In It For The Money

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

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


Canyon at 4 or 5 months of age

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


Aspen with her half sister Moose (same stud)

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

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

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

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

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

A Little Help With Training

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canyon Update


We are still waiting for canyon’s CKc paperwork to arrive, but are hoping it will come soon so we can enter our first obedience trial in November – if Huib’s work schedule allows for that to happen….

Each day I’ve been spending time with Canyon to try and decrease his response time – at this point he’ll sit or lie down immediately if both a verbal and hand signal are used and as long as nothing more interesting is happening around us. I’ve been trying to do a lot of my training during games of fetch – since he’s much more toy motivated than food – getting him to sit, lie down stay until another dog retrieves the toy or stand before I give him the release command and throw the toy. He does well at the staying in a down until Aspen or Cessna brings back the toy (my attempt at teaching him a little self-control), but we still need to work on his immediate obeying of sit, down or stand before being released to play. Since we tend to play fetch for about 15-20 minutes 2-3 times a day, I think Canyon’s obedience response times will soon become immediate rather than occurring after sometimes being asked several times. I know I should just wait him out, but he’s almost just as stubborn as me so after a minute I give in and ask again…

We had Canyon at the vet last week for his rabies vaccine and discussed future breeding. Our vet told us to continue what we’re doing for now and she’ll refer us to the Ontario Veterinary College in June since they would rather not perform health clearances until he’s 2 years of age. This gives us tons of time to make our final decision as to whether we’d like to breed him and to work towards an obedience title or two. We haven’t heard anything from the professional hanlder we wrote a few weeks ago, so at the advice of an acquaintance I’m going to pursue alternative avenues for help with Canyon’s confirmation.

It is really an exciting time for me as I can actually begin to see myself entering an obedience trial with my handsome stud muffin

To Show, Or Not To Show…

Over the past 8 months Canyon has grown up to be handsome, confident and a great companion. When we got him in December we signed a contract saying we would not neuter him until he was a year of age, which was on June 3rd – almost 3 months ago now. Over the past couple of months Huib and I have been considering a change in our non-breeding contract, because given Canyon’s looks and temperament we really think it would be a loss to neuter him and have him to just be a regular pet. We have discussed our thoughts with the breeder (Judi Ford of Ramblin Goldens) of his sire (Kashuba’s Ramblin Blaze N Time) and she seems quite supportive of us changing our original plans and helping us where possible.

Some breeders seem really focused on titles so I guess we should consider this for our golden boy…especially if we want some business for our future stud.

Both Huib and I don’t really know much about the whole show dog world – just what we’ve seen on television – so we talked to Judi and she gave us the names of a couple handlers she has used for Blaze and another of her dogs, Gracie (Dove Cottage Grace Under Fire). I have sent an e-mail out to one of them (colin Brownlee) and am awaiting his response. We have not completely decided yet, whether we’ll show Canyon, but at least we’ve started the process. I guess our biggest concern is the effect the show ring atmosphere might have on our golden boy. He’s so laid back and has an extremely soft temperament – will the breeding change this? We’re also not wanting our training methods to change – we’ve used absolutely no collar corrections and have tried to teach him everything through shaping and praise (he actually rarely ever wears a collar at all). Will another person (even if it is just for the show ring) be willing to continue what we’ve started?

Last night I wasn’t really tired and did some research on confirmation and obedience trials. I’ve been informed by fellow dog owners that my visual impairment might cause issues in showing Canyon myself – this is why we’ve decided to look for someone else to help. After reading several websites on showing a dog, I’ve come to realize that Canyon might have a difficult time in the ring because the number one suggestion on every site is that you not teach your dog to sit… When we got Canyon (at 6.5 months) he had a bad habit of jumping up and barging through doors, so we taught him to sit in an effort to eliminate these behaviours. Now I’m stuck wondering if maybe this was not such a good idea after all.

When reading some other websites on obedience titles though, I realized that it would be silly for me not to work towards having Canyon attain at least his Novice (CD). So today I did some refresher reading on clicker training and have decided to try and slowly work through Sue Ailsby’s training levels. I worked on these a year ago with Cessna, almost getting her through level three, but we are a little rusty now.

So, tomorrow’s lesson for Canyon is clicker sensitizing (might not be the right word) and doggie zen. Maybe I’ll even start working through the levels with Cessna again – can’t hurt right? Stay tuned for updates!

“Don’t be afraid to reach for the moon because even if you don’t succeed you’ll still be one of the stars.”

A Month of Visitors

Over the past month we’ve had two young boys visiting us. Corbin is 18 months and Caleb is 12 years old. Corbin was here with his mom and her guide dog DeeDee, while Caleb stayed on his own with us.

During Corbin’s visit we learned that our dogs and cats have a huge amount of patience. Laya and Cessna tended to stay out of Corbin’s way, but the others were patient with his poking and pulling. I wasn’t sure what Logan would do around a young child, but there were times when we weren’t able to catch Corbin in time, so Logan would let out a low growl to let us know she needed our help. Corbin thought Logan was so cool, he liked pulling on her tail and grabbing her ears. Logan never once scratched him, she would just try and get away or call out for help. She isn’t one to hide either, unlike Laya, Logan was out in the open pretty much all the time – guess she thought he’d get the point after a while like the puppies usually do.

Phoenix and Aspen weren’t as into Corbin’s poking and pulling, but would patiently lie under him while he bounced until we caught him or he got bored. Corbin has a dog of his own, his mom’s guide dog, but he still doesn’t really know how to properly treat animals. He’s still young though, so hopefully he’ll learn soon. Canyon was the best with him. He never once shyed away and was always willing to let him pull on his tail, ears and jowls. At one point corbin even had a hold of Canyon’s lips while sticking his thumbs into his nose. Huib caught him in the act and that was discouraged. Even though Canyon didn’t always like what Corbin was doing, he still went up and wanted to play. It’s amazing to see how well cats and dogs can behave around young children – even when they aren’t used to having them around.

Caleb was much better with the animals. He offered to feed the cats each morning and let the dogs out for relief. The dogs loved having him around, but he wasn’t a huge fan of their desire to lick him or be in his face. His favourites were Cessna and Aspen, he’d ask to take them out with him all the time. Canyon was a little much at times for him, but I had to remind him that his energy level wasn’t always helping either. Caleb didn’t realize why Canyon wanted to always jump up on him when he was dancing around or laughing uncontrollably.

Caleb liked taking Cessna with us to the gold mine tour in Timmins and Science North in Sudbury. Caleb and his mom fostered a puppy named Jasper for Autism Dog Services so he was used to taking dogs places, but he still seemed to like seeing how Cessna reacted to the different environments. At the gold mine tour the tour guide showed us how the different machinery worked which freaked Cessna right out. The slusher and drill are extremely loud and with us being underground the rock vibrated and the noise was amplified. She was a trooper though and calmed right down once the machines were turned off.

At Science North I thought she’d be afraid of the noises coming from the dinosaurs and the ones that moved, but she surprised me and didn’t even react once. I think she really liked the insects and animals she got to see. Caleb was able to hold almost all of the insects in the exhibit and made sure to show Cessna, she thought that was pretty cool – I made sure she had her gentle leader on though so I could easily control her excitement. When we were on the animal floor, she was totally enthralled by the skunk who was anxious and walking back and forth in its enclosure. We didn’t take her with us on the second day, but I actually got to touch the skunk – she (Rosie) felt a lot like Cessna, but with fur about the length of Canyon or Laya.

Canyon came with us to Sudbury and Toronto, he was awesome! He settled immediately in his crate while we left him at the hotel – huib looked under the door to see what he what he was doing.

At Caleb’s house in Toronto he was interested in the bird and snake, but was easier to re-direct than Cessna who wouldn’t stop going up to the bird cage. On Saturday night I went onto Facebook to see what was new with my friends and family and saw that my friend’s daughter was back in the hospital. Knowing that we were only a few blocks away, I decided that we’d go visit with her before heading back north. Christina has a service dog from Autism Dog Services named Spencer so loves seeing us with the dogs when we visit. The second we entered her room she had a huge smile on her face and throughout our visit never fell asleep or stopped giggling. The funniest part of our visit with her, was to see how she pretended to sleep every time a doctor or nurse entered the room. When you first meet Christina you’d think she was unaware of her surroundings and it didn’t matter what you said around her – well you’d be completely wrong. She is unable to communicate, but from watching her facial expressions and observing her reactions to various incidents you actually understand that she’s quite an intelligent little girl who can’t express herself, but knows how to work the system  Christina’s seizures still seemed to be under control while we were visiting so the doctors were talking about sending her home the following day, so that was pretty exciting news.

Our trip home was pretty uneventful and boring for the dogs, but they were good little travelers as usual. It’s hard to believe, but as of Tuesday we’ve lived in Northeastern Ontario for a year. So far it hasn’t been all that great, but hopefully this year will bring a little more luck and less frustration. Huib has 3 more years left of his contract with the Kirkland & District Hospital, so hopefully the time will go quickly or things will improve dramatically.

4 Months Away


I have had a pretty busy few months so haven’t had the time to blog. Now that things have slowed some I’m going to try and post more often.

Canyon turned a year old on the 3rd of June and got some new toys to share with everyone. He is 23 inches tall, 22 inches long and just 70lbs. We had him to the vet for his heartworm test and the vet said we could continue feeding him puppy food and add in fats that might entice him to eat more. She says he should be closer to 80lbs by now and will get up to 90lbs by the time he has fully filled out. His coat has grown in nicely and he seems a bit darker than he was before his coat fell out. His obedience is well on it’s way and he has already started being able to play fetch with the girls in the yard. He still isn’t the greatest at heeling, but we got an easy walk harness in June and it seems to help redirect him easier than the newtrix, gentle leader or martin gale. We took him to Toronto for Woofstock with Cessna and he was fantastic! He was quite interested in all the different dogs and smells, but listened pretty well. We were with a bunch of puppies in training, so Canyon fit right in.

Aspen turned 7 on the 18th of June and was given the special task of cleaning out the lasagna pan. We also made some banana cinnamon cookies for her and Canyon to share with the others. She’s been swimming tons and playing fetch in the yard every chance she gets. Her and Canyon are obsessed with the game and will grab a toy as they walk out if you’re not watching.

Cessna and I celebrated our 5th year as a team on May 27th. She has really made a mark on my heart and I get sad thinking about the fact that she will be turning 7 in October. She has matured tons and become such an amazing companion. She spends almost all her day watching out for me and the other dogs. She will defend Aspen against Canyon when he’s being a bully and not allowing her to bring the toy to Huib or I, she will run to me and make sure I am okay when walking down the steps in front of our house and just always seems to be watching over everyone. I’m really not sure I’ll ever be able to find a dog good enough to fill her shoes. It’s been a long road, but we’ve gotten here and I hope she’ll work another couple years for me.

Phoenix is still the same old, happy go lucky, boy we’ve loved forever. He can’t hear or run, but he still makes sure to keep the younger ones in line. We started him on a new anti-inflammatory supplement a month ago and it really seems to be making a difference in his ability to get around. He doesn’t seem as stiff after lying in one spot for too long and he doesn’t seem to hesitate at the top of the stairs before going down to the grass. He’ll be 14 in October and I think he is doing amazing!

As you can see, lots has changed and been happening for us all. Canyon is becoming a man, Cessna is becoming a wise middle aged woman, Aspen is finally able to play, and Phoenix is moving smoothly through his golden years. I look forward to getting back into the whole blogging thing and sharing our lives with you all.

Progress

Canyon has now been with us for almost 3 months and he has come such a long way. He now comes when called and he recognizes the difference between his name and the others. He is still not eating as much as I’d like, but he’s maintaining his weight at 67lbs. It is amazing to see what a difference a month has made. Once his recall is perfect, we’ll begin focusing on his heeling and stays. I am taking my time with him because I want him to know everything well before moving onto something different.

On another note, Cessna has spring fever. I find each spring she goes through a period of ignoring commands and letting her nose get her into trouble. I am thinking that she needs to work more, but it’s hard when Huib works and we live away from town. I think I’ll just need to start doing a little obedience training each day to get her back into shape.

This past week a friend of mine adopted a 1 year old great Dane lab cross from the Guelph Humane Society. I am really excited for her, she has wanted a pet dog for a while and has taken her time in finding the right one. His original name was Tank, but her and her fiance have decided to name him Kyo which means “big” in Japanese. She picked Kyo up on Thursday and had her guide dog meet him outside their home. Kyo needs a lot of work on obedience and relaxing, but I am confident that he has found his forever home. I will post updates and pictures of Kyo as I get them.

Condo update….SOLD!!! We will be going to Waterloo from the 28th until the 1st of April to deal with everything. We are quite excited because now we can stop living in a deficit each month and pay off some debt. We are going to view a house in town on Monday afternoon. We are not sure we want to buy our current home and are looking at other options now that our condo is SOLD!!!

Update

We have now had Canyon for almost 4 weeks and he has learned so much. He can sit and lie down on command, unless of course he isn’t interested in listening – which seems to be a theme in this house!! His house training is coming along, he has begun to sit at the door when he needs out – we are going on day 3 of no accidents!!

Our other dogs are still getting used to him. Phoenix ignores him for the most part, but Cessna enjoys wrestling and running around with him outside. Aspen gets along with him most of the time, but there are those odd moments when Canyon decides to bark at her, which causes stress…hopefully this behaviour will stop soon.

On another note, we finally got a new vehicle! We got a 2000 Ford Expedition and the dogs are absolutely loving all the space. We got it on Saturday and have already set up the back for ultimate doggie comfort by removing the very back bench and putting down foam along with a blanket.

In order to keep them safe and keep the passengers from complaining about dog hair, we bought a barrier which goes along the back of the seats and blocks the dogs from jumping up front. We had them out for a test drive yesterday and from the picture we took, I think you’d agree that they are loving their new ride!

Before I sign off, here’s a quick update on Reece. He’s almost been adopted, the potential family is just doing some last minute research on his elbow issue in order to make sure that they will be able to meet his needs in the future. I am really excited about this possible home because we will get to see him often and maybe even dog sit sometimes  I know it has taken a long time for a home to be found, but if this one goes through then I think the wait was worth it. Good luck Reecey Piecey, Mommy misses you and hopes to see you really soon. I have avoided seeing him thus far, so that he does not get confused as to why we are not taking him home. I want him to be well bonded to his family before we begin visiting – thus lessening the stress on both him and I. It would be too heart breaking to see him and then leave him again knowing he still doesn’t have a forever home.

Introducing Canyon


After some unfortunate circumstances, we have put our puppy raising hat on the shelf. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with Autism dog Services, but it is now time to move on.

For the past month and a bit Huib and I have been trying to decide on what breed of dog we wanted to introduce into our family. We looked at getting a Bernese mountain dog, but due to timing, decided to wait a year or two. While surfing on the internet, I decided to look on the website of Rambling Goldens to see if they had any puppies coming from Smooches, the niece of our Aspen. Unfortunately she has been retired from their breeding stalk, but when I looked on their young adults available page I saw a puppy who interested me. When Huib got home that evening I showed him the pictures and profile. He asked me if it was still available and that question began our journey to bringing home Canyon (formerly sparky).

Canyon is a 6 ½ month old male golden retriever. He is (coincidentally) Aspen’s nephew – his mom, Goldie, is her half sister. He is 60lbs and already physically bigger than both Cessna and Aspen. His coat is thick and very fluffy – Aspen’s is not even close to as thick. He has not begun to feather, so it will be interesting to see how he looks in 6 months to a year’s time. His coat is similar to aspen in colour, except that his does not have as much white and hers has a little more red to it. He is gentle and sweet, but being a puppy he is also a big goof.

He does not yet know his name, but he did not seem to respond to Sparky so we decided that changing it wouldn’t be a big problem. We got the name Canyon from a list of cities in Texas. We now have Phoenix (Arizona), aspen (Colorado) and Canyon (Texas). The name Cessna does not really fit into our naming theme, but I’m sure Cessnas fly to each of those cities so it works  In order to teach him his name, we are practicing recall as much as possible.

Canyon has now been with us for 4 days and seems to be settling into our pack. Both Aspen and Cessna will play with him outside and Phoenix no longer gives him warning barks when he comes too close. he was not used to living in a house, but in such a short period of time he has already figured it all out. There has only been one accident inside and he is starting to pace less. Today he has actually been lying beside me longer than he has paced around the house. Our cats aren’t a huge fan, but I’m sure they will get used to him soon. They are never a big fan of a new dog coming into the house.

Before closing this post, a quick update on Reece. He is still waiting to be adopted, but the surgeon has decided that even though he is a good candidate for the corrective surgery, he probably won’t benefit much at this time. He is currently staying with a family in Kitchener, but hopefully soon he will find his forever home. I will post a picture or two of him when I get them.

“Every dog should have a man of his own. There is nothing like a well-behaved person around the house to spread the dog’s blanket for him, or bring him his supper when he comes home man-tired at night.”