SNOW!!

Canyon sits on a wooden deck covered in a light layer of snow.

Kirkland Lake (where we used to live) already has a few inches of snow and so far Guelph has been spared, but it looks like it’s coming.

The Rogue roller Coaster

The past month has been full of ups and downs for rogue and I.

We are really getting into the tough part of training and it’s been quite the roller coaster.

We’ve had really good training sessions, and then we’ve had okay training sessions. I guess a positive part of all this is that we haven’t had any really bad training sessions.

Rogue is getting really comfortable with her new working gear and she is slowly settling into her guiding responsibilities.

I’ve been really focusing on her curb approaches, directions and confidence.

I’ve been trying to find friends willing to work with us, to give Rogue an opportunity to work without Huib.

I find my dogs get really comfortable with Huib and forget to focus on their jobs. they get into the habit of expecting Huib to take care of me, instead of just working along side him. It’s not just a problem rogue has, but one both Cessna and Phoenix have been guilty of.

Since Rogue and I did a lot of work in malls when we lived in the north, she is extremely confident and her work is almost always spot on. We had two really amazing training sessions that I wish i could have videoed. Her pace was amazing, her obstacle work was perfect, and her precision had me speechless.

Then, when we went to London to see my neuro ophthalmologist, she had me again speechless. She was guiding me around people and through the hospital hallways with such confidence, you’d think she had been there before. she was turning left and right when I asked and she only blew her up curbs by a couple of steps. Huib was with us and was so proud of the work we had done.

Last week I took Rogue and Cessna to the University of Guelph to learn the route from the bus stop to my class. I decided to start by working with Cessna, and then do it with Rogue. I thought Rogue would be able to learn from watching Cessna work – I was completely wrong. When it was Rogue’s turn, her pace was slow, we struggled with our curb approaches but her obstacle work and overall work was okay. I was frustrated because I didn’t understand where my confident little worker had gone.

On Saturday I returned to the campus with a friend to do some more work with Rogue. We still struggled with our curb approaches, she keeps stopping a few feet away from the down curb and then when we inch our way closer, she ends up blowing the curb by a couple of steps. her up curbs were a little better, but she was still taking a couple steps too much. her pace was better though and looking back, I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that her confidence level was higher, since we had been to the campus before. We worked on the route from the bus stop to my class and Rogue did well at finding the stairs, finding the doors, finding the ramps and even finding the elevator, but I think the biggest thing I realized was that I didn’t trust her. I was okay when I knew there wasn’t any stairs I could fall down, but as soon as I knew, or even thought, there were stairs coming up, I felt myself tensing and noticed Rogue’s attention drifting.

overall, I’d have to say rogue worked well, but I need work.

After talking to some friends about the work Rogue and I have done over the past month, I came to the conclusion that we aren’t going to get to the point where she can take over from Cessna if I don’t start getting her out daily. If I’m going to trust rogue, like I trust Cessna, then I am going to have to put in the time.

I’m going to get my cane out and use it to help rogue learn exactly where I want her to stop at curbs and stairs, while also using it to give me confidence that we’re safe.

I think the curb issues stem from something i unintentionally taught her.

To be honest, it seems that most of the issues I have with my dogs are because of something I unintentionally teach, lol!

I’m really going to try and make a conscious effort to get Rogue out daily, even if it means we need to work a bit in the rain.

Itchy Canyon

We’re at a loss…

We don’t know what is wrong…

But, for the past few days, Canyon has been panting, scratching, licking and biting himself.

This happened last summer, right around this time, but, like now, we had no clue how to help him.

We talked to the vet last year and she checked him all over. She couldn’t find anything wrong.

We tried allergy medication for a month, just to see if it was the pollen causing him to be uncomfortable. It didn’t help.

we tried spraying him with doggie insect repellent to prevent the black flies and mosquitoes from feasting on him, it didn’t seem to make a difference.

The only way we were able to stop the obsessive scratching, licking and biting, was by making him wear t-shirts and sometimes booties on his back feet.

so, guess what?

canyon is back to wearing t-shirts and booties on his back feet.

Since we’re taking a break from conformation, Canyon developed a cyst on the lower lid of his left eye in january that needs to be surgically removed, we decided to try leaving him alone and seeing what damage he’d do to his coat and skin before he stopped.

Well, within just a couple of days, he has a small scabbed area behind his left ear and on his chest.

so, leaving him to his own devices isn’t going to work.

Thankfully, he seems to like wearing the t-shirts, and tolerates the boots.

We gave Canyon and Cessna baths this morning, she was also scratching a bit more than we’d like, so we’ll see if maybe there was some dirt in their coats.

While combing Canyon this evening, Huib noticed that he has a bit of a heat rash, so we’ve sprayed his groin area with some stuff that is supposed to help with itchiness. we’ve also turned the central air on so the house is nice and cool.

He seems a bit more comfortable tonight, and really hasn’t been panting, so maybe it’s the heat, maybe it was a bug bite or maybe it was dirt.

But, since it’s Canyon, we’ll probably never know. he’s such an obsessive dog when it comes to some things.

Update From Guelph

It’s time for an update.

We’ve been in our new home for one whole week!

The move from Englehart back to Guelph was relatively uneventful. The only problem we had was with the size of the moving truck. even though UHAUL claimed the truck was large enough to fit a 3-bedroom house, we ended up having to rent a trailer to go along with it.

Since arriving, we’ve set up most of the rooms and probably unpacked about a third of the boxes.

When we left Englehart, the weather had just begun to warm up and the snow was more slush than anything else. But, in Guelph, the trees and flowers are blooming and the temperatures have been in the low to mid twenties. Huib said it best the other day, when he said that he felt as though we were on vacation – the weather is just so drastically different here.

Almost immediately upon arriving at the house, the dogs seemed to settle in. It was almost as if they were also ready to leave the north.

Our friends Kelly and Josh have come over twice with their dogs for play dates, and their visits have made us really feel as though we are finally back home, where we are meant to be.

Moving north was a good experience for Huib, but for me it was the opposite.. I loved the sounds and smells of nature, but that’s about all I loved about the north. I hated the fact that I could never go anywhere independently and I hated the fact that I felt resentment toward Huib.

Now that we’re back in Guelph, I have already begun the process of relearning how to work with and trust Cessna. We had some opportunities to work together while living in the north, but we really never had a chance to work alone, most of the time we were following Huib through stores. It’s going to take a couple of months to really feel comfortable enough to go out on my own, both because of losing some of my sight since moving away and because we barely worked in the north.

On Monday, Huib, Cessna and I walked to the grocery store together. I worked with Cessna, while Huib walked a few feet behind. It was so awesome to feel the freedom of walking with my little black lab again. even though she will be 10 in October, her work is still amazing and the tension in her harness is perfect. I wasn’t sure for a while if she would want to work anymore, but those worries were soon erased when I felt the pride seeping out of her through the harness handle. She guided me with confidence and only made a couple of very minor mistakes. First, she stopped a few feet shy of the curb edge, then she didn’t quite get us to the correct spot on the curb to cross and finally, she got slightly distracted and started guiding me into the garden centre at the store. these are really minor issues and ones that can be easily remedied.

As a side note, there is a Canada goose who resides on the grass beside the sidewalk on the way to the grocery store. Thankfully, Huib had taken a walk over to the store a few days before, so knew about the goose and warned me to watch and directed me on where to walk in order to avoid any real confrontation. as we approached the goose, I felt Cessna become alert and the tension in her harness increased, I calmly told her “leave it” and directed her to continue walking straight. Huib said the goose was hissing and squawking at us, but that as we walked closer and by him/her, it moved away. I’m not sure I’ll feel comfortable enough to walk by it on my own, but with Huib’s guidance, I was able to keep Cessna focused enough to get by the bird. Cessna has a really high prey drive, so getting her to walk by birds and small animals without getting overly aroused can be difficult, but I did it!

I think that’s about it for now. Sorry for the disorganized ramble.

Wildlife Candids: Fox Edition

An adult fox walks along the side of the road.

Huib’s Wives

Picture of just my face. I am wearing a fleece toque that has ear flaps and braided ties that hang down from each side. I'm smiling.

Close up of Aspen from our walk along the closed road near our house.

Or, at least that is what Aspen likes to think.

Snow Labbies

Cessna making paths through really deep snow. She's wearing a red RC Pets winter coat.

Rogue running through snow. She's wearing a lime green and black columbia winter coat.

Can’t Forget This

Canyon lies on a snowy road with a rubber football on a rope in front of him. You can see clumps of ice attached to his chest fur.

He Just Can’t Seem To Go Anywhere Without A Toy

Double Trouble

Rogue and Cessna are exploring near a 100 foot drop. Rogue is wearing a lime green and black columbia winter coat with her chocolate brown collar with: Wet Nose, Cold Heart, written in teal. Cessna is wearing a red and black RC Pets winter coat. You can also see the tops of the trees that are growing in the ravine.

Good Thing They Decided Against Jumping

Wildlife Candids: Moose Edition

A female moose stands in the snow, in the early morning.