Whirlwind Travelers

Last week, as you all may have guessed, we packed up the dogs and headed to Southwestern Ontario.

Our first stop was Huntsville where we stayed Thursday night and spent some time with my step-dad. My sister had to work, so Huib and I took her a coffee and visited for a few minutes with her, but otherwise we didn’t really get a chance to see her much.

Friday morning we packed up the Expedition once more, and headed towards Windsor, making stops in Etobicoke to see Phoenix’s foster family and Guelph to drop off Aspen with Kelly and pick up Canyon’s new show leash. Phoenix’s foster family are doing well. Ray is still getting the occasional chemo treatment for the bladder cancer the doctors found over a year ago, but otherwise they are healthy and happy. In Guelph we did a little shopping at Ren’s because we had forgotten to get some smelly treats for Huib to use with Canyon in the ring and the dogs always need a new toy, right? The treats we chose this time were wild rabbit flavor ones by Zuke’s. Canyon absolutely loved them and we were able to get a larger bag, so have enough leftover for the Chatham show. After picking up the treats and a little stuffed bunny that squeaks, we drove to Kelly’s house and had some pizza and garlic bread.

Canyon’s show leash is beautiful! It has black, tan and reddish colour kangaroo leather braided together with beads in three different spots. Huib ordered it from a woman in Victoria British Columbia (Hitide Creations) who makes only show leashes.

After dinner, and once we knew Aspen was settled, we piled the other three dogs into the truck and headed to Windsor. It was a long day of driving, so we were relieved to finally reach our hotel room and crash.

Saturday morning we woke up around 5:30am and began our pre-show routine. First Huib took Canyon and Rogue for a walk. Then he put Canyon into the tub and began scrubbing and rinsing with lavender scented baby shampoo. On the first day, we usually always use baby shampoo since it’s cheap and does an awesome job at getting rid of all the dirt and odours from Canyon’s coat while still keeping it shiny and silky smooth. After the bath, Huib began to blow dry Canyon, which was totally not a happy time for the golden boy. First he tried jumping onto the bed beside me and hoped that I wouldn’t make him get off and return to Huib – but of course I did lol! Then he tried moving around, so that Huib would run out of cord length and stop, but that also did not work. We have to blow dry him so that we can comb his fur flat while it dries, or it tends to be a little wavy. Once his fur was three quarters of the way dry and his ears, tail and feet were trimmed, Huib gave him some banana bread the hotel had provided with their continental breakfast and took some time to get dressed himself. About an hour before the show began we piled everyone back into the Expedition and headed to St. Clair College’s gymnasium where the event took place.

Saturday afternoon we did some shopping at the Columbia outlet store and then met up with my friend Kris, his wife Tania and their daughter Olivia. I have not seen Kris in over six years so it was really nice to see him again. We used to go to the University of Guelph together and had regular movie dates until he moved to Windsor about ten years ago. We had left Cessna and Canyon at the hotel and just taken Rogue out shopping and for dinner, so it was a good opportunity for her to work around a young child. Olivia wasn’t totally sure about Rogue, but after a bit started to play with her and Rogue really enjoyed the attention.

Sunday morning we woke up a little later because Canyon’s ears, feet and tail had already been trimmed so he only needed the bath and blow dry. This time we bathed him with NuHemp’s moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, so that his coat didn’t get too dried out from the frequent bathing. We also decided to show up at the college half an hour before the start of the show since it was pretty busy and there really wasn’t a lot of room for us to move around. After his dismal showing, we began making our way back to Guelph – making stops in Cambridge to pick up some stuff at the Pet Smart and Kitchener to look for a black tie for Huib.

Kelly had dinner plans, so Huib and I got pizza and then treated ourselves to ice cream at Marble Slab Creamery. I had never been to this particular ice cream shop so had a tough time picking out which ice cream and topping I really wanted. Huib got white chocolate ice cream with bits of coffee crisp mixed into it, while I got cheesecake ice cream with Reese peanut butter pieces mixed in – it was delicious!

On Monday I had my appointment in London with the pain clinic. I was really hoping that they would be able to suggest something to resolve my constant migraine issues, but it ended up being a total waste of my time. First they had us fill out a 20 or more page questionnaire that asked questions about the types of headaches I was having, what sorts of symptoms each had, how long they lasted, how often they occurred, whether I lived my life around the ability to take pain medications, what medications I had or are taking, and a bunch of other questions I cannot remember. I’m thinking the questionnaire was meant to weed out people who are addicted to pain medications and that could be dealing with withdrawal symptoms. After the clinic nurse had taken my blood pressure and oxygen level, we were escorted into an examination room, where I was instructed to remove all of my clothing and put on a hospital gown. A medical student then came in to do a neurological exam.

He had me:
• Follow his finger with my eyes;
• Look straight ahead while he looked into the back of my eyes with a light;
• Touch his finger and then my nose;
• Raise my shoulders and not allow him to push them downwards;
• Tell him if I felt the same sensation on both sides of my feet, face and hands when he touched them with a semi-sharp object;
• Move my chin to my chest and then towards each shoulder; and
• Tell him if it hurt when he put pressure on various parts of my head.

I’m sure I missed some of the things he asked me to do, but I’m sure you get the point. After the neurological examination, he left the room to get the doctor while I got dressed. The doctor came in and pretty much just said he would send my family doctor a list of three different preventative medications he thinks I should try and that he doesn’t see any other reason for my headaches. He also eluded to the fact that some of my headaches could be withdrawal symptoms, so I decided to go a week without any medications at all and see where I got pain wise. I am now on day five and nothing really seems to have changed, except that I am tired and the pain is still the same as usual.

After the appointment, we left the building and walked over to the CNIB, which just happened to be across the road. I got my CNIB card renewed and then toured the gift shop, but found nothing that really interested me.

When we got back to Guelph we were so happy to see Rogue again. I had decided to give her to my friend Kelly for the day so that she could experience university life, and work a bit with someone else. Kelly said that her leash manners were horrible, which we already knew, and that she settled well in her classes, but that she seemed nervous of random people (no barking though) and of different spots in her classroom building. We weren’t completely surprised about her nervousness around random people, but we didn’t really understand her reactions to different spots in kelly’s classroom building. She said she had trouble walking through doorways and this shocked us because it was not something she had ever shown nervousness around before.

Since Kelly had to do some school work, Huib and I decided to take Rogue out to dinner with some friends at Eastside Marios. She was awesome. She fell asleep beside my chair without an issue, and when we first arrived she thought my friend’s boyfriend’s feet needed to be cleaned. After dinner we asked my friend’s boyfriend to greet Rogue and she showed absolutely no fear of him – good girl! We then all decided to walk over to the mall across the road to do a bit of shopping and grab a tea from a specialty tea shop. At the mall Huib got Rogue to approach a manikin and she showed no fear, but checked its hand to see if there might be a treat – silly girl! My friend also approached a couple of guys and asked if they would come and greet Rogue, which they did and Rogue thought this was great! Before leaving the mall we each picked out a tea and then drank them as we walked back to our vehicles – I got a chocolate mint one.

On Tuesday we packed up our Expedition and then left the goldens at Kelly’s house while Huib, Rogue, Cessna and I went to meet up with Carin, Steve and Trixie for lunch. It was great to see them because it had been such a long time. We talked about old times, we updated one another on people we both knew, and we laughed every time Rogue decided to lick Steve’s feet. After lunch Huib and I went back to Kelly’s house to pick up the goldens and then made the three hour drive back to Huntsville. We decided to stop in Huntsville again to stay overnight because it seemed to break up the long drive nicely. The only issue was that my sister was in a horrible mood so it was a bit tense and unpleasant, but my step-dad tried his best to be a good host.

On Wednesday morning we (with the addition of my step-dad) started our long journey back to the north and have been relaxing ever since.

Sorry for the long post, but I thought I’d share our journey with you all.

P.S. While we were driving to Huntsville the first day, I got a really unexpected call… An adoption worker from Child and Family Services called to set up a meeting to get to know us! I am really excited about this development and will keep you all posted.

Windsor Show: Not White Enough

Sorry for the late update on how Canyon did on his final day at the Windsor show.

We had an Ontario judge and it did not go so well. As I mentioned in my previous post, all of the golden retrievers at this show except for Canyon were completely white, and it seems as though judges in Ontario like the white goldens over the not so white ones. Personally, I do not like the white ones as much as I like the medium coloured goldens (like Canyon).

Huib and Canyon were automatically given a first place ribbon for the Canadian Bred Dog category, but then got dead last (or third place) for the Winners Dog competition. It was interesting because the Ontario judge ranked Canyon and the other two males in the completely opposite order that the judge from Malaysia had done on Saturday.

Huib and Canyon have entered a show in Chatham next month, so I will be sure to update you all on how they do. I’m also going to call the Canadian Kennel club next week to find out how many points Canyon achieved for his Best of Breed win and will update everyone when I receive my answer.

Windsor Show: Best Of Breed

Today was Canyon’s first day at the Windsor All Breed Conformation Show.

He was the only dog entered into the Canadian Bred Category so automatically ended up with a first place ribbon there. He then went on to compete against the only dog entered into the Open Category and the winning dog from the 12-18 month olds category. he won Winner’s Dog!

Next, Huib and Canyon competed against the Winner’s Bitch and we’re thinking a Champion (not sure if it was male or female though). He came out with Best of Breed!

After Best of Breed, Canyon went on to compete for Best of Group, but none of the retrievers (curly coated, labrador, flat coats, etc.) made it into the top three so our day ended there.

We aren’t sure how many, if any, points Canyon earned from his wins, but have called his co-breeder and are hoping she’ll call us back with the details.

Canyon needs to work a bit on his free stacking, but overall, I think we can conclude that today was a very good day!

Another Show

Huib and Canyon are entering the show ring once again.

This coming weekend is the Windsor all Breed Training & Tracking clubs show.

We received our preliminary schedule and it looks as though there are only four male golden retrievers entered. I’m not sure how many of the four (other than Canyon) are entered into the Canadian Bred Dog category, but even if he is the only one, we’ll still have fun because there’s a higher chance of him going on to compete for best of breed.

The only problem with the low number is that if he did move on, he probably won’t end up with many, if any, points towards his Canadian Championship title.

Our judge for Saturday is from Malaysia and the Sunday one, once judged Canyon’s sire and gave him Reserve Winner’s Dog, so we’ll hope for good results.

I will try and post updates here during the evening hours.

**We have reached a milestone! This is entry number 300!!**

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

This past week Huib and I watched a movie on television called the Memory Keeper’s Daughter. It’s about a doctor and his wife who have fraternal twins, a “healthy” son and a daughter who has Downs Syndrome. The doctor had a sister with Downs Syndrome that only lived to be twelve years of age, so remembering the agony his mother went through after her death, he decides to tell his wife that their daughter did not survive. He asks one of the nurses in the delivery room to take the infant to a home for the mentally ill, but the nurse ends up keeping the child, and raising her.

I was so angry watching the movie. To think that such practices existed troubled me. I am not naive. I know this happened and still happens today. But, it really bothered me.

Huib and I are in the process of completing a home study to adopt through Child and Family Services. We began this process almost two years ago with the goal of first fostering and then adopting, but given the obstacles of my visual impairment, we’ve decided to just adopt.

The worker who is doing our home study is great. She asks a lot of questions about how I will do this or that with my visual limitations, but she’s honest about the reasons for her questions and is quite willing and eager to learn.

It’s exasperating to know that people still think individuals with disabilities cannot successfully raise children, but I also recognize that there are people out there who should not be doing so and understand why the questions are asked.

Huib and I are close to finishing our home study and should know by May whether or not we are accepted. We are hoping to adopt a young child around three years of age or younger, so know that it will take time for the right child to enter our lives. From what the worker has said, it is quite rare for children as young as we’d like, to come into care and go up for adoption in this area (which is a good thing), but she has said that other agencies will also have our information on hand.

Now that all of our background checks, reference checks and basic interviews are done, Huib and I need to start child-proofing our home so the worker can give the agency the all-clear. It’s kind of strange to know that we have to spend the time child-proofing before we even know whether or not we are officially accepted, but then I’m sure the worker would have told us by now whether or not it’s not going to happen.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter angered me so much because Huib and I would love to have a child of our own, but due to unforeseen circumstances this is not going to happen, so to see someone give up their child because of idiocy is just infuriating.

Huib and I would never consider such a heartless act, and would love to adopt a child with special needs.

A Snowy Walk

Today I had a migraine so Huib decided to take the dogs for a four kilometre walk in the snow.

Married Six Years

Today Huib and I celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary.

I feel as though I’ve written everything possible about our wedding and can’t really think of anything new to add, so I thought I’d share six pieces of advice that have made our relationship work.

I’ll tell you now, our relationship is not perfect by any means, but these are some of the most important pieces of advice we were ever given.

1. Never go to bed angry.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
3. Never let a problem become to big to handle.
4. It’s not always necessary to be right. It’s okay to compromise.
5. Make sure to take time to just enjoy one another’s company.
6. Dinner doesn’t have to be on the table when you get home from work. We live in a time of shared responsibilities.

LOL, I made up the last one because some of the other pieces of advice we were offered aren’t really PG.

but in all seriousness, the other five I listed were given to us by some pretty amazing couples, so hopefully by following them we can be just as wonderful.

The past six years have been wonderful beyond my wildest dreams, so I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.

Huib, I know you don’t read this blog often, but thank you for asking me to be your wife and thank you for continuing to provide me with never ending love and support.

A Wild Ride

Since today is the final day of 2011, I thought I’d look back at what has happened.

2011 started out with Phoenix recovering from his acute onset of Idiopathic Vestibular Disease. Even though it technically happened at the end of 2010, he was still in recovery mode at the beginning of 2011. All of us, both two and four legged, were grateful to be able to begin a new year with our faithful friend.

Unfortunately, for me, the year did not start out as smoothly. After dealing with migraines and their auras, my vision went almost completely for the first two weeks of January. I was pretty scared by this sudden change, but thankfully it began slowly returning. My vision did not return to the same level of acuity as it had been since the age of 13, but the deficits aren’t too life-changing. The doctors still do not know why it went, or why it returned, but are almost certain it will probably happen again.

In February Huib and I took Canyon and Cessna to have their eyes tested and were given some unhappy news. Due to a virus during the first six weeks of life, Canyon has scarring on his retinas. This does not bar him from breeding, he will not pass it on to his offspring, but because goldens are not a rare breed, we have been advised to forgo using him as a stud since it would be highly unlikely that another breeder would want to use him with such a defect. To add to the sadness, we also learned that Cessna is beginning to develop cataracts on both eyes. She has two tiny ones on one eye and three tiny ones on the other. At this point surgery is not an option since the scarring from the surgery would be larger than the cataracts themselves, but maybe in the future. We will have her eyes tested again this spring and are hoping that the cataracts will not have grown.

With the news regarding Cessna’s eyes, Huib and I decided to seriously begin our search for her successor. After researching and then e-mailing numerous lab breeders in Ontario, we settled on Red Labrador Retrievers in maidstone (which is near Windsor). On June 10th, we picked up a 10.8lbs, butterscotch colour female, we named RLR’s Babe In Total Control or Rogue for short.

On August 11th, Huib, Rogue and I said goodbye to our faithful old friend. Phoenix had begun refusing to eat around the 11th of July and went progressively downhill from there. Dr. B offered to run some tests and put him on pain medication, but she felt he had already made the decision for us. It was a sad day, but we also knew Phoenix left on his own terms, just the way he had lived his life.

In September I started an online course through the University of Guelph. It was a bit of a transition getting back into the whole student mindset, but overall I did well. I would have done a lot better if I had not had to take the midterm, but was satisfied with my final mark of 76%.

lastly, after talking about showing Canyon for over a year, Huib and I finally did. Canyon made his debut at the Elora Gorge Kennel Club’s Conformation Dog Show on December 27th and came home with three wins and three second place ribbons. At the Retriever Specialty Huib and Canyon defeated the dog who had been beating them during the All-Breed Shows, and went on to receive Winners Dog and Best of Opposite!

As you can see, 2011 has been a year of mainly downs, but we’ve all made it through with just a few minor bumps and bruises.

Everyone seems to think 2012 will be the year for improvement so, let’s hope for that.

Until next year, the ruled by paws gang, would like to wish our friends and followers a safe and very Happy New Years Eve!

Canyon Makes His Debut

The Elora Gorge kennel Club held a Conformation Dog Show this week. Since we have friends in the area and Canyon’s co-breeder does not live too far away, Huib and I thought it was the perfect place for Canyon to make his debut.

There were not many golden retrievers entered in this show, which means Canyon did not have much of an opportunity to compete. We entered him into the Canadian Bred Dog class, since we did not know what the Open Class was all about, there was only one other dog entered along with him. Canyon’s co-breeder said it was unusual for there to be so few goldens being entered, but she felt it also gave Huib and Canyon a chance to get used to showing.

In all three of the All-Breed competitions, Canyon ended up receiving a second place ribbon. Since there was only one other dog entered with him, this means he just got last place. If there had not been another dog entered into his class, Canyon could have ended up with a first place ribbon (which seems silly to me). Each day of the competition, Huib and Canyon seemed to become more comfortable with the ring and Huib started to find ways of keeping Canyon’s attention on him and away from the other dog and its handler.

Our first day was a little rough, Canyon was the second dog to show so kept trying to run after the dog in front. He never once tried to sit though and self-stacked almost perfectly. Our judge is a breeder of English style golden retrievers, so receiving a second place was completely expected, since Canyon was slightly darker than his counterpart. I also don’t think it helped that he wanted to play with the other dog lol!

On the second day, Canyon was a little less interested in the other dog, but kept wanting to sit and was distracted by the other handler who was constantly squeaking a toy while the judge was examining Canyon. I think he had a chance of winning on the second day, but it just wasn’t in the cards.

On the final day, Canyon had two competitions since there was the regular All-Breed and then a Retriever Specialty. Similar to the first day, the All-Breed judge really seemed to like his lighter goldens over the darker ones, so we again received a second place.

Then the tables turned in our favour…

The judge for the Retriever Specialty, the husband of the second day’s judge, absolutely loved him! Huib and I had decided to allow a professional handler to do some touch-ups and I think that, as well as the fact that Huib had figured out a way to keep Canyon’s attention, did the trick.

When we saw that Canyon would be competing against the same dog as in the regular shows, we figured we’d be getting yet another second place ribbon – we were wrong!

Huib said he was shocked when the judge pointed to him first to come over.

Canyon’s co-breeder was beside herself with excitement, and the women sitting in front of us were cheering.

Huib had no idea what he was supposed to do next, this was uncharted territory!

They next competed with the winner from the Open Class (there had only been one dog entered so it automatically got first) and they won again!

Canyon’s co-breeder was so excited, and was wonderful at describing the judge’s every move and telling me about how Huib’s face was getting redder each time he received another first lol!

After getting Winner’s Dog, Huib and Canyon moved on to compete for Best of Breed.

In the Best of Breed category, there were five goldens in total – Canyon (Winner’s Dog), a young female (Winner’s Bitch) and then three Champions (goldens who already had their titles). The judge had each handler move around the ring with their dogs, watching closely. He then thoroughly examined each one, even making various noises to see what sorts of reactions he would get. I think it was at this point when Canyon decided to lean forward and give the judge a kiss lol! The judge asked the handlers with the champions to leave the ring and then re-examined Canyon and the young female. When Canyon’s co-breeder saw the champions leaving, she was amazed because it was uncommon for judges to choose younger dogs over champions, especially in a Specialty situation.

The young female received Best of Breed and Canyon got Best of Opposite Sex.

Canyon was done at this point, he had had enough of the show ring and Huib was relieved to be done because he felt Canyon’s exhaustion would have for sure caused problems. As they walked back to where I was sitting, Huib was stopped by a breeder, who asked how long Huib had been showing. He told her it was just his third day and she was shocked. She said congrats and told him that she had been showing for 10 years and had never won at a specialty. I think this made Huib’s year!

With these wins, we think Canyon has accumulated two points towards his Canadian championship title. As mentioned here, Canyon needs to earn ten points in total, so we’re already a fifth of the way there!

Where’s The Christmas Spirit?

I don’t really ever write about issues I’m having with Huib, but this one is a bit of a constant one, so I’m hoping that by writing it out, maybe it will stop bothering me so much.

Christmas has always been an exciting holiday for me. I love shopping for that “perfect” gift and then the anticipation of waiting to present it to the particular friend or family member.

I remember Christmas shopping with Mom when I was old enough to understand that Santa Claus was not real. She would have a list of things to buy for this person and that person – often multiple pages long. Dad would drop us off at the front door of the mall and I’d push her from this store to that store, as we searched high and low for the items on her list. Even though I knew Santa wasn’t real, Mom never asked me to pick up my own gifts, she’d leave those items on a separate list for when she’d shop with her friend.

Dad was never one to enjoy shopping, but he’d always take the plunge at Christmas to surprise Mom with something special.

When we were young, Brandi and I used to wake up early Christmas morning, so that we could open our gifts from Santa. Dad would make his usual breakfast of French toast and Mom would patiently listen to us babble about how excited we were about this or that gift. We’d show her all the various features of the new toys and put on a bit of a fashion show so she could “feel” how our new clothes fit. After breakfast, we’d all put on something new and then Dad would start piling presents into the car so that we could begin our three hour drive to visit Granny and enjoy our family dinner.

Now that Mom and Granny have passed away, we no longer have the big family dinners, but Huib and I still get together with Dad and Brandi during the holidays.

Huib has never been overly fond of Christmas. He has always been a bit of a Scrooge. We seem to always get into arguments during the holidays over this. I love shopping for people, he hates the expectation of having to shop and give gifts. I have tried, over the years, to explain how I feel about Christmas and how sad his behaviour makes me, but no matter what, he always seems to ruin the holidays for me.

Being married is a balancing act. Spouses sometimes need to make sacrifices for the other. I feel as though our marriage has been a little too one sided lately in the sacrifice making. I moved away from friends and a place I felt comfortable so that Huib could gain experience working in a small hospital. I spend multiple days a week alone with just the dogs and cats for company, so Huib can get as much work experience as possible through working part-time in two units, instead of full-time in one. And, even though I agreed to move here under the expectation that we would continue to go “down south” every six weeks, I have been patient about the lack of trips we’ve had since he switched from full-time to part-time.

In return….I’ve asked for very little.

I’ve asked him to help me train Rogue and get her into public places when he is not working – something that is not happening nearly as much as I’d like.

I’ve asked him to become more involved in the training I do with the dogs, in an effort to keep things a little more consistent – something he’s said he’d start doing, but has still not done.

And I’ve asked him to stop making promises that he cannot keep – a continued struggle.

Now that it is Christmas time…

I have asked him to help me shop for the dogs, my Dad and sister. I’ve drastically cut down our usual “shopping for” list in an effort to make things a little less stressful for him, but we’re still arguing.

He actually seems even worse this year than previous ones.

I know he doesn’t like shopping for gifts. I know he doesn’t like receiving gifts. And I know he doesn’t like the whole idea of Christmas overall.

But, I wish he’d make a sacrifice for me.

Humour me for once.

I wish he’d embrace Christmas. I wish we could have fun decorating the house together. I wish I could have fun looking for that “perfect” Christmas gift to give him and others, without having him make it really frustrating to do so. I wish it wasn’t such a struggle to get him to help me fill out and send Christmas cards. And, I wish he’d surprise me with a special gift at Christmas, not just buy me stuff whenever he sees I like it. It’s the whole thought behind it that I want, not the gift itself.

I wish he’d be more like my friends’ significant others and just embrace the fact that I like to do things he does not.

Most of all, I wish he would stop being such a Scrooge and ruining Christmas for me.

Huib is honestly the most amazing man in the world, but this is one area I wish he’d attempt to improve.