She Did What?

Last night, Arizona returned to field training. She’s been off for three weeks, first because of the hot weather and then because she finally had her first heat.

We have continued to practice retrieves over the past few weeks, but you never know what is going to happen at the group training.

Susie was away at the cottage, so Laura worked with us while Dean and Maverick worked alone in another area.

We first attempted to do some simple land retrieves. Laura went out into the field while I got Arizona to sit beside me and ‘mark’ (or look out to see what’s happening), then Laura made a duck call and tossed the bumper with the wing attached. I then let go of Ari’s collar and said ‘fetch’.

Arizona ran straight over to Laura, then to the bumper. She then brought the bumper to Laura instead of bringing it back to me. After getting her excited about the bumper again, Laura got her to pick it up again and I called her back. She came. This same sort of cycle happened a few more times, with Arizona going to a shaded tree behind me to wait for me to coax her out again, so we knew it was time to try something new.

Even though it was 6:00pm it was still quite warm.

As part of the Working Certificate (WC) test, the dogs have to do two land retrieves and two water retrieves.

We’ve been working on the land retrieves for months, not wanting to introduce the water retrieve until Arizona was working perfectly on land.

With the hot weather we decided to try some water work.

I walked to the edge of the pond while Laura walked part way around it. I had Ari sit and ‘mark’. Laura did the duck call and then tossed the bumper into the water. As I released Arizona’s collar, I said ‘fetch’.

She ran into the water and swam directly to Laura, ignoring the bumper. So Laura tossed another bumper into the water, hoping that would entice Ari to go for it – not happening!

I had Rogue with me, not a usual occurrence, because we had been at a meeting and Huib picked us up with just enough time to get to training.

Rogue had been watching Ari “have fun” and she wanted to “have fun” too. She was excited while watching her do the land retrieves, but the water work had her whining loudly. Rogue does not like the water, so to us this was pretty strange. But, since Ari wasn’t retrieving the bumpers and they needed to be brought back in, we decided to see if maybe Rogue could create a bit of competition.

With Ari’s refusal to retrieve we have been told to try a force retrieve (pinching her ear), and with her sometimes slow recall we’ve told to try a shock collar. Both of these methods are not ones we’re willing to consider though, there are so many other options out there.

Like a little bit of friendly doggie competition.

I let Rogue off the leash and she bolted directly for the water. She ran in and as soon as she realized she could no longer touch the bottom she started to panic. This didn’t stop her though, she wanted to get to that bumper, so after a few false starts, she finally stopped panicking and swam out to the bumpers. She brought the first one in and dropped it at Huib’s feet. Then she turned and went back into the water for the other.

While she was doing this Arizona swam along side, only trying to get the second one off her.

We then spent 20 minutes tossing the bumpers into the pond and having Rogue and Arizona compete for them, returning them to Huib for treats.

Once Ari seemed to be getting the hang of it, I held Rogue and Huib worked with Ari, tossing the bumper a short distance from where he had her sit. She ran into the water without an issue, but it took a few attempts before she finally started swimming out and bringing the bumper back to Huib. A few times she gave up, so I would let Rogue go out a few times, before holding her again.

We worked on water retrieves for probably 30-45 minutes total and by the end I think both girls had a pretty good grasp of the concept.

We then decided to try some land retrieves again. Arizona did two almost perfect retrieves, just taking it back to Laura at first, but then turning to bring it back to me in the end.

Laura thinks that because we’ve been working so much with her bringing the bumper back to the person who threw it, that when she’s at field training and the “Gunner” throws it, Arizona thinks she needs to return the bumper to whoever tossed it.

While this was happening Rogue stood with me watching intently.

Once Ari was finished, I decided to do a couple practices with Rogue and she was freaking perfect!

Rogue has never done field work training, she’s only watched us work with Arizona. Just like in conformation, where she learned by watching Canyon, Rogue has learned field by watching Arizona.

I think I might start bringing Rogue with me to group field classes, maybe she can get her WC. I think we are also going to start bringing Ari to rogue’s tracking lessons so we can do some field work afterwards.

The ability to do whatever activities with my dog is one of the highlights of deciding to owner-train, rather than go to a program for a guide dog.

I think Laura had just as much fun as we did watching Rogue figure things out, and teach Ari about water retrieves.


Now that my final grades are in, I am officially done the coursework portion of my masters degree!!

It was a tough semester, full of migraines and times when I didn’t want to write, but I made it through with some great marks.

My thesis supervisor would like me to consider taking two more courses just in case I decide to forgo the thesis and just do a major research project. I know I want to do the thesis so I’m sticking to my decision not to take more for now.

Since my thesis topic is heating up in the media and on the web, I need to rethink my methods for gathering data. I think I will spend the rest of May reading about research methods that use social media and blogs. Then once I feel really comfortable with my new methods, I need to write something up for my presentation in July.

Oh yeah!! I haven’t told you all.

I have been accepted to do a poster presentation at the 24th Annual Conference of the International Society of Antrozoology. The conference will take place in Saratoga Springs, New York July 7th to 9th. I could have waited to see if they had room for me to do an oral presentation, but since I did one in March, my supervisor and I agreed this would be a good opportunity to learn about doing a poster.

I will try to update everyone on my research progress as I go along.


On the 14th, I was invited to present at a student conference at the University of Guelph.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Making the Familiar Strange in the Social World.” The keynote speaker was Dr. Thomas McIlwrath.

The various presentations were broken down into sessions of four or five presenters. The morning and afternoon had two sessions of three choices.

I was the fourth presenter in my session and had another student follow me. When it was my turn, Huib set up my computer for the powerpoint and Rogue came with me to the podium.

I was SO freaking nervous!!! I was honestly on the verge of tears, so thankfully no one told me to speak louder or I would have probably started blubbering. I’ve never been so nervous and I didn’t even know you could be nervous enough to cry.

the talk went well. I spoke clearly and didn’t miss anything. Huib said he could hear the quiver in my voice, but that he felt I did really well. I had to keep repositioning Rogue throughout, so Huib suggested I stop next time and fix her so that I’m not having to do it over and over. In Rogue’s defence, I think she sensed my nervousness and wanted to take me back to where Huib was sitting. The only other thing that went wrong was that I got disoriented in where I was supposed to look and even though my body faced the group, I was looking towards the wall, lol!!

My powerpoint consisted of pictures of my dogs as puppies and in their working gear. I had pictures of Cessna, Aiden, Reece, Rogue and Arizona. I also had various screen shots of recent media coverage of service dog issues.

I memorized my entire presentation – it was just over 12 minutes long. I introduced myself and explained why I was interested in the topic. I gave a brief introduction of animal-assisted intervention and eased people into the world of service dogs. Then discussed my research questions and methods.

Once the presentation was over, I was asked questions from two different people. One person asked me about the methods I have chosen and how I planned to get participants for my interviews and focus groups. The other person asked me about the theory I planned to use as a guide for my research. I answered the first question pretty easily, but the second was tougher. I am planning to use critical disability theory. I understand the theory itself, but I didn’t know how to expand that knowledge to answer the person’s question regarding why I chose that theory.

Even though I was really stressed out about this conference and about presenting, I’m glad I did it.

For anyone who is interested, here is a copy of the long program for the conference. It gives you the abstracts of the various presentations. Mine is in the session titled Grab Bag.

Engage Program 2015_Long


On Thursday afternoon I got an email to say I have been accepted into the 2-year thesis program!

In the Department of Health, Aging and Society at McMaster University, they ask students to submit a 3 page thesis proposal before they will allow them to choose the 2-year option.

There are two options in the masters program, a 1 year major research project option and a 2 year thesis option.

Out of the approximately 15 masters students in my year, only 4 of us want to do the 2 year thesis option, and as far as I know, all of us were accepted.

I am interested in the changing classification of dogs, specifically service dogs, as they are being used more and more in assisting people with health and disability. I want to know how a service dog should be defined.

This summer I will begin to look at the literature in the area. then I will need to figure out who I want to interview and start the tedious process of data collection.

I am SO excited to finally be given the chance to conduct research in an area I am passionate about.

Goodbye 2014

2014 is about to come to an end.

And, what a year it has been…

Here are some of the highlights:
We bought a house
Aiden came to visit for 10 days
Huib was promoted to Assistant Director of Nursing at the Village of Riverside Glen
I was accepted into the Health and Aging masters program at McMaster University
Rogue passed the Assistance Dogs International Public Access Test in May
Arizona joined our family in July
Rogue and I started graduate school in September
Canyon earned another point towards his Canadian Championship title in October
Cessna officially retired from guide work

We can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for us.

From all of us at ruled by paws, have a very safe and happy new year!

Caledon Kennel Association: Way to Go Boys!

Shows and more shows…

Arizona and Canyon were entered into all three days of the Caledon Kennel Association conformation dog show at the International Centre. Normally we don’t like doing three days straight, but it was Arizona’s first opportunity to earn points, so we thought it was good experience.

Unfortunately, the judges did not like our Wild Child. She did not do too badly in the ring, but at all three shows she got last place. It was sort of close at the final show, but when the judge asked Huib if Arizona was out of coat, he knew it wasn’t going to end well.

Arizona is from a working/field line, so her coat isn’t as showy as most of the golden retrievers she is competing with. The fur on her body is pretty close to the same length as Canyon’s, but she doesn’t have the fox-like tail or the long feathers on the backs of her legs like he does. I am hoping her feathers will continue to fill in and grow longer, but I’m not sure she’ll ever blow the judges away with her looks.

Now, if she was being judged on personality…..I think she’d be bringing home the rosettes, lol!

The first day of showing wasn’t really Canyon’s day, he lost to a dog named Pro.

The next two days of showing went much better. He beat Pro on the Saturday and then beat pro and another male the Sunday. There were 30 golden retrievers entered at this show, so when he went in to compete for winner’s dog, it was definitely not happening.

It is really encouraging to see that judges like him though. It makes me optimistic that maybe he might still have the opportunity to finish his Canadian Championship. He has 6 points so far, and needs just 4 more.

In addition to his time with Huib in the ring, Canyon also did some Junior Handling with our little friend, Kira. There were a lot more girls entered at this show, so our golden boy and his buddy didn’t do well. At the end of the final day, Huib and Kira went to ask the judge for suggestions on things to work on. She told Kira that there really wasn’t anything, that the other girls were just a bit better.

I really hope Kira doesn’t get too discouraged by her experience so far. I think she did really well and she has her own show leash/collar, which is bright pink, so she can’t give up yet,right?

Our next show will be at the end of December: the Elora Gorge Kennel Club show and the Southwestern All Retriever Specialty.

Stay tuned for more showing adventures.

Georgina Kennel & Obedience Club: Second Place

The Georgina Kennel & Obedience Club had a show on November 9th.

Our friend, Amy, was entering her four month old dalmatian, Trinity, so we thought we’d enter Canyon and Arizona.

amy and Trinity walking around the ring

Trinity was the only Dalmatian entered, so after doing a quick walk around the ring, they went straight to the group judging. Unfortunately for Trinity, there was an adorable baby French bulldog, so of course the baby Dal lost.

Trinity lies on her blanket waiting for Canyon and Arizona to finish

Arizona and Canyon weren’t scheduled to enter the ring for a couple of hours after Trinity, so we spent time chatting and walked around the various booths. we bought Canyon a gorgeous blanket for his kennel and we looked at some cloth underwear for Arizona to wear when she is in heat. The woman didn’t have any in her size though, so we’re going to see if she is at the next show and pick up a few pairs to try. they are only $15 and have adorable patterns, like rubber duckies!

Around noon Huib and I walked over to the obedience area to see if we could find a couple that has 3 dogs from taygold.

ellie and Dave have: Fracas, Gyro and their newest edition, Shine.

Guess what?!

Shine is Arizona’s brother! It was so neat to meet one of Arizona’s brothers away from the breeder. I also loved talking to Ellie and Dave. They told us that Shine has been their toughest puppy from Taygold to raise. They told us about his first month of screaming in the crate and about all of the wild activities he’s done. It was such a relief to know that we aren’t alone and that even seasoned Taygold owners, whose dogs are freaking amazing in the obedience ring, were finding their Abba puppy tough to manage. I was really hoping to have a chance to let Arizona and Shine play together, but we had to run to the conformation side and they had to get ready to do some more obedience with Fracas and Gyro.

As a quick aside, Fracas earned his 89th High in Trial at the show!!

Meeting them has really sparked my interest in doing some obedience and stuff with Arizona. I feel as though I would be cheating her if I didn’t at least try it out.

Once it was our turn to enter the show ring, I held Arizona and Canyon went with Huib. Canyon did fabulously and we totally thought he was going to win, but at the last moment the judge picked the other dog. Who went on to lose to the Open dog.

Huib and Canyon walk around the ring

the judge checks out Canyon's back

when it was Arizona’s turn, Huib traded leashes with me and they were off.

Huib and Arizona walk around the ring

Arizona did pretty well. she needs to learn to keep her head forward when she’s walking and she needs to learn to stay still longer than a few seconds, but overall she did pretty well for her second time in the ring.

Huib and Arizona stand with the other two baby females and their handlers

And, as a bonus…she got second place out of three baby puppy females!

The judge checks out Arizona's head

Hopefully our next show goes as well or even better for her and our candyman. they are entered in the Caledon Kennel Association show at the end of November. Arizona will be competing as a Junior Puppy for the first time and able to earn real points. Canyon just needs 4 more before he will earn his Canadian Championship, so please keep your fingers crossed for them. We got our show listings and there are around 24 golden entered the first day and around 30 the other two days, it’s going to be a very tough competition, but who knows what could happen.

Canyon will also be doing some Junior Handling with Kira again on the Saturday and Sunday, so that’s pretty neat.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Elgin County Kennel Club: Winner’s Dog

Our final day of showing was a little more successful than the first.

We didn’t have to bathe or trim the goldens and we weren’t scheduled to enter the ring until at least 10:30am, so we got to sort of sleep in.

When we arrived, we touched up each of the dogs and then went to find a spot to hang out. We found a spot relatively close to ring-side, so we were able to watch the group progression.

When it was Canyon’s turn, I stayed with Arizona and our bag, while Kira went with Huib so that she could take some pictures and give me updates on how they were doing.

They did awesome. first they did their thing in the Canadian Bred Dog class showing, where they were the only ones, so they used it as their warm-up. then they went on to beat the Open Dog for Winner’s Dog.

Canyon Stacked for Best of Breed - October 19, 2014

Next, it was time to compete against at least 7 other goldens for Best of Breed. We knew it was a long shot with there being 3 male Specials competing, so we weren’t too upset when he lost. he did his best and had a good time.

And, the bonus is, he got one more point towards his Canadian Championship, meaning he just needs 4 more.

Close up of Arizona - October 18, 2014

While this was happening, I was busy trying to keep the Wild Child entertained. As time went on, she got more and more restless. I tried to get her to play with a few toys, no go. I gave her a lint roller and that kept her busy for a while. But, she got even more restless near the end, so when Kira came over to see how we were, I asked if she’d take Arizona for a quick walk up and down the nearby aisle.

Turns out it was a good idea I did because on their way back towards me, Arizona had a gigantic poop!! Kira was SO embarrassed!! She asked a guy to help her and he frantically looked for someone to clean it up. During his mission to find someone, two people stepped in it!! Then, finally someone carried a flower pot over and put it beside the pile, so hopefully no one else would step in it.

After a few minutes of waiting for the guy to return, Kira gave up and ran back to me with Arizona. She was just in time for Huib to exchange Canyon for Ari.

Arizona Walks Around the Ring - October 19, 2014

Arizona made her debut as a Baby Puppy. She did quite well. She was beat by the boy baby puppy, but he was also a month older, so we won’t hold it against her.

Arizona Gets Examined by the Judge - October 19, 2014

We have some work to do with her, but overall I thought her debut went quite well.

to give her and Huib another chance to practice before she becomes eligible to begin earning points, we have entered her as a Baby Puppy in the Georgina Kennel & Obedience Club show on November 9th.

This time we will remember not to feed her before the show 😉

Keith Urban

Brooke & Rogue posing in front of the Tiger Cats logo. Brooke is on one knee, wearing white jeans, a black hooded Roots sweatshirt, white roots baseball cap and black leather sandals, while Rogue is standing beside her in her red harness.

Last night Rogue and I went to see Darius Rucker and Keith Urban with Huib and our friend Sam. The new Tiger Cats stadium was opening in Hamilton and it was a pretty big event. The stadium was SO busy and loud, apparently there were like 20,000 people expected. Rogue was an absolute champ the entire evening. She walked beside me calmly when Huib guided me through the huge crowds, she guided me with confidence up and down the various stairs we needed to climb for our seats and during the concert, she slept under our chairs, where barely anyone noticed her. She wasn’t the only guide dog at the concert either, Huib saw a woman in the accessible seating area with her yellow lab guide that wore a brown harness. We chose not to sit in accessible seating because in my opinion it’s better not to use it if you don’t really need it – which I do not.

The concert was awesome. Darius Rucker played a lot of his newer stuff and a bit of his stuff from when he was with Hootie and the Blowfish. He has such an awesome sounding voice. Keith Urban was better though. He was so into making sure the crowd had a good time and interacted with as many people as he could. Even though Huib and I Originally weren’t too thrilled on going to see him, we are glad we did, he was just that good!

With this concert, Rogue has now attended 4 concerts and one musical. I’m not sure what our next adventure will be, but I’m sure it won’t be too far away.

Our First Day

I am now a graduate student!

On Monday, Rogue and I started our new adventure at McMaster University.

Rogue and I walk up concrete stairs. You can just see our backs and you can tell that Rogue is happy because her tail is sticking straight out.

I am doing my masters in the Department of Health, Aging and Society. This semester I am taking two classes and leading two tutorials. I am pretty nervous about all of the upcoming changes, but as long as I have my Roga-Monster by my side, I think I’ll be okay.

We got lost a few times our first couple days, but no matter what happened, Rogue did her job well and kept us safe. It will probably take me a few weeks to become comfortable with the various routes around campus, but as long as Rogue does her job, then I will work hard at doing mine.

If nothing else, this week has been amazing for Rogue and I. Having to learn to navigate a large, extremely busy campus has forced us to trust one another and Rogue has risen to the challenge. This week, she has shown me how ready she is to finally take over fully from Cessna – now we just need to convince Cessna that she is ready to hand over the reins.