Vacation Time

We had an awesome vacation!!! It was not only a lot of fun, but also quite relaxing.

On the 18th, we flew directly to Victoria, arriving around 10:30pm. We had no issues at either airport, Pearson or Victoria, with absolutely no questions about Rogue. I was a bit worried about how things would go, with her being owner-trained, but she was on her best behaviour and no one said a thing. The plane was pretty cramped. We were on one of Air Canada’s Rouge flights, and will definitely not be doing it again. The seating is cramped, with very little foot space, but Rogue was amazing!!! She only lifted her head on take off, and then sat up during landing.

On Sunday, Jess had training, so Huib and I took Rogue and Hermione, Jess’ Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, for a 10 kilometre walk. About a minute from Jess’ door-step, is a trail where you can walk dogs off-leash. The girls had a blast!!!

Most of the trail is smooth, with the odd tree route and then some narrow spots near the halfway point. Along the walk, we heard a bear roar in the distance, saw huge maple leaves, greeted many people and their dogs, and also checked out trees covered in moss and others that were missing some of their trunk from erosion. Rogue had fun running ahead and even checked out Elk Lake. By the end of the walk, both girls needed to be rinsed off.

In the afternoon, Jess had to go to the pool, so we joined her. There was a public lane swim, as well as lane swims for training. There are about three or four different sized pools at the recreation centre. The pool we were working in was split in half, similar to how Victoria Road’s pool is most of the time.

We only ended up swimming 625 or 675 metres (I kind of lost track). The water is a lot colder and it’s all deep, so Huib had some shin soreness. To help him out, I counted to 20 before setting off. It was nice to swim, even after the 10 k walk.

In the evening, Jess made a really yummy dinner. She invited her roommate, triathlon guide and one of her teammates, who we know, to come for dinner. We had some good laughs and conversation.

On Monday, Jess had training in the morning, so we hung around the house because it was also raining a lot. In the afternoon, after Jess finished her second bit of training, we went for a 3 k walk with her, Nala (her guide dog), Hermione and Rogue. Rogue and Nala had fun checking out different streams and ones along our walk, while Hermione did a lot of sniffing. The hike took us up some steep hills with lots of tree roots and the odd fallen tree to climb over. Jess does this walk with her girls, using her cane when Nala isn’t working. I trust Rogue, but I don’t think I trust myself or her enough to do this hike on my own.

On Wednesday, we took Hermione and Rogue for a hike and then walked a bit on the roads around Jess’ place. I got to see what a palm tree looks like, which was cool because I didn’t know they had furry trunks.

In the afternoon, we went downtown to have lunch and do some souvenir shopping. We took the bus, then went to a restaurant called John’s. I had a really good sweet potato ravioli, Huib had a seafood soup and Jess had a gigantic omelet with fruit and hash browns on the side. Afterwards, we went into several different stores, including one called Sitka, which is a camping supply place. I wanted to check out Sitka, because that is the name of one of Ari’s half sisters, lol!!

In the evening, we had pasta for dinner and relaxed.

On Thursday, Huib rented a car, so we could go over to the mainland for the day. The ferry takes about an hour and forty minutes, so we stood on the deck watching all the different islands go by. Huib saw some seals bobbing in the distance, but could not get a good picture.

We went to Delta and Ladner first. In Delta, we went to Urban Bee and got some blueberry honey. It has sort of a liquorice after-taste. We also drove past BC Guide Dogs. If I had more time, I would have tried to get a tour, but there wasn’t a lot of time to contact their director to set up something.

In Ladner, I bought some cute cards at a thrift store, and some treats at a bakery. We also got some Dutch cookies and salted liquorice (for Huib) at a fancy grocery store.

One store we checked out was a outdoor activities place. They had hunting stuff, fishing gear and camping equipment. I could have bought a crow call – but, who wants to call crows???

Next, we drove to Vancouver. We had dinner at a Cuban restaurant with Dad’s daughter. It has been about 27 years since I last saw her, so I thought it was going to be awkward. It wasn’t!!! We talked about ourselves and a lot about Dad. I am hoping she will come to visit Dad in the near future, but it all depends on her work situation and on her son’s school and soccer schedule.

On Friday, Jess had gym training in the morning, but the entire afternoon off, so we picked her and Nala up around 11:30am. We drove to Nanaimo. Huib had looked at some of the island tourist sites, and saw that there was a neat trail.

The drive is about an hour and forty minutes. The scenery is beautiful. Sadly, it was raining most of the time, so we couldn’t really stop to see things. It also gets dark by about four, so we wanted to get to the trail in time.

When we arrived in Nanaimo it was still raining, so Huib suggested we do a bit of souvenir shopping. There seems to be a big focus on Haida crafts and designs when you look at souvenirs in BC, and the stuff in Nanaimo was no different. We got a really nice metal Haida orca tree decoration for me, along with other gifts for friends and family.

It took Huib a while to find the Cable Bay Trail, so we didn’t arrive until about 3:45pm. We put raincoats on the girls before we went shopping and kept them on during the walk. Since the sky was darkening, we kept all three dogs on leash while we walked. According to the website, it was supposed to take about two hours to do the entire trail – it only took us an hour total. We walked down to the water in half an hour, giving us enough time to see things. Huib saw some seals about 20 feet from shore and then a sea lion. Jess and I thought it was cool to hear them so close. It took us about 30 minutes to get back to the car, even though the trek was mostly uphill. I attached Rogue’s leash to her back ring, so she could help me out when needed, lol!!!

I must give Nala credit here. She guided Jess perfectly along the trail, even along spots where it was pretty rooty and rough.

In the evening, we did a mini Christmas dinner with chicken instead of turkey, and all of the regular sides. We also had cinnamon buns for dessert – YUM!!! Jess gave me my birthday present, a big purple mug with a Haida dragonfly design on it, and salt and pepper shakers with the same design, but they are white. I had looked at them when we were downtown, so she picked them up without me noticing. It’s part of the fun when shopping with a visually impaired or blind person, lol!!!

Oh, on the topic of gifts, Jess gave us our Christmas presents earlier in the week. She wasn’t sure how much we could take back with us, and knew we both liked wearing pyjama pants, so got us each a pair. Huib’s are fleece with chain saws on them, and mine are tan flannel with polar bears wearing red scarves (I think). They are both really cute!!!

On Sunday, our flight to Vancouver left around 12:05pm, so we left Jess at 10, took the car back to the rental place and headed over to the airport. We were on a 50-person plane, one of Air Canada’s Jazz line planes. We were only in the air for about 13 minutes, but the plane was pretty spacious – MUCH better than the Rouge one.

In Vancouver, we ran to the washroom and then headed over to the next gate to board. Our flight was scheduled to leave just after one, but there was an issue with the plane, so they switched planes and we took off around 1:45pm.

The plane was newer. It was comfortable and the flight itself was smooth, even landing was good.

Even though it rained almost every day, and my migraines were a bit annoying, the trip was really good. We enjoyed ourselves a lot, and hope to return next year.

Ankle Update & Workout Review

On Monday, Huib and I went to Victoria Road’s 9pm fitness swim. The pool was surprisingly quiet; We had a lane to ourselves for the first half hour.

I swam 1000 metres total. I did the first 500 m in 24 minutes – which is about a minute or two faster than I’ve done before. I felt pretty good, so we kept swimming and did the final 500 m in 28 minutes.

I have really come a long way in the past four months of swimming. I still need my nose plug, and I still can’t get my legs to cooperate on a regular basis, but I’m swimming faster and I’m more confident.

On Tuesday, I got back onto the treadmill. My ankle seems good. I’m guessing it’s totally healed, but I still need to take it easy and slowly build up its muscles and flexibility.

For my first workout, I did 30 minutes of walking at 3.5 miles per hour. I felt good about this starting pace. This speed is not far off my fastest comfortable pace of 3.7 that I had reached before the injury. I will probably stay at this pace for a couple weeks, or until I feel it’s too easy.

My ankle started to hurt a bit after 20 minutes, but it didn’t worsen, so I kept going. The mild discomfort lasted only half an hour after I finished the workout.

On Wednesday, I wanted to go swimming, but the icky weather caused a migraine, so I took meds and slept instead.

On Thursday, Huib and I went to Victoria Road’s 9pm swim, and did 700 metres. The wall dividing the deep and shallow ends was moved back, making the pool 50 metres long, instead of 25. This also meant that there were less lanes, so the pool was pretty busy.

We had to share our lane with five other people. I focused on getting through the 700 m, and did not keep track of the time. This is the first time I’ve done the 50 m swim in a long time, so it was good to get back to it. I felt good about it. I didn’t have to take a break at the 25 m mark, and I didn’t panic I’m the deeper half – PROGRESS!!!

On Friday, D came and we did a 4.6 kilometre route. We ran for 20 seconds, 10 times. I feel as though it is time to increase the seconds of running, so we’re going to try for 25 seconds. My ankle felt good, and my leg muscles weren’t sore.

Sadly, I am going to need to look for a new guide runner soon. D finishes school in December, and C is too busy with work and other commitments. I am hoping to re-join the Running Room crew and maybe I’ll find a guide with them. I may also email Student Volunteer Connections to see if anyone can help.

Stay tuned for more swimming and running adventures. 😉

An Assortment of Things

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

I will keep everyone posted on my recovery.

*****

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

Adventures in Swimming: Learning to Kick

I have made some good progress in swimming this week.

Tuesday was quite humid and warm, so we skipped field class and stayed home. Huib and I headed to the Victoria Road Rec Centre at 8:50pm, so we would be in the water by 9:00pm.

There were six people in the pool besides us, so we had to share the slow lane with two other swimmers. Huib did a pretty good job of keeping me out of their way. 🙂

We swam 500 metres, or 10 laps!! I was pretty excited, as well as being pretty tired.

On Thursday, we went to the Westend Rec Centre because Victoria Road has 50 metre swims. We did the 50 metre length last Thursday, but I found it a bit too tough, so we’ll do it once in a while. Just not every week.

I had a weather-related migraine, so we delayed our departure, so I could take meds and give them time to work. We didn’t end up getting into the pool until about 9:10pm or so. We only got 475 metres in before we had to get out.

Huib and I worked on my leg movement. He showed me how to do a scissor kick, so I practiced that for the entire swim. It was hard to keep my legs from doing a frog-like kick, but I think I did it correctly about 25% of the time. Whenever I had to adjust my direction, I’d lose track of what my legs were doing. Then, I would try to get my arms moving right and then my legs would start copying my arm movements, lol!!

Huib says I am doing less of the doggie paddle and more of a crawl now – PROGRESS!!!

If nothing else comes up, we’re going to head to the pool on Sunday during one of the public swim times and do some more leg work. I think I will use a kick board for 30 minutes and just work on kicking without any arm stuff. Then finish off with some regular swimming.

I am feeling less nervous in the pool, and kind of look forward to our swim times. 🙂

Busy Week

Since doing my 10k race, I have had a week off. It hasn’t been a quiet week though.

On Wednesday, we took the GO Train from Guelph into Toronto. We then took the subway to Dundas and walked over to Ryerson University. We were there for the Canadian Disability Studies Association Conference.

Ryerson is really spread out, so it took a bit for us to find our destination. Once we registered, we walked over to another building for the keynote presentation. I’m not sure if it’s always this way, but there were probably about 70 conference attendees. Maybe I’m just used to attending international conferences, but I found this one quite small.

There was one session after the keynote before we were given a break for lunch. They had coffee, water and juice, along with some muffins after the keynote, but no lunch was provided, so we walked over to Starbucks for a latte.

Rogue was perfectly behaved and worked quite well in the city. She made a few minor mistakes, like walking me too close to some people on the sidewalk, but overall, she did a good job. There were only three other dogs at the conference, so no one really had to worry about the dogs being distracted by one another.

Maybe it’s just the conference focus, but during the first day, I only found one session of interest.

After the final session of the day, we decided to walk back to Union Station from Ryerson, instead of taking the subway. I thought it would give Rogue some exercise and give us a chance to stretch our legs.

On Thursday, we took the train into the city and the subway over to Dundas.

My presentation slot was during a session between 9:30am and 11:00am. All of the talks during the session were about dogs. I think the most interesting presentation was done by a professor from the US. He talked about the increasing media focus on service dogs. He has a service dog from Paws for a Cause. His dog is a young male golden retriever named Ollie. Rogue and Ollie totally ignored one another – Good Dogs!!

I talked to him before our session began. He told me he read my thesis and found it quite interesting. I was honoured. I am hoping to contact him in the future and see if maybe he needs some research assistance.

My presentation was okay, Huib gave me an 80% mark. It could have gone a lot worse!! I relied on my notes a bit too much. I was dealing with a lot of migraines over the week, and Thursday was no exception, so I had to use my notes to rein in my medication fogged brain. I had hoped the fogginess would clear by the time I presented, but it wasn’t quite gone. 🙁

After our session, I selected one on Disability Justice, thinking it would have a criminology focus – I was totally wrong!! It was more of a philosophical debate, which was of no interest. I have never been good at philosophy.

Lunch consisted of some yummy wraps and delicious brownies. There was an annual general meeting for the Association, so that’s why lunch was provided. They had us vote on some changes and elect some new executive positions.

They also announced that next year’s conference will be in Regina, Saskatchewan. I won’t be attending the conference, but the following year is in Vancouver, so maybe I’ll go to that one. 🙂

The sessions in the afternoon were a bit more interesting. I think the best presentation was by a visually impaired woman who talked about her difficulties accessing material from the library. She wrote about feeling as though she didn’t belong in either the country of the blind or the country of the sighted. I guess her vision is such that she has enough to do some things, but then not enough to do others.

I could really relate to a lot of what she talked about, especially when I thought about my experiences earlier in my post-secondary education career, when I had more sight than I do now.

When the conference was over, we walked back to Union and caught a bit earlier train than the day before. We got home around 8:00pm and were all pretty exhausted.

Overall, I think the conference was boring and kind of a waste of time, but I also met a couple of people, so maybe those connections will turn into something – you just never know…

*****

On Friday, Huib and Rogue made their debut in the obedience ring. They earned one leg towards their pre-novice title.

Huib texted me throughout the morning. I stayed home with the others, as we had been away for most of the week and I worried about Canyon, who can have seizures when he’s stressed or the weather is poor. Thankfully, he was fine.

Huib entered Rogue in two obedience runs. The first went okay, but they didn’t pass because Rogue was a little too excited. She pulled a bit on her figure eight and let out a little bark. Then, during the recall portion, she torpedoed Huib, lol!!

Their second run went a lot better and they passed!!

After the obedience runs were over, Huib stayed a bit to watch rally. He is thinking about trying rally with Rogue, but he’ll wait until they finish their pre-novice title.

*****

Thankfully, the weekend was a lot quieter. We did some tracking, but otherwise, we just relaxed.

Working Dog Conference: Hello Banff!!

After checking out the different options for travel between Calgary and Banff, we decided on the Greyhound because it was less than half the price.

We weren’t sure how they would do with Rogue, since officially, Canada’s travel regulations say the dog should be program-trained, but no one said anything.

At the station, we waited for probably an hour before they began boarding the bus. While waiting, Huib went to the washroom and found a bud of medical marijuana sitting on a ledge. He said that he smelled something off when he entered the stall, so liked around and saw it. He gave it to one of the security guards, who put it into their pocket, lol!!

You would never have known it, but this was Rogue’s first time on a Greyhound bus. Unlike a city bus, the space is a bit restricted, but she just curled up and fell asleep. It took about an hour an a quarter to get to Banff.

While we were in Calgary, my migraines were pretty mild, but the weather had begun to change, so my migraine was not as great on our drive. As a result, I ended up falling asleep for part of the ride.

In Banff, the bus dropped us off at the station, which was about a 10 minute walk from our hotel. It was a good walk. It gave Rogue and us a chance to stretch our legs. Huib took care of the suitcases, while I carried my backpack and Rogue guided me. She got really good at following him at a distance where I wouldn’t end up walking into the back of the bags if he stopped quickly.

Once we had checked in and dropped off our bags, we went for a walk. We checked out some of the stores along the main street and went into a neat stone place that has really expensive stuff. I got to feel some fossils and other art made of rock. Before we went back to the hotel to change, we got some french fries. The fries were good, but the seasoning had MSG in it, so I had to take some meds.

At the hotel, I quickly changed into nicer clothes and then we called a cab. The International Working Dog Conference took place at Rim Rock, a hotel that was about four kilometres away. Unfortunately, there were no sidewalks up to the hotel, so we couldn’t really walk.

There were a lot of events taking place at the hotel, so it took us a few minutes to figure out what floor we needed to be on. While we were looking, a woman from the Standards Committee I’m on, came over to say hello. Her staff were attending the conference, so she had dropped them off before heading on vacation.

At the conference registration table, I had a bit of a brain fart and forgot to tell the person my name, I just told her I was there to check in, lol!! They gave me a name tag with tickets for drinks, the conference dinner, the excursion and then the gala. They also gave me a bag that contained red Canada mittens, a battery pack, a memory stick, and an Alberta pin. I was excited about the mittens because mine are pretty beat up and really need to be replaced.

At the social, we had some appetizers and drinks. While Huib was grabbing our drinks, a woman came over to introduce herself. I guess she had made note of the different Canadian presenters, so she could scope them out. I enjoyed meeting her because she is doing some interesting service dog research and she knows my masters supervisor, James. I gave her my business card, so maybe we will be able to keep in touch.

Shortly after she left, we decided to go as well. The social was only scheduled for two hours, so we thought we might as well go catch the bus and then walk around a bit.

Adventures in Running: A Rough One

I want to keep everyone up-to-date with my progress. I also think publicly writing about it helps me stay accountable.

Things are going pretty well this week, but last week was pretty rough.

D and I got together at 8:30am on the 15th for a run. It was a bit crisp temperature-wise, but once we got going, it wasn’t too bad. Our biggest challenge was the snow on the sidewalks. Most of the sidewalks close to my house were quite clear, but some of the others we travelled were full of drifts because on top of the snow was a lot of gusting wind.

Like usual we started out walking a couple of blocks to warm-up. There are three long metal electrical wire covers along the warm-up route, so that’s why we walk it. Once we passed the third grate, we started running to Grange. I’m not sure how far I made it, but probably about 100 metres before I needed to slow down. The rest of the route went very similar, we only did about four more running spurts which equalled about 100 metres each. So, on top of running less of a distance, we also couldn’t manage as many attempts.

On the bright side, we still got back to my place within the same amount of time as before, so I guess we must have at least walked faster.

We planned to get together again on Saturday, but D went home for the weekend, so we rescheduled for Wednesday. Then we got wild weather Wednesday, so we’ll try again Friday.

On the treadmill workout front, Jess continues to push me 🙂 Unfortunately, my migraines have really been getting in the way.

On Friday, I did 40 minutes that included incline work. I developed a bit of muscle discomfort in my left hip region, so Jess suggested I walk and avoid going past incline level four.

My walking pace has really increased since beginning this adventure. In December, my fastest speed was around 3.0, but this is now my cool down pace. My normal walking speed is up to 3.5 miles and is creeping towards 3.7.

The workout didn’t go too badly overall, but I definitely felt like giving up at various points. I pushed myself and got through all, but incline four, where my muscle discomfort began to increase after 2.5 minutes, so I finished the last 2.5 minutes at a lower incline level.

Jess and I have been talking about the 10k goal and we’ve decided to increase my workout days to four times a week.

On Monday, I had a migraine during the day, so in the evening I did a 35 minute walking workout that had me changing speeds. I did the usual three minute warm-up, then I did 6 reps of five minutes at 3.7 and five at 3.9. Other than getting really warm and wanting to stop because I was bored, I did it all, including a two minute cool down.

I’m not sure why, but i’m really finding it tough to get through some of my workouts right now…

Tuesday, I did a walk/run interval workout – I really dislike these ones!! I did my normal three minute warm-up at 3.1, up from 3.0, then attempted to do three minutes of walking at 3.6 and two minutes of running. I am still trying to figure out a good treadmill running speed, so I played around a little. My first run was at 5.0 and the second was at 5.5. After each run, I had to pause the timer for 30 seconds to catch my breath, wipe my face and drink a bit of water. Thinking I might be able to go without stopping if I slowed it down some, I did the third and fourth runs at 4.5, but I still had to take a break. At this point, I wanted to quit, but I also didn’t feel horrible, so I pushed myself to try a fifth run at 5.0. I only got through 90 seconds of the final run, but I was happy I tried and I finished with a three minute cool down at 3.0.

Since D and I weren’t able to get together on Wednesday, Jess said she had “an easy workout” for me to do. She was totally fibbing!! I got distracted by the papers I needed to mark and by a book I’m reading, so I didn’t get around to the workout until later in the evening.

In total, my workout was 48 minutes long. I did a three minute warm-up at 3.1, then did four intervals of walking at 3.7 and 3.9/4.0. I started out well. I did two full intervals without pausing the timer. After the second 4.0, I stopped for 30 seconds. I slowed the third interval from 4.0 to 3.9, hoping I could push through to the end of the fourth without stopping, but I had to stop for a minute. Then, after the fourth 3.7, I stopped for three minutes. I was done, I didn’t want to go any further, but then I felt really guilty. So, I made myself get back to work and squeezed out 2.5 minutes at 4.0 and then did a five minute cool down. Even though I didn’t get through the final five minutes of 4.0, I still felt good about it because I pushed myself to go further than I wanted.

Today is my day off, then D and I run at 8:30am.

Tracking Frustrations

This week we didn’t have obedience because Huib had to work late and I have been dealing with some weather-related migraines.

**********

This afternoon we had tracking with Laura and others. It was quite a large group: Sandy with Stewart, Mary with Cordelia, Annie with Trixie and Maestro, and then us with Rogue, Arizona and Canyon.

It was a pretty cold day, so Mary brought us all hot chocolate, Sandy brought yummy scones and we brought banana nut bread.

Laura laid tracks for Stewart, Cordelia, Rogue and Arizona before we all arrived, so they would have time to age. She then asked Huib to lay tracks for Trixie and Maestro, while Annie laid a track for Canyon.

Stewart and Cordelia went first. Each of them struggled a bit with their track, but did a good job overall.

Rogue went next. She did a beautiful job on her first leg, but then she got lost on her second and third legs. I’m not sure what messed her up, but it kind of frustrated me. I was probably totally over-thinking things, but I kept wondering if maybe we shouldn’t even consider entering the urban test in April. Laura said the area was quite contaminated and not to worry, and Huib feels the wind might have played a part, but I was still a bit frustrated with Rogue’s work – I’m such a bad handler, I shouldn’t have blamed her for the problems… Rogue did a great job on the rest of her track, so she definitely redeemed herself – good girl!!

I’m still not sure I want to enter the test in April, but I think we have a bit of time to decide.

Arizona was next. She did some great work, but then some not-so-good stuff. She almost missed her first article. Then she got really distracted by a bunch of birds, specifically a fat robin, lol!! I think she also found it tough working close to a fence line.

I’m not sure if it was the cold temperatures or the fact we were working in a school yard, but all of the more advanced dogs seemed to face some challenges today.

Canyon had had a seizure around noon, so we did an easy warm-up track to judge how he was feeling. His last seizure was a mild one on February 3rd. Added to the upcoming snowstorm that is forecasted to hit tomorrow, this is about his regular time for another. His seizure was one of his usual ones, with lots of drooling, muscle tremors, fixed eyes, but totally aware of things around him, and a release of his anal glands. Once it was over, he got up and started begging for my lunch, lol!! The warm-up track went well, so we decided to let him do the one Annie laid.

He found both of the articles and did a great job on the final leg, but he was pretty unsettled. I’m really hoping that as he continues to run tracks, he’ll return to his initial focused working that we witnessed a month ago.

**********

I’m not sure if it’s related to his unsettled work at tracking, but a couple of hours after we got home, Canyon had a second seizure. This one was short, but about the same intensity as the one earlier in the day. I think it might be the upcoming snowstorm that is causing him problems. I sure know it has been causing me issues, with constant migraines and nausea at times.

For both of our sakes, I hope Mother Nature makes up her mind soon and sticks with some sort of weather for a while before changing again.

Quiet

This week has been a bit quieter. Other than obedience class on Thursday night, we haven’t done too much.

Classes at McMaster were out for winter break, so I didn’t even have marking to do. For those who don’t know, I am a grader for one of the third year classes. The class is on disability, chronic illness and aging, so it’s been pretty interesting so far. The readings for the class are informative and it has been a bit of an eye opening experience to read some of the responses students give to questions posed by the instructor on issues, such as physician-assisted death.

**********

Arizona and I were the first to show Susie what work we have done.

Before we could do this, Susie had me walk with her in the training area without Ari. I think she is hoping that by practicing the patterns regularly, I won’t be as nervous when the time comes for us to actually enter a trial.

Once we had gone over two different patterns, Huib let go of Arizona’s leash and she came barrelling over to me.

I began with our usual warm-up exercise of, sit, down, touch, and then we did some turning. I turn in the same spot, so Ari has to pivot with me and keep her back end moving in line with my movements. Ari isn’t always great at this exercise, but after a while, she catches on.

Susie noticed that Arizona appears to have a good ‘touch,’ so she suggested we try using it on turns, to keep her attention on me and also keep her lined up properly.

When I turn right, I ask her to ‘touch’ my hand, which is at my left pant seam, as we finish the turn. By doing this, it keeps her focus on me and stops her from moving too far ahead. When I do a 180, I ask for a ‘touch’ before we turn and then as we finish. In all cases, she’s touching my left hand by my pant seam and I am passing a treat from my right pocket to my left hand. I need to work on not moving my left hand from its anchor spot. I think this will work though because Ari’s ‘touch’ has really come along since we first started it in late October.

I think we did a pretty good job of following the directions Susie laid out for us. Ari’s heel is coming along. She was still a bit sniffy at times, but Huib wonders if maybe there’s something on the floor because Rogue also wanted to sniff in that area. I will just keep working on their floor zen (leaving treats and stuff alone on the floor unless cued to interact with them).

When we did the figure eight, Susie and Huib were the posts – very distracting for poor Ari. I used the ‘touch’ cue to keep her attention on me and away from Susie and Huib. As I finished the turn around the post, I asked Ari to ‘touch,’ which kept her head from moving towards the posts and we were able to stay in motion and on track.

I asked Susie if she felt Arizona and I might be ready to consider a trial in the near future and she said we have a lot of work to do. Personally, I think we’ve made huge progress since our first lesson back and this is only our third. I am hoping that if I keep working through Sue Ailsby’s Levels and on the Fenzi Academy classes we are taking, that maybe we can prove Susie wrong.

Then it was Rogue and Huib’s turn.

Huib has really tried to do a lot of work with Rogue. It really showed. I don’t think Susie had anything bad to say about their performance.

She had them run through two different exercises and they were great!!

Susie thinks that if they continue to practice, they should be ready for a trial soon.

After having Huib and Rogue work, Susie suggested Arizona and I do some more work with her. She had us practice walking and stopping. She feels Ari is too used to being given a cue twice, so wants me to correct her immediately if she ignores the first cue. I did this, but I am going to keep working hard on having Arizona respond to my first cue, so that I won’t have to give her leash corrections for longer than necessary. I really do not like leash corrections and I try to only use them if the dogs are in danger, like if they are about to run out into the road or something.

After a while of that, we moved on to doing some sit-stays and recalls. Arizona is doing really well at sit-stays, but still struggles at staying as I return to her side. I think it will just take time for her to realize it’s okay. Usually I expect the dogs to move out of my way, but I need them to learn that if I ask them to stay, it means they don’t have to move out of my way when I come near.

Our next class is Thursday evening, so I will continue working on incorporating the ‘touch’ into our turns and also work on floor zen and longer sit-stays.

**********

On Sunday, we were supposed to have urban tracking, but Huib got called into work. It worked out okay though, because I had a pretty bad migraine with nausea most of the day. With this unstable winter weather, I’m dealing with a lot more migraines than usual. Winter tends to be the better time for me, migraine-wise, but not this year. I am hoping things will calm down soon, so I can give my liver a break from all of the extra medications I have had to take.

Well, that’s all for now. I hope everyone is staying safe.

Coursework

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.