Seminar & Other Stuff

This weekend, Huib, Cessna and I attended a breeding seminar with Amy from Me And My Pups. the seminar was being hosted by The Labrador Owners Club so of course their were several lab breeders in attendance, as well as, a table of West Highland White Terrier breeders, a Duck Toller breeder, a couple Wheaten breeders, a man who breeds Old English Sheepdogs, a woman who breeds golden retrievers and some others that I can’t remember.

Dr. Carmen Battaglia, a breeder, lecturer, researcher and author of “Breeding Dogs To Win”, was the presenter for the two day seminar. He taught us an easier way of understanding the pedigree of dogs through the introduction of “stick dog” figures, and a “symbols” pedigree. By using these two methods, breeders are better able to visualize the strengths and weaknesses of their females in order to find a stud that will help alleviate some of their weak traits or compliment their strengths. I found the seminar to be a bit on the more visual side, but also found it educational. Huib and I are not looking at getting a breeding female until Phoenix crosses the rainbow bridge, so have tons of time to collect pedigrees and learn all we can about the “missing” pieces of a traditional pedigree – such as the health concerns and structural traits of the ancestors.

On Sunday we began our journey home and experienced some problems with the truck around Oshawa. Luckily Amy was still with us, so we called CAA and had the truck towed to a dealership near her parent’s place. We stayed the night and had the truck examined the following morning. I was pretty frustrated by the lack of attention the dealership gave us, but was happy when they finally called to say we could pick it up around 5:30pm and head north. Phoenix, Aspen and Canyon had stayed with my step-dad and sister while we were away so I was eager to get home and pick them up. My Dad and sister are great with the dogs, but for some reason Aspen was stressed and having issues with her incontinence so I was pretty worried about her and annoyed that we would be delayed in returning. Aspen has had issues with incontinence since she was young, but for the most part it doesn’t happen often – just when she’s had too much water or when she is feeling stressed. While with my sister, she had about two or three incidents a day, which is unusual, so I really wanted to get back to her. Since we picked them up Monday night, she has not had an issue…

On Sunday I also sent an e-mail to the breeder who owns Canyon’s sire and brother to see how Phoenix’s (brother) clearances had gone. Judi was taking Phoenix to have his clearances done that morning, so I was eager to learn about his eyes. Well, it turns out that Phoenix also has scarring on the retina of his right eye in addition to folds. As far as I know, retinal folds are an issue common in the collie breeds (not so much in golden retrievers), but in Phoenix’s case, Huib is wondering if it might not be related to whatever caused the scarring in the two brothers. He is thinking that maybe Phoenix had the infection or whatever slightly worse in his right eye, causing inflammation that left the folds. I think it would be interesting to find out if their sisters also have the scarring, but since they are most likely just pet dogs, I don’t think we’ll ever know. With this news, Judi has begun the process of finding Phoenix a new home because it is not possible for her to keep a dog who cannot be in her program. I really wish we had known this a few months ago because I know Brandi would have adopted him for sure, but she now has Dawsen and doesn’t think she could handle another dog at this point.

Here’s a picture of Dawsen from one of our many walks in the winter.

Yesterday Canyon and I had our fifth training session with the Border Collie lady and again it went well. Brandi came along to watch so she could see what we were learning and if she would like to do something similar with Dawsen. We did some “lefts” and “rights”, practiced the “heel” position a bit more and worked on his “fronts”. Then, we started teaching him to “go around” so that in the summer he will be ready for Flyball lessons. I thought he would be too big for Flyball, but the Border Collie lady thinks that his obsession with balls will work well in this sport.

As an aside, I’m sort of getting the impression that she isn’t sure I will be able to be successful in agility with my dogs since I won’t be able to run the course with them. I’ve tried to explain that I could stand in the middle and direct them, but I’m not sure she sees how it is possible to be successful…so I guess I’ll just have to show her how it’s done. Does anyone else know of a blind or visually impaired person who has done agility with their dogs?

After the session was over, we talked a bit about the seminar I had attended on the weekend and she really thinks that we should show Canyon even once for the experience. So, Huib has said that if the Temiskaming Kennel Club has their show in new Liskeard this summer, that he would be willing to show Canyon for me – could I be rubbing off on him? Then, just before we were leaving the Border Collie lady asked my sister if she had a dog and Brandi told her about Dawsen. After listening to the concerns Brandi had, she asked if she would be interested in attending some obedience classes and Brandi said she’d love to. So, Dawsen will be starting his classes next Thursday!! Brandi wants me to come along, but Huib and I both told her that we think it would be better for her to do this on her own with Dawsen because part of the issue is that she worries about what others think and relies on us to help her, so it’s time they did some real work together and develop a more respectful relationship. I’ll keep you all posted on how their classes go…

Before I end this post, I thought I’d let you all know that our potential puppy is due on Monday (April 18th). Cheyenne is the dam of this litter and her breeder feels that one of her girls might be a good fit for us. They tend to be a little more independent minded and she finds them a little harder to place in homes because they need more experienced handlers and more stimulation. Our ideal puppy is exactly what she has described, so we’re quite eager to hear about the litter and to find out how well they score on the aptitude test. We’re still waiting for the pedigrees and clearances the breeder was supposed to send us, but are hoping that this delay isn’t a sign that we should be looking elsewhere. I think I’ll e-mail her again and give her my sister’s address in addition to the hospital’s fax number and my e-mail address in the hopes that it’s just our mail service that is the issue.

Training With Canyon

On Tuesday, Canyon and I had our fourth lesson with the Border Collie lady and it went quite well!

Last week, we worked some more on our positioning for the “heel” and then began trying to walk further and further with him remaining “in position”. He stays right by my side most of the time, but will sometimes get a little ahead, so this week we started saying “wrong” and starting over again. She explained that if I just kept changing directions when he got out of place that he wouldn’t understand exactly where or if he did something wrong. This really made sense to me, so instead of just continuing on for as long as I want, I’m stopping the second he’s out of place, telling him “wrong” and returning to where we started. I found this week to be one of the best sessions because Canyon and I have really begun to understand one another.

This week we also practiced our “fronts”, “sit-stays” and “hand touches”. For the “front”, she has me sit on the very edge of a chair with my legs slightly outstretched to give Canyon a sort of spot to aim for. Then she has me throw a treat and then call him, using my hands to sort of direct him into the centre of my body – not sure this really makes too much sense, so I’ll try and explain how I position my hands. When Canyon is retrieving the treat, I sort of hold my hands together as though I’m praying, but have my arms outstretched, and as he comes I bring my arms towards my body in a sort of “U” motion. For the most part, Canyon tends to come in straight, but stays about a foot or so back. The Border Collie lady thinks this is probably close enough since he’s a big boy, but we are rewarding the times he comes in really close, as opposed to when he is just perfectly straight. His “hand touches” are coming along, but he still won’t really do them on command – it more looks as though he’s just bumping my hand because it was there or because he thinks there is a treat. I’ve made a “touch stick” to try and further his understanding. We made the “touch stick” from a mop handle and put bright yellow and navy blue electrical tape on one end to give him a target. Cessna already knows this game, so I’ve also purchased a button thingy that makes different laughing noises when pressed for her to practice the “touch” with. I want her to get really good at “nose touching” before we move on to learning a new command for “paw touching”.

The rest of our session this week was spent learning two new behaviours – backing up and turning left and right. For backing up, she has us toss treats between his front paws and as he goes to move, we say “back”. He really liked this game, but after ten tries was not quite ready to do it without the treat being thrown. Unfortunately, Huib will have to help with this one because the aim needs to be perfect and I need to click the second he moves his paws. I think teaching Cessna this command on my own will be easier though since she is black and there is better contrast between her paws and the floor. she already knows how to back up when on leash, so I think it shouldn’t be too hard to teach her how to do it in other contexts.

Then, to teach the the lefts and rights, the Border Collie lady had me hold a treat above Canyon’s head and with my right hand move him in a counter-clockwise circle while saying “left” and then doing the same with my left hand, but instead having him move in a clockwise circle while saying “right”. He started doing this one quite easily, but we’ll have to practice a bit before I think he’ll do it without the lure. Cessna knows her lefts and rights for working, so again I think it will be easy to teach her in the new context.

Canyon and I have four more obedience lessons with the Border Collie lady before she sets up her agility equipment for the spring/summer sessions. At this point, we’ll be working outside and she’ll have less of a time constraint, so Cessna will begin coming as well. I won’t work the two together, but will have one in the truck while the other has their half hour lesson. I’m hoping to build some of my own agility equipment in the summer, so we can practice what we’ve learned at home.

Theme Songs

While on Twitter yesterday I saw this question, “What would your dog’s theme song be?”, and it got me thinking. I’ve never really thought about what songs would suit the personality and/or character of each of my dogs, so I thought it would be a pretty cool task to undertake.

After a few hours of filtering through the various songs on my computer and discussing each choice with Huib, we came up with the following:

Cessna ~ The Hamsterdance Song by Hampton The Hamster
Canyon ~ Can I Go Nowhere with You by Joel Plaskett
Phoenix ~ What the Hell by Avril Levigne and
Aspen ~ Girls Just Wanna Have fun by Cindy Lauper

If you know anything about our dogs, I’m sure you’ll agree that each of the above songs really fits. But, for those who have not had the pleasure of meeting our wonderful canines, I’ll take a moment to explain why we’ve chosen each song.

Cessna is a very happy, go lucky girl. She is always ready for anything and if she even thinks you’re considering a trip outside, she’s up and ready to go. She loves to swim. She loves to play. And most of all she loves to experience fun and exciting things – for example, our trip to Marineland. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Cessna has forced us to learn new things in order to always remain one step ahead and has challenged every expectation of “what a service dog should be”. I think Hampton the Hamster’s song truly illustrates her lust for life and constant desire to just let it all loose and party!

We chose Joel Plaskett’s song “Can I Go Nowhere With You” for Canyon because it doesn’t matter what he’s doing or whether you’ve been moving throughout the house all day without any real goal, he’ll stop and happily follow along. Canyon is a truly loyal companion and this song demonstrates his love of just being with his family, no matter what’s happening around him.

Phoenix has always been an Avril Levigne fan, when a song of hers would come on the radio you’d see his tail wagging along, so it’s quite funny that her newest song just happens to be a suiting theme for Phoenix. As I’ve said many times before, Phoenix was a wonderful guide and companion throughout my final year of high school and then during my years at the University of Guelph. He was good in classes, never got distracted easily, and for the most part, listened to everything I asked. When he began getting close to retirement I noticed he no longer wanted to do a lot of these things and would test me on even the simplest of tasks. Since his retirement, almost six years ago, he has continued to live his life on his own terms and if we don’t like it he doesn’t seem phased. He’ll just wag his tail and walk on by. It’s as though he’s saying “I was good for a very long time, so it’s time to just let my hair down and enjoy life”. Well, I think I agree with him, he did work hard and definitely deserves to say “what the hell” and enjoy his final years without worry.

Finally, we chose Cindy Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” as Aspen’s theme song because that’s pretty much how it is. Aspen was our first pet dog and has really never had a true job to do, except for keep Phoenix company and help out with the puppies when we have one. She knows only her basic commands of: sit, down, come, stay, leave it and heel. She’s shown absolutely no desire to learn anything further than to give five and we’re okay with that. Aspen always has a smile on her face and thinks everyone should love her.

So, there you have it, each of the ruled by paws gang, now has a theme song.

Do your fur babies have one?

It’s Our Choice

Last week I was telling a friend about what I’ve recently taught Cessna and Canyon. Instead of the usual questions though, he asked about whether our landlords would care that we had been putting tape on the walls and then finished off by saying he doesn’t get why I do all this with them because they are just dogs. The fact that he seemed disinterested in what I was telling him was frustrating, but what really stuck in my mind was his “they’re just dogs” comment.

I’m sure all other dog owners out there get similar questions and comments, but doesn’t it get tiring to here the same ones over and over again? The ones that really bug me are; “Don’t you think you guys have enough dogs?”, “I don’t know how you guys put up with all the hair…”, “you’ve got your hands busy there…”, Or “why do you bother? They’re just dogs…”. The first one and last one are the ones we get the most from family and friends and are the ones this entry will focus on.

As everyone knows, Huib and I are the proud guardians of four dogs and two cats. Each one has entered our lives at different points and each one has made a difference in their own way. Phoenix was already with me when I first began dating Huib so, when he retired there was no other possible choice than to keep him as our pet. I write a lot about Phoenix and how important he is and has been to making me who I am today, so I will not bore you with more on that. Next came Logan and Laya. Huib was living in a bachelor apartment during our second year of dating and was finding it lonely when Phoenix and I couldn’t come visit. He had only ever had a pet when he was really young, but had become accustomed to our presence so found it hard being alone at times. When his birthday came around, I decided to take him to the Guelph Humane Society and we’d pick out a kitten. We looked at several different options, but settled on a 10 week old female calico who had just been surrendered that morning. She was extremely friendly and just wanted to curl up in our arms and purr. A couple of months later, Huib decided that Logan needed a friend and that I should also have a kitten. We returned to the Guelph Humane Society around my birthday and we picked out a very fluffy little 10 week old female maine coon cross who had been hiding in the back corner of her cage. Laya has continued to be shy, but after a tense couple weeks of her fending off Phoenix’s attention, she began settling into our growing family. In the spring of 2003, Huib and I began talking about how we’d really like to get a golden retriever puppy. Huib really wanted me to wait until graduation, but when the settlement money finally came in from Mom’s malpractice suit she had started before her death, I decided it was the perfect time to get our new golden family member. We called a few different breeders who were listed in the Dogs Annual Magazine and settled on one from Hanover, Ontario. We had left a message on her answering machine inquiring about her prices and whether she had any puppies or was expecting a litter in the summer, so she called us back. She told us about: her dam and stud, where the puppies were born and whelped, what was included in her fees and then asked us to come out and meet everyone in a couple of weeks. Aspen and her litter had been about a week old at this point, so we ended up waiting about a month before we ventured out to pick out our little bundle. I’ve already explained the story of getting Aspen and how she has become Phoenix’s best friend, so I’ll end my discussion about her here. Cessna joined our family when Phoenix retired, so no real exciting background there, but if it weren’t for her I don’t think we would have fostered Aiden and Reece or decided to get Canyon. Phoenix and Aspen are both really laid back dogs, so we never really had to put much effort into keeping them happy or out of trouble. Cessna on the other hand has loads of energy and works best when regularly challenged. I know it’s not necessary to explain to you all why we have brought each one of our four-legged family members into our home, but it helps to give a little background to my explanation I often give to friends and family who ask if we think we have reached our limit.

Each one of our fur babies have come into our lives for a different reason and we don’t regret bringing any of them into our home. We do not actively search for new additions, but would never say we have reached our limit. We started out with Phoenix and didn’t think we would have the cats, let alone three additional dogs, but they are here. We may want to welcome an addition in the future, but that is for us to decide and is not something other people’s opinions will have any weight upon.

��As for the second most annoying question or comment, “Why bother? They’re just dogs.” To you they might “just” be dogs, but to us they are our family and if they enjoy learning new things, then why shouldn’t we take the opportunity to teach them and learn something new ourselves? Cessna loves to try new things and our working relationship improves when she’s happy, so why wouldn’t I try and teach her new skills or introduce her to something as fun as agility? Canyon is not even two years old so has a pretty empty slate on which I can create an all around talented companion, so why wouldn’t I want to do some training lessons now and competing in the future?

Does anyone else get bothered by friends and family who find it necessary to make comments about their choices in life?

A Little Improvement

Canyon and I had our second training session with the Border Collie lady and she seemed quite impressed with our work. Last week’s session wasn’t overly successful, so I had really tried to practice what she had taught us, so she wouldn’t think we were a waste of her time. Last week he was really distracted by all the smells left in the room by the other dogs before him and really didn’t seem interested in working for me. This week he was still a little distracted, but at least tried to pay attention to what we were asking him to try. I cut up a couple of chicken hot dogs and cheese strings, so I think he felt it was a little more worth his while. What really got his attention off the smells in the room though, was a small ball on a rope her husband was playing with, so she asked him to toss it over and we used that instead of the treats for some of the more difficult tasks.

This week we did a little more of the “touch” cue – not Canyon’s favourite – and then moved on to using his desire for whatever I had in my left hand to start teaching him a bit about the “heel” and where he was expected to be positioned. I’m not a huge fan of lure training, but Canyon doesn’t really offer many behaviours so if luring him works, I guess that’s what we’ll need to do until he understands what I am asking for. For getting him into the “heel” position, the Border Collie lady had me hold the little ball on a rope in my left hand and bring it from Canyon’s nose area (he was standing in front of me) to behind me, in sort of a counterclockwise circle motion so he’d turn his body and he’d end up straight at my hip – I hope this makes sense. He was quite excited to get a chance to play with the ball so eagerly followed my left hand into position. Once he was in position, she had me take a couple steps and then when she clicked I threw the toy for him to go fetch. I need to work on my positioning when I’m bringing him around my body, but otherwise we did quite well with this exercise. After a bit of “heel” work, we moved on to practicing some “down-stays” and “sit-stays.” Canyon’s “down-stays” are really good because we practice them while playing fetch so that Aspen and Cessna have a chance to retrieve as well, but his “sit-stays” need some work. For this part of the lesson we just used the hot dog and cheese because the toy had him too riled up.

I think that’s about all we worked on, but I thought we covered quite a lot in just 40 minutes. We meet her for half an hour after her classes on Tuesdays because of Huib’s work schedule, but she finds we cover more than she can in her full hour lessons.

I’m not sure what we’ll learn next week, but she has asked me to make a list of some of the things I’d really like to teach Canyon – any suggestions?

Where Did our Names Come From?

Our friends over at A Glacial Pace
inspired me to write an entry that explains where all of us – yes, me too – got our names.

When my mom was pregnant with me she had decided that my name would be Ashley if I was a girl or Jay if I was a boy. Well the day before the doctors decided I was coming out early, her hospital roommate gave birth to a boy and named him Ashley. I was born via c-section the following morning during the first snowstorm of 1979 and was rushed off to Toronto’s Sick Children’s Hospital for treatment. Just before the neonatal team took me away, my mom was asked what she wanted to name me and without too much thought she decided on Brooke, a character in a soap opera she enjoyed watching.

I’ll do Phoenix and Cessna together since they both came from the LFC and have a similar naming story. As Jess mentioned in her post
the Lions Foundation of Canada and many other guide dog programs name their dogs according to a letter of the alphabet. Phoenix is from the 1996 “P” litter and Cessna is from the 2003 “C” litter. I don’t know much about Phoenix’s siblings, but do know he had a brother named Piper who began training with him, but was eventually disqualified for being over active. Cessna on the other hand had 8 other siblings and actually graduated with three of them; china, Cole and Cicely. Another brother and sister, Chauncy and Cricket, graduated just a week before her in the Special Skills and Hearing Ear programs. The last three, Cheney, Cowan and Cooper were disqualified for unknown reasons. Even though Phoenix and Cessna were both named for the letter their births came to in their respective year, they both fit their names perfectly. Phoenix has always lived his life the way he chooses and seems to be the dog who will live forever. Cessna on the other hand is small and speedy like the airplane she was named after. Looking at both of them and knowing their personalities I don’t think I could think of more suitable names. Similar to other programs, the LFC does not reuse names (unless they are sponsored ones) until the dog is retired from duty or breeding. Since Phoenix’s retirement his name has been available for use, but so far I am happy to report that no other Phoenix has been able to fill his shoes.

We got Aspen when Phoenix was six and a half years old. He had begun to slow down and seemed disinterested in working, so a trainer suggested we get him a friend. When trying to decide on a name for our new golden princess we tossed around a few, options but could only really agree upon Autumn. Up until the day before I went to see her for the first time we had settled on this name, but during a late night shopping excursion overheard two teenagers discussing the names one of them had chosen for her unborn baby – Aspen. Both of us thought this was a pretty neat name and began to do a little research. The first thing we learned is that Aspen is the name of a tree commonly found in Colorado whose leaves turns a golden colour before they drop – suiting for a golden retriever right? Then we learned that Aspen is also the name of a city in Colorado where people go to ski. This information helped to make our decision because not only is Aspen a city in the US, but Phoenix (our only other dog at the time) is also the name of an american city and she was going to be his new best friend.

Even though I don’t mention them too much on the blog, we share our home with not only four dogs, but two cats as well; Logan and Laya. We adopted the girls from the Guelph Humane Society at the age of 10 weeks. Logan is a short haired female calico and Laya is a small, medium haired maine coon cross. Logan was named after a male black lab who I had met during my training with Gryphon. I had really wanted to be matched with Logan, but this did not happen and his name forever stuck in my mind as one I would someday name a pet of my own. We got Laya about two months after getting Logan and wanted to name her something girly because she was petite and so fluffy. Well, an older Star Wars movie was playing in the background while we worked on homework the night before we picked her up and we decided on the name Laya because of the Princess.

Logan sitting up tall and proud.

Laya sitting on the windowsill of our first apartment together, peaking out from behind the curtains.

Finally, there’s canyon. When we originally got him his name was Sparky – a terrible name!! Luckily he had no name recognition though, so changing it to a more suitable one was easy. When we had given Reece back and thought we were getting a new puppy to raise we had begun thinking of different names and were told that ADS had started using the alphabet to keep track of which puppies were donated when so our next puppy would be a “C”. We had thought of names like cobalt, Cloud, Charm and Coda, but just before we got the dreaded e-mail saying we were no longer needed, we thought of Canyon. This name stuck with us and after some research became our new golden boy’s name. canyon is the last name of one of Huib’s favourite country singers (George Canyon) and is also the name of a city in Texas. I know it’s silly, but we seem to enjoy naming our dogs for cities in the US because of our faithful, old yellow boy!!

So, there you have it! The naming stories behind all of the ruled by paws gang. What’s your story?

A Mishmash Of news

I haven’t really been posting any updates from our gang in a bit, so thought I’d better do one now.

Ever since we learned that Cessna is developing cataracts we’ve been discussing the option of raising and training her successor a little more. I am looking for a small yellow or black lab female who is energetic and willing to learn, but not necessarily please. So far we’ve been looking through the Labrador Owners Club website We prefer the more American style lab to the traditional English lines, so I’ve been getting Huib to look at the breeding stocks and letting me know his thoughts.

We’ve contacted:
Bluenorth Labradors
Cooperslane Kennel
Ironridge Labradors
MooseLake Labrador Retrievers
Pinebank Labrador Retrievers
Red Labrador Retrievers

Four of the six have already responded to our inquiry and I am liking Red Labrador Retrievers the most because not only is their stock the less common fox red colour, but they also do an aptitude test with their puppies to determine suitability for working, showing and/or companionship. I have asked them to send me a copy of their test and the pedigrees of their stock in an effort to learn even more. The other three who responded were not only asking about $200 to $500 more for their puppies, but their guarantees are only valid if we feed the puppy what they recommend. I am not in a huge rush to make a decision, so will continue sending out e-mails, because I don’t want to start the process until the fall or early winter when Cessna turns 8.

On another note, I have been in contact with a woman who has recently started an obedience/agility training program in Engelhart, which is about a 20 minute drive from our house. She has competed in agility for years with her boarder collies in the UK and has been competing in Canada for about three years now. Currently, she doesn’t have a building of her own, so she is renting a room in the fire hall for 3 hours, one day a week. Huib works a semi-rotating shift at the hospital so this sort of arrangement does not really work for us, but she has agreed to do a half hour private session after her classes every Tuesday. In the summer she will be setting up an agility course (when the snow leaves) so at that time I’m sure her availability will be a little more frequent. For now though, I’m going to meet with her every other Tuesday to work on some obedience with Canyon and then when the agility lessons begin, Cessna will join us. Huib and I are going to meet up with her for coffee on Thursday to learn a bit about her methods, but so far from reading through her website I’ve learned she uses clicker training. I’ll keep you all posted on how things go.

The rest of the news I have to share isn’t as interesting or exciting, but it’s got a cuteness factor. On Tuesday we drove down to London with the dogs so I could go for my lumbar puncture on Tuesday morning. We stayed with the same friends as our last visit and again the dogs had a good time. When we arrived it was pretty late, but we chatted for a bit before heading to bed and Jen told me the kids (she watches about 4-7 kids during the week) had gotten Phoenix a present. I wasn’t sure what to think, but when she came out of the kitchen she was carrying a little plastic teacup, saucer and spoon!! I guess she had taken a few of the kids shopping after letting them know Phoenix was coming to visit, so they asked if they could get him a present and showed her this little tea set – they’re so cute!! The following day while Huib, Cessna and I were away, Phoenix had his tea party and they even got pictures this time!

Here’s another cute little picture Jen got. She went into the play room to check on everyone and found Aspen curled up on top of a blanket with a teddy – I guess the kids thought she needed a nap…

On Thursday morning before we left I had to go see my doctor for the test results and the dogs again stayed with Jen. This time instead of cute pictures, I came hback to hear about how good my dogs had behaved. I guess she had gotten a new dishwasher delivered and while the repairman was going to grab some of his tools in the hallway by the elevator he left the door wide open and Jen just told the goldens to stay. When the guy returned he was amazed to see them still standing where he had last seen them. Then, just before we got back, she saw the goldens watching the crack under the door and noticed them following a shadow back and forth, so thought she’d open the door to let them see what was out there. Before opening the door she asked them to sit and stay. The landlord continued vacuuming for a bit and then stopped and commented on how well-behaved they were  I was so proud to hear this and was happy that they had listened to someone else giving them a command. Then to make our trip even cooler, before leaving for home, Jen decided to bring out one of her five bunnies for the dogs to check out. Cessna had been so interested in them the entire time, so my friend thought it was time to let them investigate. I wasn’t so sure this was a good idea, but am happy to report that Rue sustained no injuries or life-long trauma  Phoenix and Cessna followed her from room to room, while the goldens sniffed her and then lost interest. I think it would be really cool to have a bunny of our own, but am having trouble convincing Huib to say yes.

As you can see we’ve been pretty busy, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a little more time to update everyone on our adventures.

2011 Winter Fun!!

We finally found our camera and got a chance to load the pictures onto my laptop so here they are!

My friend’s 12 year old son came to visit for a couple weeks at Christmas and enjoyed using Aspen as his pillow for sleeping.

Caleb thought Canyon might want to share his crate, but he was wrong lol!

Here’s a couple pictures from my two night stay at the timmins & District Hospital. I was lucky to have my sister and Huib stay with me, so Cessna didn’t have to leave. she was such a good girl, sleeping on my bed in the Emergency Department the whole time.

Here’s a couple of pictures from our walks down the road near our house that only has someone living at the very end. The trail where these pictures were taken is a snowmobile trail just past the house.

the rest of the pictures are ones taken behind our house as we walk towards the lake which is about a 3-5 minute walk from our back door.

We were beginning to wonder where all the trees were going that had been cut down by beavers. the chunks of wood they leave behind are absolutely huge!

I wonder if they realize it’s the lake they’re standing on…

At Least Phoenix Is On the Mend

On Sunday, Huib and I piled the dogs into the truck for a short trip “down south”. We arrived in Guelph around noon and picked up some food and toys for everyone before meeting with the show handler who was interested in showing Canyon for us. The meeting went well and Peter was quite happy with Canyon’s looks, confidence and his ability to walk on a leash. We were surprised about the leash part since we had just begun his lessons, but Peter was impressed and wanted to enter him into the upcoming Sudbury show at the end of March. After the meeting we got back into the truck and headed into Kitchener.

There, we took Canyon and Cessna to a CERF clinic the Kitchener-Waterloo Kennel Club was hosting. We had originally signed up to have just canyon’s eyes tested, but when they learned Cessna was a dog guide we were told hers could be done for free. First Canyon went in and we were told he has scarring on his retinas. The ophthalmologist doesn’t think it is congenital, but he said we will need to do some research on that. He feels the scarring was most likely caused by an infection during the first few weeks of life and said that his litter mates will also have the scarring. Even though this does not officially bar Canyon from breeding, we have decided to forgo both showing and breeding because with this defect there is a very low chance another breeder would want to use him. Instead, we will work on some sporting and obedience titles while looking for our next breeding candidate.

After this disheartening news, it was Cessna’s turn. The ophthalmologist dilated her eyes and found 2 tiny cataracts on her left eye and three on her right. This particular doctor is one of the ones LFC uses to test their puppy’s at 10 months of age so he was well aware of the demands I put on Cessna. He showed Huib the cataracts and told us that they are tiny so Cessna probably doesn’t even notice them and her work will not be effected. He wants to see her in a year and thinks there is a possibility the cataracts won’t get any bigger. We saw our vet the following day and she recommended we start her on a homeopathic regiment and try to prevent them from getting worse. There’s no guarantees it will do anything, but it would bother me even more if I didn’t do it and it could have worked.

Phoenix saw the vet on Monday and was given a clean bill of health for his age. Dr B was impressed with his progress and has given him a homeopathic remedy to try and jump start his immune system and hopefully rid him of the ear issue for good. In order to check him out and watch him move she had him examined in the waiting room because he was able to walk on carpet for traction and seemed to stay quite calm and relaxed. I’m so glad she was able to tell us something good, because I’m not sure I could handle anymore bad news in a 24 hour period. After the appointment we took him to see his puppy raisers and they were also quite happy with his progress. The last time they had seen him was just before we took him to dr b for the IVD diagnosis. Huib had carried him in and I explained what had happened and what we were most afraid of learning – that we may have to say good-bye.

On Tuesday it was my turn to see the ophthalmologist and I also learned some not so happy news – my distance vision is gone. The doctor’s assistant asked me to read various lines on the eye chart and I couldn’t read even the biggest letter. The doctor isn’t sure why this has happened, but has ordered a lumbar puncture to be done in a week and is checking to make sure there is no inter cranial pressure or infection. This is yet another part of my vision saga. While we were at the hospital, Phoenix, Aspen and Canyon stayed with a friend and her daycare kids. My friend said Aspen and Canyon weren’t overly interested in them, but Phoenix wandered into the playroom at some point and when she went to check on everything she found him in the circle of little ones with a teacup and saucer between his paws. I guess the kids decided he should participate in their tea party – I sure wish my friend had gotten a picture! I guess they had tried doing the same with Canyon, but he wouldn’t stay still, so decided to let Phoenix in on the fun.

We headed home that evening and made a stop in Bradford to see my friend Heather, her fiance and her border terrier Harley. The dogs enjoyed playing with Harley’s rawhide bones and ran around in the yard, but Harley wasn’t as sure – I guess she was a little overwhelmed by the number of big dogs that came into the house. Overall our trip “down south” was crappy, but at least we got a chance to see friends and find out how Phoenix is doing.

Pedigree

This entry has been revised after receiving a comment which pointed out that a statement made previously was unproven – thank you for making me aware of this discrepancy.

On Monday I received an e-mail from Canyon’s sire’s breeder to inform me that she had put all of his information on K9data a website that helps a breeder look at a registered golden or labrador’s pedigree. I had learned about this website a few months ago when researching golden retriever breeders and was hoping that once I received the transfer paperwork for Canyon from the Canadian Kennel Club that I’d be able to enter Canyon’s information. If you are interested in looking at it, you can GO HERE. I’m excited about this development because it means we’re just one step closer to fulfilling our dream of having canyon perform stud services.

After getting this e-mail I began thinking about pedigree and how important it is to look at when considering the breeding process. I was looking at the Blackpool Golden Retrievers website and they give a checklist of things to consider or ask when looking at a kennel or potential puppy. In this checklist they explain that some breeders will try and hide their dog’s lineage in order to hide inbreeding or that they might have gotten their dogs from puppy mills, so to look for breeders who list their dog’s pedigree on their websites. Blackpool sites k9data as a place where they have registered their stock and explain that you can not only find their dog’s lineage, but also their longevity and health clearances.

In an earlier post I discussed the theory behind line breeding so I won’t do it again here, but from my research on the effects of inbreeding on a line, it has been found that the progeny often become weak, small and timid. Some breeders will use this method to fix a specific trait, but given the results, I see line breeding as a much more effective method for fixing traits.

I’m not sure what brought me to write this entry, but I guess all this excitement surrounding Canyon’s paperwork finally arriving and now having him registered on k9data has just got me interested even more on learning all I can about the breeding process. I’ll close this post by saying;

Pedigree equals Quality – Reputable breeders follow a set of breed standards (set by the Canadian Kennel Club in Canada) in order to ensure the best quality dogs go on to be the parents of the next generation.