’s place to pick up Cessna and Arizona, Ari told Huib how much she disliked the fact that we had left her for so long. She was extremely vocal about it and held onto Huib’s arm for along time, taking him from place to place in the yard, lol! My friend said both girls were great and Ari had a good time playing with her daughter’s foster puppy, Sully. When she dropped Sully off at her daughter’s place, he didn’t even greet Kelsey, he just went over and laid on his bed, lol!

Saratoga Springs: Arrival

The International Society for Anthrozoology’s
conference has arrived.

We dropped Cessna and Arizona off in Oakville to stay with a friend last night, and set out early this morning.

Canyon and Rogue were great travelling buddies. Other than wanting to pee, some water and a few treats when we stopped for a quick lunch, they slept the entire drive.

When we arrived at the hotel, we left Canyon in the vehicle and took Rogue to checkin. After we got our keys we walked down to the room and I stayed with Rogue while Huib went out to park and grab the stuff with Canyon.

While Huib was gone, Rogue thought she had better test the sleeping accommodations.

Rogue stretched out on a king-sized bed with a white comforter

Once we were settled and unpacked some, Huib, Rogue and I went down to register for the conference.

We brought a canvas crate for Canyon to hang out in while we are at the conference, but he isn’t happy about the decision, so let us know by barking while we walked down the hall. Huib ran back to the room and let him out, which seemed to settle him. He was happily waiting for us in the room when we returned a few minutes after registering.

So that he’ll hopefully be happier while we are at dinner, Huib took Canyon for a short walk around the neighbourhood.

Here’s a picture of Canyon at High Rock Park.

Canyon standing under an old wooden shelter that covers a spring

While I write this the dogs are napping and Huib is checking his work email. Hopefully the rest of this evening goes as smoothly.