Away Awhile

Boy, it’s been a while since I last blogged.

The tracking and field seasons have started.

In field, Arizona has finally, possibly, overcome the water issue that has been plaguing us for more than two years!!! We have been training for about four weeks now, and she has not refused to enter once – Good Girl!!!

In addition to our usual Tuesday classes, we have started taking Ari to Sunday sessions in Wyebridge. We can’t do it every week, as Huib sometimes needs to work, but we try to go as often as possible. I think it might be helping her, as she’s working around different people and a variety of dogs.

This weekend, we have entered two junior hunt tests. I would love to finish her title, but I’d be satisfied with even just one good quality pass.

If Ari continues to work well in the water, I would really like to have her do her WC (working certificate) in the US, as well as earn her WCI (working certificate, intermediate) here in Canada.

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On the tracking side of things.

All three dogs are facing challenges, but they still seem to enjoy themselves and don’t give up.

With Rogue, we are going to take a step back, and try tightening up her searching and get her to be more persuasive when she knows she’s right. At times, Rogue goes back and forth in a very wide pattern across the track, making it easy for her to miss an article or possibly even a turn. In addition, at times, she is not a confident dog, so I need to work on this. I need her to feel confident enough in tracking, that when she feels she knows we are going one way, versus another, then she needs to put a good amount of pressure on the line, so know what she is telling me. Sometimes, when she is not completely sure, her indications will be difficult for me to read, so I need this to change. Since we will not be entering any tests until the fall, Laura is going to work with us to fill in these gaps we’ve found.

With Arizona. Now that she has her TD, we are introducing hard surface and other urban features. So far, she is doing well, but finds contamination difficult to work with.

Finally, with Canyon. Huib is seeing improvement, but he is still a bit frantic or overly excited. With lots of practice and repetition, I think he’ll be ready to enter a test in the fall.

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Usually in the spring we stop obedience classes, but this year we have decided to continue. Ari is doing well. We are working on fronts, stands and automatic sits when I halt. Her stays are great, and her heeling on leash is coming along. I think our obedience work will help us in the next levels of hunt and field, as she will need to start working off leash when coming to line and honouring while the next dog does their first retrieve.

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On the breeding front. It sadly appears as though the breeding did not take. 🙁

We did an ultrasound on day 30, and the vet did not see any puppies. Ari seems to show some signs of possible pregnancy, but not enough to be able to say yes or no.

We are leaning towards no though.

We will retry in early December, when Ari comes in heat again. If that breeding is successful, her puppies will be born on, or near, our 13th wedding anniversary, which I think is pretty cool!!!

Stay tuned.

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On the personal fitness front.

I had to buy new jeans a month ago, as mine are getting to be way too big. I am now wearing a size 10-12 in jeans, which is pretty darn exciting!!!

I haven’t been swimming too often over the past couple of months, but I have been walking lots and running when I can get out with my guide. Now that the Cessna stress has calmed down for the time being, I hope to return to regular swimming.

To keep Ari fit for future puppies, we have been taking her for brisk walks that tend to be over five kilometres long. She usually goes biking that distance, but since we weren’t sure if she was pregnant, we didn’t want to have her biking.

I entered a 5k race for June 24th, and I am still considering one on the 21st. I just need to get in some more runs, or I don’t think I’ll be ready to run an entire race…

The temperatures are getting warmer, so my body needs to adjust to that as well.

Before I go, here’s a quick update on Cessna and Canyon.

In my last post, I told everyone about how Cessna’s having some health issues. We have chosen to go with palliative care, as opposed to trying to fix things.

Cessna has been taking 100mg of Gabapentin twice a day, along with Metacam in the morning. She also gets her thyroid medication twice a day and a hormone every few days for her incontinence. We had hoped to only use the hormone once a week, but she seems to need it every three days. For her UTI, we have been giving her colloidal silver three times a day. We will be taking in a urine sample tomorrow, to see if the infection has cleared after three weeks of taking the CS.

Cessna has good days and not so good ones. On her good days, Dad takes her for short walks in the park, where she likes to sniff and run around a bit. On her not-so-good days, we keep her safe and comfortable. For now, her bad days aren’t too bad, they just aren’t ones where she should be going to the park. On the bad days, her hind end gives out more and she is more wobbly on her feet.

As for Canyon and his seizures. He has not had one since April 12th, so we have kept him on the same dose of CBD oil, 6.6mg twice a day. This weekend will be a bit of a test, as we need to leave him home with Rogue, while we take Arizona to her hunt tests. Canyon often gets anxious when we are gone for long periods of time, but we’re hoping the CBD will keep the seizures at bay.

I hope everyone is having a great spring. I will try and write more, especially since we’re getting busier with training.

Cessna Concerns & Other Crew News

An update on the members of the ruled by paws crew.

On October 30, Cessna turned 14. Over the past six months or so, she has begun to have hind end weakness and gastro issues. Added to all of this, her fur has become extra patchy and quite thin in spots. Despite all of this, Cessna’s mood has been good, and her activity level has been pretty high, considering her age.

Saturday, we took her to the vet, for an exam, and for a refill on her thyroid medication. A few days before the appointment, Cessna started to look as though she was declining. She was more unstable on her feet and her gastro issues were happening every day. Not sure what to do, Huib and I decided to stop all meds and supplements that were not completely necessary, such as her incontinence medication and golden paste. The incontinence med is known to cause diarrhea and the turmeric paste contains olive oil and appears to have stopped helping. We also switched her from a raw diet to canned Merrick food and steamed/mashed sweet potatoes. For months, we have wondered if the raw food is becoming too rich for her gaining system. We have played around with it, even moving to a pre-made raw, but nothing worked.

When Bianca came into the exam room, she was surprised by how much weight Cessna lost (she’s now about 51 lbs.) and with how thin her coat has become. We explained what has been happening, and described the changes we have been making over the past several months. Bianca suggested we do a blood test to check her levels in a variety of areas, as well as to have a urinalysis done. Huib set up an appointment for the blood draw to be done on Tuesday, as she did not have her thyroid meds early enough for the draw to be done at the exam. She also felt Cessna looked to be having some pain, so prescribed her 100mg of Gabapentin twice a day.

It has now been six days since her appointment, and Cessna seems to be improving. We aren’t sure if it’s because she is actually getting nutrient from her food, as she has not had problems in over a week, or if it’s the Gabapentin. She is moving around better, a lot less wobbly, and she continues to be interested in taking part in household activities. Since she isn’t taking her incontinence medication, she is having some leakage issues, but we just give her a quick wash and change the blanket or bed cover. We are still waiting to hear about the blood test results.

We are prepared for it to be bad news, but as long as Cessna is comfortable, we’re okay with where she is at. She will be 14.5 on the 30th, so we are not going to take any drastic measures to extend her life – it’s not fair to her. We are just going to enjoy the time we have left together. If the news is good, then that’s even better!!!

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I didn’t have an opportunity to post this last week, so we have the results of Cessna’s blood test and urinalysis. Among other values that are off, which can be explained by her gastro issues, Cessna has a very high cortisol level. Bianca said it is sort of like she is on steroids, but actually isn’t. She is concerned that Cessna may have Cushing’s Disease, so scheduled an ultrasound for this morning. Added to this, it looks like she may have a urinary tract infection, so once we have a better idea of what is going on, Bianca will probably prescribe antibiotics.

At 8:00am, we took Cessna to have her ultrasound. Bianca has an internal medicine specialist come in to do the ultrasounds, so we were hopeful he would give us an idea of what might be going on. After the ultrasound, Bianca’s tech brought Cessna back to us and said the vet would like to talk to us before we left. Huib was worried that something was seen on the scan, as it didn’t take them too long.

The good news, and not-so-good news, is that they did not see any problems on the scan. The doctor even took a look at her heart, which they said looks good. Bianca said we can’t totally rule out Cushing’s unless we do some more extensive testing, but given her age, we’re all in agreement that it’s better to just go the palliative care route, treating the symptoms. Once Bianca gets the report from the ultrasound, she’ll give me a call tomorrow to let me know what our next steps will be.

Before we left, she mentioned possibly putting Cess on Metacam with the Gabapentin (for pain), a low dose of estrogen (for her incontinence), and maybe an antibiotic for the UTI. Her concern regarding the antibiotic, is that Cessna had the runs last night, and cannot really afford to lose anymore weight, so she worries that antibiotics will further irritate her gut. I did some research last night on more natural UTI treatments, and learned that colloidal silver can be used. I am going to mention this possibility to Bianca tomorrow. Finally, she suggested we consider trying acupuncture with Cessna, as it is supposed to be a good treatment for pain, as well as in overall body wellness. The clinic’s current practitioner is leaving after next week, so we are going to wait until their new person starts in May.

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In puppy news. We are on day 18 from ovulation, assuming the AI was successful. We have scheduled an ultrasound for Arizona on May 5, so we can find out if she is pregnant. In the meantime, we’re just making sure she doesn’t over-exert herself, so no biking, and we’re feeding her a balanced diet with the appropriate supplements.

Even though Ari might be carrying embryos (at the moment), we’ve continued her tracking, field and obedience training. We want to make sure she stays fit, so we’ve also begun taking her for long walks (at least 5k) every other day, in place of her usual biking exercise.

I will continue to post puppy reports from time-to-time.

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Rogue and Canyon are both good.

Canyon continues to take 6.6mg of CBD twice a day. He had a mild seizure on April 12 – which means he made it 11 weeks without. 🙂

We decided not to increase his CBD at this time, since there were some factors which may have contributed to the seizure. For instance, Arizona was in heat and our weather was extremely unstable – including an upcoming ice storm. Hopefully he can go another long period without.

I’ve got nothing real special to report on about Rogue. She ran with me and my guide runner, S, yesterday evening. It has been a while since she was out running, as I did the race and then life got in the way of my training. We had some gorgeous weather over the weekend, so S and I made sure to find some time for a walk/run.

I used Rogue’s new running leash with her, and it worked nicely. She was a bit excited at first, so I had to keep her close, but after a bit, she figured it out.

S wrenched her knee Saturday, so she wasn’t sure how the run would go, so we decided to do a brisk walk for the first 1.5k. It also gave me a chance to stretch out my legs, since I hadn’t run in a while. We then picked up the pace, doing a light jog and brisk walk combination for the rest of our route. In total, we did 4.8k. We are going to try and get together again near the end of the week or over the weekend.

S has said she would like to do both of the runs I’m considering in June. The Solstice 5k is on June 21, in London, and then the Big Little Run is on the 24, at Guelph Lake. So far, I’ve registered for the Guelph Lake one, but will probably enter the Solstice 5k soon.

Until next time, enjoy the beautiful spring weather.

Date with a Michigan Stud ;)

An update for our blog readers who do not follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

We took Arizona to Michigan over the weekend for breeding. This is the first time we have ever gone through the process, so we really didn’t know what to expect.

Arizona was a rock star!!!

Usually, Ari isn’t a fan of dogs trying to mount her, so we really didn’t know what was going to happen. I guess nature took over and since she was ‘ready,’ she was completely receptive to Cutter’s attention. Unfortunately, the poor guy had some performance anxiety, so after a couple attempts, we decided to go with AI (artificial insemination).

Cutter’s owner’s friend is a lab breeder, who frequently uses AI, so she was able to help us out. I think it was probably easier for both dogs to have the procedure done in a home setting, as opposed to in a vet office.

The first AI was done on Saturday afternoon, while the other was done Sunday evening. Arizona was a bit fidgety on the Saturday, but really didn’t seem to mind the procedure on Sunday. I wonder if it’s because she knew what to expect…

We got to spend a lot of time with Cutter and the other two dogs who live with him. They are all well-mannered and behaved dogs. I loved the individual personalities of each of them. Cutter is a lot like Arizona, so it is going to be really interesting to watch their puppies grow up.

Here is a picture of Cutter and I.

Michigan was expecting snow Monday morning, so we decided to head home a couple hours after the procedure. We thought it was better to get home and relax Monday, instead of rushing home and then Huib having to return to work Tuesday without any real relaxation.

If all goes well, Arizona should have puppies around June 8th, I think.

We will have an ultrasound done around day 30, so we know what to expect. It will probably not give us an exact idea of puppy numbers, but it will at least let us know whether or not to prepare for their arrival.

This is an exciting and nerve-racking adventure. I will keep everyone posted on what happens.

Arizona, Race Results and Other News

It’s been a bit since my last post.

On the breeding front. We are still waiting for Arizona to come in heat.

We thought she had started, but when we went to the repro vet on Saturday, we learned that she was pre-spotting – OOPS!!! I guess we learned something new. We had thought it was strange that she wasn’t swelling or bleeding as much, but thought maybe we were just not remembering how it all went.

It’s something she has never done, and the smear had some white blood cells in it, so the vet put Ari on 2-weeks of antibiotics – just to make sure nothing develops.

At least the appointment wasn’t a total waste of time. Arizona did get her brucellosis test done. I got a call yesterday to say the results were negative. 🙂

This morning Huib found some fresh blood on our bed, so maybe now she’s really started…?

We’re going to wait a couple of days, then make an appointment with the repro vet, if the blood continues. Breeding is definitely not a stress-free adventure!!!

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Now, for an update on running and swimming.

I have been able to regularly swim 1000 metres, which is VERY exciting!!!

Over the past week, I’ve been doing a mixture of short treadmill workouts and outdoor runs. I had to keep my muscles loose, while not pushing myself too hard.

On Sunday, I ran my first race of the year, and second race ever!!! It was the Around the Bay 5k.

Once D and I met up, we headed over to the start line. We were a bit early, so decided to warm-up a bit – jogging down to the 30k start line and then back. When the race started, we began with a jog/walk interval. My calve muscles were slightly sore the first 1.5k, so we didn’t want to push things too fast. It’s quite normal for my calve muscles to hurt when I start running, so I wasn’t too worried. At about the two kilometre mark, D and I picked up the pace.

Every once in a while, D checked her watch to see how we were doing, and for the most part, we were staying on pace to finish the race in 40 minutes. Our official time was, 41.07!!!

Here’s a picture Huib took of D and I running towards the finish line.

I was really happy with this result!!! I hope to do another 5k in late June. 🙂

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Miscellaneous news.

Canyon is still taking 0.4ml (or 6.6mg) of his CBD oil. So far so good. It has been about 62 days since his last seizure.

I don’t expect him never to have another seizure, but if we can get him down to having just a few a year, then I will be happy.

Rogue has been running with me and my guide runners about twice a week. She has become really good about staying close to my left side.

I currently use an over-the-shoulder leash with her, but I ordered a leash for running on Amazon. The lead is stretchy, so it should be easier for her to run with her leisure harness, and not have it shift as much. Huib added some padding to the girth strap on her harness, which also seems to be reducing the rubbing on her armpits. Before he added the padding, she got a couple strap burns – my poor girl!!!

I think she is really enjoying the runs, so I hope to continue with my new guides over the summer.

The temperatures have been a bit warmer over the past week, so Huib and the goldens have started biking. It was adorable to see how excited Arizona got when I put her reflective vest on. She was totally calm when the harness and light-up collar went on, but as soon as the vest was done up, she started bouncing around, lol!!!

It’s been a few months since they last went biking, so Huib has been taking it slow. The first trip out was about 2km for Canyon and closer to 3 for Ari.

They have gone out three times now, so Canyon is up to 3km and Ari is around 5, but moving quicker. Huib hopes to take them out a couple times this week, especially with the temperatures continuing to climb.

For Christmas, the goldens each got a light-up collar. Canyon’s is blue, while Arizona’s is pink. Huib says they work really well, so along with their reflective vests, I think they are going to be safe.

Cessna is almost 14.5 years old. She still appears to be enjoying life, but we are noticing an increase in hind end weakness. 🙁

To try and keep her safe, we’ve been closing our bedroom door, so she won’t be as tempted to walk up the stairs without us. We’ve also been keeping the gate closed at the top of the living room stairs. Despite this, every once in a while Cessna decides to go upstairs, or gets past us, and runs down or jumps down the last few steps. Sometimes, sadly not too often, she stays upright, but frequently she ends up sliding across the tile on her side or chest, as her back legs give out. 🙁

It’s tough to watch her age, especially since her mind doesn’t seem to be aging at the same rate. Cessna still thinks she’s young, and forgets to be careful.

I think that’s most of our updates from here. Until next time, try to enjoy the spring weather.

A Mix of Human and Canine

What’s new here? I’ve got a mix of stuff to mention, both human and canine.

You would think I’d learn to stay away from nuts, after my horrible gastrointestinal experience before Christmas, but I guess I’m a slow learner. Back in November or December, Huib and I made a trail mix of: almonds, cashews, peanuts, Craisins, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and peanut M & M’s. After eating almost half a large container over a few days, my system revolted. I honestly felt like I was dying from the inside out. After almost a week of problems, slowly improving as it went, I felt better.

I decided to stay away from the trail mix for a few weeks.

I then got out a tiny snack container and filled it with the mix, thinking it would be okay if I had just a tiny bit throughout the day. I did this about three times, leaving a day between, before my system said “STOP!!!”

You would think I’d learn, right?

Well, I didn’t…

I kind of forgot about the trail mix for a while. but remembered it a couple weeks ago. With my past gastrointestinal problems in mind, I thought I’d try just having a small amount, ignoring the seeds all-together. I had probably five cashews, a couple almonds and about seven peanut M & M’s. I thought it would be okay, but I was sadly mistaken!!!

On Monday, the second day of my system issues, I felt blah most of the day, but finally began to improve around late afternoon. Thinking it had been a while since I worked out, I decided to do a 30 minute treadmill walk at 3.5. My calf muscles were a little unhappy, but overall, it went well. At 9pm, Huib and I decided to head to the pool for a swim. I did 1000 m.

On Tuesday, M and I met for a run at 8:30am. We measured our final 2.2k loop using MapMyRun, and we did about a kilometre every 10 minutes. This is about the same pace as I was running last May, so I’m not too upset with the time.

At 2:00pm, we took Arizona to a new vet for a repro consult. Dr. Jones is a great dane breeder, who also feeds a prey model raw diet, so in addition to talking about what gets need to be done before breeding, we were able to discuss Ari’s diet. Other than adding 1mg of folic acid, just for prevention, she said to keep everything else the same. 🙂

Dr. Jones examined Ari and said she looks to be close to starting her heat cycle. This is about when we were guessing it would begin, so looks like she is on schedule. Once it starts, we’ll count to day seven and then take her in for her first progesterone and a brucellosis test.

Slowly, we are getting people on our waiting list, so it’s beginning to feel seriously real.

Huib signed me up for the Around the Bay 5k race on March 25th. With the iffy weather over the past couple months, I haven’t gotten as far as I had wanted, but I still think the race will go better than my Ottawa 10k last May. I have just under three weeks until the race, so I am going to work hard, and see if maybe I can get a time closer to eight minutes a kilometre. Even if I need to walk from time-to-time, I would like the majority of the route to be done at a run/jog.

*** My fingers are crossed for more favourable weather until at least the day after the race, so i can get some good outdoor training in. ***

On Friday, d and I got together at 4:30pm for a run. We walked to the trail and then across the street to the second part (about a half kilometre) before beginning a slow warm-up jog. He is trying to help me learn how to warm-up at a faster pace than just a brisk walk.

Once we crossed the third set of railway tracks, which meant we were on the third section of the trail, I turned on MapMyRun.

We tried to keep running the same distance, at a consistent pace, and then briskly walk for no more than 45 seconds. According to the app, we did about 3.2k in 28 minutes, with each kilometre taking around 8.5 minutes.

If I can brush off that 30 seconds and run at a consistent pace throughout the race on March 25th, then I will be extremely happy with my performance.

Yesterday, I did a 58 minute treadmill workout that focused on inclines. I did a five minute warm-up at 3.1, and was feeling good, so turned the speed up to 3.5, thinking I’d be able to do the inclines there.

I was a little to eager…

By the end of five minutes at incline level two, my calf muscles were very sore, so after five minutes at the usual incline (level one), I turned the pace down to 3.3.

My workout went, level 1, 2, 1, 3, 1, 4, 1, 3, 1, 2.

My calf muscles were feeling fine after I got through incline four, so I turned the speed back up to 3.5 and finished the rest of it. I completed the workout with a three minute cool down at 3.0.

At 9pm, Huib and I went to Victoria Road for our usual swim. The clock at the pool wasn’t working, so we weren’t able to time my first 500 m.

It was busy for most of our time in the pool, so I was sadly not able to work on rolling to the side to breathe. I am still stopping and raising my head to breathe, which often makes me turn and also makes me lose momentum. I did work on my push-offs from the wall, Huib showed me how to better hold my arms/hands, so I become more aerodynamic.

In total, I did 1050 metres!!! My arms were a bit sore the first 200, but after that, I felt good. I think I could have probably done another 100 or so, but we ran out of time.

Today, M and I ran at 8:30am. We did our usual route with Rogue, encountering only one other dog near the end. Usually, we see at least a few. The woman asked if my dog was friendly, and I said “yes,” but kept Rogue’s attention on me, just in case the other dog was not. When the woman saw me using a treat to keep her attention, she said “oh, you’re training her.” I guess she thought I was using the treat to train, and didn’t realize I was using it to keep her face close to my side, and out of the reach of the other dog. After we were far enough away, M said she thinks it might have been the dog who barked in Rogue’s face a few weeks ago, lol!!!

Rogue wears a casual harness and, right now a winter coat, not her working harness, when we’re running, so people can’t tell she’s a service dog – which is part of why I’m so cautious about what dogs say hello.

Our route is about 4.5 kilometres, which usually take about an hour. Today, we made it back to the bus terminal within an hour, making it to an earlier bus than usual, so we’re guessing our run was faster. It was really windy, especially on the second half of each loop, so I felt as though I might have been slower, but I guess I was wrong.

My legs and calves felt good today, but with the wind, I had more trouble catching my breath between runs. I’m hoping that I will some day figure out how to more effectively breathe while running.

About a month ago, we started Cessna and Canyon on cannabis oil from a place called Farmacy in Victoria, BC. Cessna is taking it for arthritis, while Canyon is using it for his epilepsy. I have slowly raised their dose, and they have been taking about 0.2ml twice a day, which for their bottle equals about 6.6mg of CBD twice a day. We had two bad weather weeks, and even though Canyon tends to have seizures during such weeks, he made it through without one!!! Maybe it was a fluke, but it’s been over a month since his last, so the weather issues would have normally caused him to have a seizure, especially with him being so close to his usual schedule. I will keep updating everyone from time-to-time on how it’s going.

It’s been a week since Arizona’s repro vet consult, and still no heat cycle, so I’m guessing it’ll start any day now. It’s when you want it to start, that they take their time, lol!!!

Weather, Ice and Puppy News

It was a good week. Despite the cold temperatures, and unstable weather causing migraines, I got in most of my runs.

On Monday evening, Huib and i went to Victoria Road for their 9pm fitness swim. It wasn’t too busy, but Huib and I both felt slow and blah, so we took it easy. I got in 850 metres and did it in a relatively good amount of time.

Tuesday, M and I got together at 4:30pm at the bus terminal. The sidewalks downtown were not very well cleared, so we took our time walking over to the trail. At the trail, we ran into a bit of snow an dice problems, so we took it easy, running just 30 seconds at a time. About halfway through our route, we saw a number of runners wearing Yak Tracks, so I decided to try mine out. They worked well. I felt more comfortable running on the trail, even when we hit snow and ice.

Unfortunately, running with the Yak Tracks created some muscle discomfort. Not only did my left ankle hurt where I originally injured it, but my calf muscles and my right ankle in the same spot were uncomfortable. As a result, I am hoping to avoid using them again. My calves and right ankle felt better after 24-hours, but it took my left ankle a full week to improve. 🙁

On Wednesday, D and I did our usual 5.2 kilometre route. We want to try and keep track of our pace and where we improve, so I turned on MapMyRun as soon as we got onto the trail.

Sadly, the first 1.5 to 2 kilometres of the trail were covered in chunks of ice and snow, so we had to walk it. We did have a chance to run on the last 3k, so we did it three times. According to the app, we worked at a pace of 10 minutes per kilometre, which isn’t totally accurate with all of the walking we were forced to do, but it’s still an improvement from last year, when I was actually running at that pace on a regular basis.

To get a better measurement, D and I will start turning the app on when we can start running, and then turn it off when we stop.

I am planning to register for the 5k race at Around the Bay in late-March. D, my guide runner from before, has agreed to do the race with me. 🙂

We did not have obedience class on Thursday evening, so Arizona and I worked on things at home. She is really improving.

The temperatures began to rise on Tuesday, and went up to about 5 degrees on Thursday, creating a lot of thawing. Thursday evening, the temperatures started to fall, to the point where stuff began to re-freeze.

Friday, the temperature was about -10 when D and I got together downtown for our run. It was the first time Rogue joined us.

Walking to the bus stop by our house, poor Rogue was being careful, but the sidewalks were covered in smooth, clear, extremely slippery ice. About a metre from our driveway, we both fell on our butts, lol!!! Once we got up, she was even more cautious, as we made our way to the stop.

D met us downtown. The sidewalks were not much better, but we were hopeful, so carefully walked to the trail. The trail was covered in ice!!! We tried to be optimistic, so made our way down the trail, hoping to find a good clear spot to work on, but our hopes were dashed!!!

Jess recommends we cancel our runs when there is ice, as it can be really unsafe, especially since ice is quite difficult to see at times.

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On Friday evening, Kelly came with Piper, Ace and Juno. We didn’t do much on Saturday. She went to see friends, while Ace and Juno stayed with me. Juno was quiet and spent most of the time relaxing.

On Sunday, Kelly and I took Arizona, Piper and Juno to an obedience and rally fun match. Huib couldn’t come along, so I was looking forward to seeing how well Ari worked. She was GREAT!!!

We did two modified novice runs. Ari and I still need to work on off-leash heeling, automatic sits and stand-for-exam, so we did not do these parts. Instead, we did heeling on-lead and an off-leash sit-for-exam.

Arizona’s stays are pretty reliable, so during our first run, we did the one minute sit-stay, but I only had her do a two minute down-stay. She broke her down-stay as I went around her, but the person judging, said it was not Ari’s fault, so we put her back in a down and then walked back around, before I released her. During the second run, I had her do the one minute sit-stay, then for the down-stay, I had her do two minutes with me far away, then the final minute with me beside her. I felt she could do the full three minutes, but I didn’t want to push her, so told her she was doing well, but asked her to continue in a down, which she totally did – GOOD GIRL!!!

For the figure eights, we did the smaller one with halts at two different spots. To try and get rid of the lagging she tends to do, I used a treat to ‘drive’ her around the right side post, which seemed to get her moving quicker around the left. I think I’ll continue doing this a bit longer, then start phasing the reward.

Finally, we also did the longer distance recall. She did a good job. We need to work on a ‘front,’ but she came the second I called.

The person judging us, said she gave me good focus and attention throughout our run. I think I might need to find a new trial buddy, since she seems to work better when Huib is not around.

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On the breeding front.

Our kennel name was approved by the Canadian Kennel Club. We are officially known as REBELFIRE.

Or, REBELFIRE GOLDENS

Arizona has an appointment next week with a local reproductive vet, and then we’ll just wait to see when she comes in season. If she follows her usual schedule, she should be in heat during the first week of March.

Huib and I are both excited and nervous about our upcoming journey, but we’ve got some great mentors.

Stay tuned for more breeding updates.

A Week in Review

Another week has past.

On Monday, Huib and I went to the 9pm fitness swim at Victoria Road. The weather was icky, so the pool was quiet.

I did 1100 metres!!!

The first 500 m took 24 minutes, while the second 500 took closer to 26. I was still feeling good, and we had about seven minutes left before the pool closed, so Huib challenged me to do an extra 100 m – and I did it!!!

I was a bit surprised at how long I could swim, since I didd a one hour treadmill workout in the afternoon. I did a five minute warm-up at 3.1, 50 minutes at 3.5 and a five minute cool down at 3.0.

On Wednesday, Jess assigned me a run/walk interval workout. I am still working my way back to my former speeds, so I started out at more of a jog. I did a five minute warm-up at 3.1, seven reps of 30 seconds running at 4.2 and 3 minutes, 30 seconds walking at 3.5, with a three minute cool down at 3.0.

I can probably speed up my jog a bit, but I think I will do it slowly.

At 9pm, Huib and I went to the fitness swim. The pool was bit busier, but we were able to work around the others.

I did 1100 m again!!! This time, I did the first 500 m in 23 minutes and the second in 25, so the times were very close.

I have been dealing with a lot of migraines over the past couple of weeks, so I took Thursday and Friday off. The up and down temperatures are really making things difficult for me. 🙁

Saturday night I was feeling a bit better, so I did a short workout. I did a five minute warm-up at 3.1, 30 minutes at 3.5 and a two minute cool down at 3.0.

I have had three people respond to my ad in the University of Guelph’s Student Volunteer Connections newsletter. After emailing with them, I have set up times to run with two of them this coming week. 🙂

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On the dog front.

Arizona’s hip and elbow scores came back from OFA. She has EXCELLENT hips and NORMAL elbows. We are very happy with these scores.

Anne has begun to talk to the owner of a stud, and so far it’s looking positive. It took us a while to decide upon one, as some golden lines are known to have cancer, epilepsy or aggression, so we have had to do a lot of research to try and get away from them.

We are both excited and nervous about this new chapter. We are excited to begin our breeding adventure, but we’re nervous about the unknown.

This morning, Arizona attended an obedience fun match. We did two run-throughs with two different judges.

Huib gave us an 80% on our work.

Ari was a bit distracted by the sights, smells and sounds. It was a bit tight in the hall, so we didn’t have a lot of room to warm-up. She did a pretty good job on the heeling patterns, but did an amazing job on the stays. I had to repeat a couple ‘sits,’ but some may have been because I didn’t speak loud enough. I sort of bumped into the people being posts for the figure-eight in the first run, but I think it was because they weren’t quite loud enough for me to hear them. Otherwise, Arizona pulled a bit on the heel at times, but overall did quite well.

I was really happy with her group sit-stays though. During the first run, a dog broke their stay and there was someone working with their dog in the next ring. Ari was positioned by the fence, so she could have easily become distracted. In the second run, a dog broke their stay and Huib said Ari just looked over at it.

She has sure come a long way!!!

We have another fun match on February 2nd. Then we are entered in the February 3rd and 4th trials. Both the fun match and the trial are located in the same building, so Ari will get an opportunity to acclimatize before we really try to perform.

Until next time, stay safe and have fun.

Catching Up

A lot has happened over the past couple of weeks. I was unwell last week, so unable to update the blog.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend Piper came to visit. She has a bit of a shoulder injury, so we weren’t able to play any fetch, but we did go for long walks. To make things less busy, Huib took the goldens for bike rides, then him and I took Piper and Rogue for a walk. Neither Piper or Rogue enjoy the bike, so the arrangement worked well.

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On the 15th, Rogue attempted to earn her UTD (urban tracking dog) title. Unfortunately, she got caught up in a cross-track, and was unsuccessful. Our judge, Sharon Smith, was great!! She gave us tons of room to work and fail. After talking to her later on, I felt better knowing there was really nothing I could have done differently to save us.

We are going to do more work on cross-tracks and tracking on soft surfaces. I felt her hard surface tracking was a lot stronger than her soft surface tracking. I think it might be because we worked a lot on hard surface when my ankle was healing.

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On the 18th, D came over and we went for a walk/run. I wasn’t feeling perfectly well, so we didn’t do a lot of running, but it felt good to get back into it. We did our 4 kilometre route, running for 20 seconds. four different times, on quieter streets.

My leg muscles were a bit sore the following day, but my ankle felt good.

I still want to get back to the pool, and do some work at the gym on the bike and elliptical, but it was nice to start running again.

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Arizona’s test results came back from Paw Print Genetics. She is clear of everything, except PRA 2, which she is a carrier of. This means we cannot use the stud we had hoped to use, so we’re looking at other options.

Now we have to get her heart, hips and elbows cleared.

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On Saturday, we met up with Laura and some others to track at Guelph Lake. I had hoped to have all three of the dogs track, but the Grand River Conservation Authority has closed park access to cars, so we weren’t able to find space for many tracks. As a result, only Arizona got a chance to work.

Ari did a fabulous job!!! Even though the track conditions were poor, she worked hard and did not do much ‘crittering.’

Huib has decided to try and enter Arizona into the November 12th TD test.

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On Sunday, it was really nice weather, so Susie put on a field session.

Arizona was hesitant about entering the water, so I called her back to set her up again and resend her. She jumped in and went straight for the duck, brought it back and gave it to me. I almost dropped it, but caught it by the foot, lol!! Her second retrieve was perfect.

On land, Susie had us set up things, so the dogs would have to go through a variety of covers.

Canyon joined us, wearing his Ruffwear Swamp Cooler vest to stay cool in the sun.

Huib had him do the first two land retrieves, before I sent Arizona. He was great!!! Even though he ran a bit short of the bird, he searched and located it without any assistance – Good Boy!!

Arizona did two beautiful land retrieves.

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Before I sign off, a quick update on Canyon’s seizures.

After seven months and ten days without a seizure, Canyon had a very mild one on Friday evening. I say “very mild” because it really never progressed past the initial tensing of the body. It might have been that Huib got Rescue Remedy into him within a minute of Canyon telling us there’s a problem, or maybe it’s something else, but we were happy with the improvement.

Now we’re hoping for at least month before his next.

Hunt Test Success

It was a good hunt test weekend.

On Saturday, Arizona did two beautiful land retrieves. Huib said she ran out and ran back faster than she has done before. He thought she looked quite flashy!!

Over lunch, we met some people and got to reconnect with others from last year.

While waiting for Air’s turn in the water, Huib and I met a woman who has an 18 month old female golden, whose sire is the male we are considering for Arizona in March. Shelby is a very nice looking girl, who loves the water and to retrieve.

After meeting her, and Anne’s Teal, we are really hoping Arizona is found clear for ichthyosis, so she can be bred with Kip.

When it was Arizona’s turn for water, I got her set up and ready to go. The judge did their duck call, the gunner did theirs and then shot the gun as they tossed the duck into the pond. Once the judge said “dog,” I released her.

She ran 10 feet into the pond and laid down. I told her “fetch,” and she walked a couple more feet before lying down again. She then got up and walked along the water a bit, looking around. At this point, I knew we were done, which was confirmed when the judge suggested I call her back and resend. He felt it would be good to get something out of the opportunity.

I’m not sure why, but it took a bit to get her to return to my side. Once she did, the judge asked the gunner to do the duck call again, so I could resend and Ari would know where to go. She jumped into the water and began to swim towards the bird.

The duck was about 70 or so feet away, and she had to swim through a channel to get there. In training, we have never done channels or retrieves this far, so when Ari got through the narrowing, she lost sight of the bird. The gunner tossed a rock into the pond and she swam over to the bird, returning it back to me.

I don’t think the distance was an issue, but we will definitely need to work on swimming through channels.

Huib also says I need to work on my tone of voice more. He thought I sounded a bit too suggestive when asking Arizona to come back to me. He doesn’t think it would have made a big difference in the results, but maybe there’s a 20-30 percent chance things could have turned out better.

Even though we were unsuccessful, I learned some things we need to work on, so the trip was definitely worthwhile.

On Sunday, Arizona did two beautiful land retrieves – GOOD GIRL!!!

Huib overheard one of the judges saying they liked her look, so that was pretty neat. Another cool thing about the judges, was that one is the breeder of Kip.

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As a side note, when the day was over, I got a chance to talk to her about potentially using him, and she said that he would bring some good things to Arizona’s puppies.

I am getting pretty excited about breeding her, but then I’m also really nervous.

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As we were walking back to the car, a few other handlers complimented me on Arizona. I think she’s a pretty fun dog to work with, but she can also be really frustrating. 🙂

While the other dogs had their turn, I sat with some of the handlers and we chatted about… dogs. 😉

Arizona stayed with us, so that she wouldn’t bark and bother the other dogs as they worked. She was pretty good about lying beside me, but after a while got bored and whined. At one point, a dog in the senior hunt group walked by and tried to start an argument. Huib was holding Arizona’s leash at the time and said she did nothing, just moved a bit when the dog got really in her face – GOOD GIRL!!!

After lunch, we all went to see where we’d be working for water. I was a bit nervous about the fact we would be using a different pond, but I also knew I couldn’t control the situation, so just needed to stay calm.

When it was Ari’s turn, we walked up to the shore and got set up. The judge and gunner did their thing, but the bird did not make much of a splash. At first, the judges felt it might be okay, so gave me the signal to release her. I did and she walked about 10 feet in and laid down. As she was lying down, the judges had decided to call it a “no bird,” because they thought it was unfair to make a junior dog work without a splash, as it wouldn’t give them enough of a visual. They asked me to call her in and got another dog to come and retrieve the bird.

We returned to the blind and waited to be called back to the line.

When it was our turn, I got her set up, and released her when I got the sign.

She ran right into the water and jumped in – YAY!!! She swam directly to the bird and then came right back and gave it to me. I did the same thing with the second bird and she handed it directly to me -GOOD GIRL!!!

Arizona isn’t a fast or flashy swimmer, but she can get the job done.

As a result of her work, she PASSED, earning her first JH leg.

Here’s a picture of her and I posing with her rosette.

For my blind readers: I’m wearing a black long-sleeved shirt, black pants, grey shoes with pink laces, black Oakley sunglasses and my black hat that has CESSNA written in yellow. I think the rosette is green and brown, but I could be wrong. We’re in front of a rock. I’m kneeling with her sitting in front of me.

Oh yeah, as we were about to leave, the club members remembered that they still needed to do the draws for the 50/50 draw and the gift basket. They asked me to pick a ticket first and I picked out my own ticket. Then, they asked another person to pick a ticket, and he picked me again, lol!!!

Who knows how we’ll do, but as long as nothing comes up, we’re going to enter her into another hunt test on Sunday. It’s at the same location, so I’m hoping she’ll do okay. The owner of the place seems really friendly, so I may ask if we can take her for a short dunk in the pond during lunch, see if we can overcome the initial need to lie down.

In the meantime, it’s going to be a busy week for us. Tonight, we’ll go swimming at 9pm. Tomorrow, Arizona has field class, and afterwards, D and I are going to go for a walk. On Wednesday, I’m going to attend the first day of the Canadian General Standards Board’s Service Dog Committee meeting over the phone. At night, we’re off to Ottawa until Saturday morning, so I can attend the other two days in-person. Saturday, we’ll go tracking with our friend Michelle and her English Springer, Cameron, before heading home.

Until next time, stay safe and have fun!!!

An Assortment of Things

A quick apology before I begin, but this post is going to be a bit random.

On Wednesday evening, Huib and I went to Victoria Road’s 9pm fitness swim. We have been trying to go to the morning ones, but on Monday Huib was too sleepy, and then on Tuesday my migraine got in the way. With the unstable weather this month, my migraines have been pretty constant. 🙁

I wasn’t sure how long I’d b able to swim, as I still had a migraine, but I really felt it was important to do something.

I swam 500 metres in 29 minutes!!! That is the fastest I have swam so far!! I then swam another 100 metres before getting out of the pool.

If I keep improving as quick as I have been, who knows what goals I’ll be able to achieve next year.

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As of Monday, it has been ten weeks since my ankle injury. With the continued discomfort, we’re pretty sure it was fractured. To ensure no long-term problems, I have scheduled an appointment with our family doctor on the 7th, so we can talk about a possible x-ray.

Laura said it took about 18 weeks for her fractured ankle to feel completely normal, so maybe it will take me a similar amount of time. Sadly, I’m beginning to think I will not be able to do a 5 kilometre run with Jason on Halloween.

Who would have thought I’d actually be sad about not running….? LOL!!!

I will keep everyone posted on my recovery.

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Even though I will not be returning to McMaster this year, I applied for teaching assistant positions in the fall and winter terms. I really enjoy teaching and marking, so I hope I am given at least one of the many classes available. Even one term would be nice.

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Yesterday, we took Rogue and Arizona to see Dr. Whelan. He’s a doggie-ophthalmologist. I have been taking my dogs to see him since 2011, when I learned that Cessna has tiny cataracts in both of her eyes and Canyon has scarring on his retinas.

Rogue’s eyes are good. He says nothing has changed since she saw him two years ago.

It is always a great relief to hear your guide dog can see, lol!!!

Arizona is also good. She has been cleared of any inheritable eye conditions – YAY!!!

Dr. Whelan did find a fine linear cataract on her right eye, but he said it is not inheritable and he does not suspect it will progress. I asked him what could have caused it and he said “the cells stopped growing and died.” I asked him if it’s just that “shit happens,” and he agreed.

I was really worried that this would mean no future Arizona puppies, but Anne seems happy with the report – YAY!!!

Our next hurdle is the genetic testing. The Paw Print Genetics kit should be arriving soon.

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To try and promote further healing of my ankle, I’m taking it easy today and over the weekend as well. I think I might have over-done it last week, as I didn’t feel as much discomfort the week before. I just get so bored sitting around, and we have lots of training to do, if we want to enter field and tracking tests this fall.