Wrapping Up 2017: My Turn

Sorry for the delay.

2017 was a really good year for me.

Just before Christmas of 2016, our friend Jess asked if I wanted to try working out. I said “sure,” and that began my running and swimming adventures.

In April, Huib, Rogue and I went to Alberta for a week. We stayed in Calgary for a few days, then moved on to Banff, where I presented at the International Working Dog Conference. I met a lot of people and seemed to garner a lot of interest in service dog policies, so hopefully it’ll go somewhere in the future.

Between January and the end of May, I worked out three to four times a week. I lost weight, gained more energy and on May 28th, I ran my first 10 kilometre race. I didn’t run the entire time, but finished the race in an hour and forty minutes, which I personally think was amazing!!!

At the end of May, I presented at the Canadian Disability Studies Conference in Toronto. I met some other people doing research related to dogs, but no one seemed too interested in the political side of the topic.

Unfortunately, on June 12th, I fractured my ankle, so had to put running on hold while I recovered.

I have never been a real swimmer, but I worried about losing my fitness and gaining back weight, so on June 24th, I decided to go to the pool.

From June 24th until the end of November, I went to the pool at least two days a week. I went from not wanting to put my head in the water, and being nervous about deep water, to swimming 1000 metres in 50 minutes.

Over the past month, I have not been swimming, but I plan to return soon.

In early September, D returned from her summer job, and we got back to running. It was slow progress, but by mid-December we were running for 50 minutes at a time, about 14 times along our five kilometre route. Sadly, D finished school and has moved, so I am in the process of finding another guide runner.

Over the past year, I have lost weight and gained muscle. I feel good and have begun to really enjoy running and swimming. I still don’t like running on the treadmill, but do enjoy running outdoors.

MY GOALS:

This year, I want to continue running and swimming.

On the running front, I would like to be able to run an entire five kilometre race this spring or summer. And, if we can figure out the logistics, I would like to do a half marathon in the fall – maybe in Victoria? 🙂

On the swimming front, I would like to work on my technique and endurance. I would like to get to a point where I do not need to stop at each end, but continually swim my laps. I’m not sure where I want to go with swimming, but for now, I’d like to use it as a way to stay healthy and fit for running.

As for a health goal? I would like to be under 200 pounds.

I am hoping to get into some sort of routine, where I am swimming twice a week, running at least twice a week and maybe going to the gym once in a while. I think the bike and elliptical might help me with my leg muscles, as well as with strengthening my ankle itself.

I feel quite good, but from time-to-time, I still have some discomfort. It isn’t major, but it’s there, so I listen.

I think tweaking my diet might help with the weight loss and fitness goals, so one thing I am going to try and do, is limit the sugary cereals I consume. I’m not sure what else I’ll modify, but I think breakfast is a good place to start.

On the education front. I plan to apply to McMaster University again for their PhD in Health Studies. I’m hoping third time will be the charm. 😉

For all of us at ruled by paws, 2017 has been GREAT!!!

We can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store.

Here is a picture of Canyon and Arizona getting into the New Year’s spirit. Canyon is wearing a blue party hat, while Arizona wears a pink one.

Wrapping Up 2017: Rogue, Canyon & Cessna

Now, onto the other three canines in the ruled by paws crew.

ROGUE
On the service dog front. Rogue has been an amazing little worker. In early April, we went to Banff for a conference. I presented at the International Working Dog Conference, and Rogue was an perfect example of a well-behaved owner-trained dog. I was a bit worried about taking her to Alberta, given their expectation that all service dogs be trained by an organization, but I shouldn’t have worried – we had ABSOLUTELY no issues. I even had a few store clerks compliment me on my little professional.

Our summer was a bit quiet, with me injuring my ankle and being unable to do much walking. Despite the time off, when we went to Victoria in late-November, Rogue was again stellar!!! She was a complete professional, at both the airport and throughout the city itself. Even though it rained a lot, Rogue worked flawlessly. I was a little concerned about the service dog laws in British Columbia, where teams are expected to be ‘certified,’ but I again should not have worried. We did not run into any problems.

In tracking, we progressed in many ways, but title-wise, we were unsuccessful. I entered Rogue in two tests this year. One was in London, in June, while the other was in October. At both tests we ran into problems on the first leg. I was a bit embarrassed by our performance at the October test, where the conditions were beautiful, but Rogue felt we MUST follow a cross-track. In spite of this, I felt we came out of the test with things to work on, so it was definitely worth attending.

Finally, on the obedience front. Huib and Rogue made their obedience debut in late-June, earning her pre-novice (PCD) title in mid-July.

I was SO proud of them!!!

MY GOALS FOR ROGUE
I would like to enter her into both UTD and TDX tests this spring or fall, depending on our schedule. I would absolutely love her to earn at least her UTD in 2018.

Huib hopes to continue with their obedience training, maybe entering a novice test in the fall or winter. Their biggest challenge will be finding the time and motivation to train together.

I love working and training with Rogue, so maybe we’ll see if there’s another performance venue she might enjoy and excel in.

CANYON
Poor Canyon has sort of been neglected this year. He attends field classes with Arizona from time-to-time, but we haven’t done any real competing in anything since before Ari was with us.

He started tracking training in the spring, and seems to really enjoy it. He can be a bit frantic at times, wanting badly to please us, so we’re teaching him to slow down and focus on the task. He seemed close to being ready to enter a test, but we decided to give him another year to train.

Canyon’s seizures seemed better this year. He has had seven, but he went an entire six months without, so we were quite excited about that. We will continue to follow the zero carb diet started in March, and hopefully his seizures will remain absent for longer periods.

MY GOALS FOR CANYON
I would really like to continue his tracking training, and maybe have him attempt to earn his TD in the fall.

I would also like to see if there is another performance venue that might interest him, as I feel like he could go further than he has so far.

CESSNA
Our little old lady turned 14 on October 30th. She continues to enjoy short walks with Dad and appears to be interested in what everyone in the house is up to. Her hearing is somewhat gone, but we really can’t tell how much or how little she can hear, as she also enjoys ignoring us, lol!!! Cessna’s vision also seems more limited, so we’ve started leaving lights on overnight, and have put a carpet on the stairs leading into the living room, so she can see/feel the stairs coming. In addition, her incontinence has gotten a bit worse, so she is almost on a full dose of her medication twice a day.

Unfortunately, she appears to have moderate to severe arthritis. She can walk okay, but does stumble on uneven terrain and sometimes finds it tough to jump onto or off of the couch. Added to this, she has a very large lump that has been slowly growing under/sort of behind her left front arm. The vet and us have left it alone, worried it will become a real issue if we disturb it, but I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll need to do something by the summer. It has taken two years or so, for it to get to this point, so maybe we can wait some more.

My poor old girl…

I really don’t have any goals for Cessna, other than to have her continue to live a good quality life. If I need to, I will begin pain medication, but for now, she seems okay with just her golden paste (turmeric) and other supplements.

Tomorrow, I will share my own accomplishments and personal goals for 2018.

Wrapping Up 2017: Arizona

2017 has been a REALLY good year for all of us at ruled by paws. 🙂

Over the next few entries, I will share our 2017 accomplishments, and my goals for each of us in 2018.

Let’s start with the youngest of the crew.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
On May 17th, Ari turned three and it was like a light bulb turned on in her head. She really seems to have begun to mature and realize there are times when we need her to be a bit more serious. Her first success came on June 29th, when we entered a retriever test, and Arizona earned her Working Certificate (WC). Then, on September 17th, she earned her first leg towards her junior hunter (JH) title. Despite performing beautiful land retrieves at each of the three tests we entered in September, Arizona struggled with the water, and was only able to successfully complete two water retrieves at her second test.

We’ve made so much progress this year in field, so I know the 2018 season is bound to be great!!!

On the conformation front. We entered Ari into two weekends, August and October, of Grand River Kennel Club United Kennel Club (UKC) shows. In August, Arizona earned a group fourth at her first show, beating more than three other breeds. Then, on October 30th, Ari defeated another female golden, earning a Best of Breed – fishing off her UKC Championship. We still need to get her permanent registration number, so we can obtain the official certificate.

In tracking, Huib and Arizona entered a test in Guelph on November 12th, achieving her Tracking Dog (TD) title.

Finally, 2017 has also been the year of health testing. With the help of Ari’s breeder, we have begun the process of starting our own breeding program. In May, Ari got a ‘normal’ thyroid test result, and in June, she was cleared of any inheritable eye conditions.

She does have a tiny linear cataract, but Dr. Whalen said it was not genetic, and that it’s just one of those times when you say, “shit happens.” Huib and I wonder if maybe it might be related to when she whacked her head around 14 weeks of age. Ari had been trying to jump up onto the table holding the cat food, and when she pushed herself up with her back feet, she fell straight backwards, whacking her head on the tile floor. For about a week or two, she had a huge goose egg on the top of her head. Looking back, I wish we had taken a picture, lol!!!

In October, Arizona got back her genetic test results from Paw Print Genetics. She is clear of everything, but is a carrier for PRA 2. The result was good, but meant that we had to begin looking for a different stud, as the one we had hoped to use, is also a PRA 2 carrier.

In early November, Ari went to the cardiologist for her heart test. He gave her the “all clear.”

Finally, in late November, Ari went for her hip and elbow x-ray. We are still waiting for the results, but we’re hoping for good news.

As you can see, it has been a REALLY good year for UKC CH. Taygold’s Kindred Spirit WC TD.

My Goals for Airy Berry:
On January 21st, I hope to enter an obedience correction match with Air, so we can train in a ‘realistic’ trial setting. If it goes well, I plan to enter another correction match on February 4th, so we can then take part in the trial over the weekend. I would love Arizona to earn her pre-novice obedience (PCD) title in 2018.

If Ari gets positive results back from OFA, regarding her hips and elbows, then we plan to breed her in March. This means she would have puppies in May. 🙂

Assuming Air has puppies, she would be out of commission until July, so we won’t be able to return to field until September.

I would absolutely love it, if Arizona could finish off her JH in 2018.

I’m really not sure she’ll have time to do much tracking training in 2018, so attempting to earn a TDX or UTD might have to wait until 2019.

We have had SO much fun with Arizona in 2017, so we definitely cannot wait to see what next year has in store for our Wild Child!!!

Where Have we Been…

I know, I know, it has been a while since I last posted an entry. I really want to get back into regular blogging, but I am having trouble coming up with things to say.

My Web Wizard cannot seem to figure out how to fix the issue with me not being able to post pictures here, so I am going to try and use Instagram and share the link – it might take a bit though, the iPhone app is pretty confusing with a screen reader.

What’s been new with the ruled by paws crew?

As mentioned in my last entry, Rogue was attempted to earn her UTD (urban tracking dog) and TDX (tracking dog excellent) titles.

Unfortunately, 2016 was just not our year for tracking.

She did a really good job at her UTD test, but missed the first article – a knitted mitten. I saw some great work though. It was a pretty rough track and she wasn’t working in the most optimal conditions.

I’m not sure if I have mentioned it here before, but Rogue absolutely hates being wet. This makes it pretty difficult to work with her at times. She will do absolutely everything possible to avoid puddles, even stopping dead in her tracks, refusing to move until i force her to continue.

So, when we got to the test and it was not looking like the rain would stop before her turn, I took a deep breath and crossed my fingers.

We walked up to the ‘scent pad,’ I asked her to “Check it out.” She sniffed the area thoroughly, probably hoping for even a tiny treat. Then, when I felt she was pointed in the right direction, I said “Find.” She took off and we followed. The first half or so of her track was covered, I mean covered, in goose poop. I had to constantly ask her to “Leave it.” Despite the distraction, she followed her track quite well. There were a few spots where she had to work a bit harder to find the track, such as at corners, but I felt she did a good job overall. When we were nearing the last corner, the judge came up to us to say we were welcome to finish, but that she had missed the first article, so she would not be getting her title. We were sad, but we felt she needed to finish, so she would be able to feel as though she had done what I asked.

In early November, Arizona attempted to earn her TD, while Rogue tried for her TDX – neither were successful. When Arizona had her turn, she did the first 30 metres well, but then got distracted by the cow manure in the field. Even though Huib tried to refocus her, she continued to go back to the different piles she found, and even did some rolling. We are hoping with some time and maturity, she’ll be able to try again.

Rogue had a pretty tough track. Laura, our instructor, said the judge was a bit sad to see which track we were assigned. Rogue approached the scent pad, figured out which direction the track went, and then did about the first quarter to a third really well. She got stuck when we were supposed to turn into a field of corn stalks. The corn had been harvested, so the stalks were about ankle high. From her behaviour at that spot, I think she knew we had to turn, but felt it was too dangerous for me. If we had to fail, I’m glad to be able to say that we failed because she felt she had a guiding responsibility. I am going to work with her throughout the spring and summer to teach her that it is Huib’s responsibility to keep me safe when she is on the tracking line, and that she is only expected to follow the scent.

On November 17th I had my convocation. Huib went with Rogue and I. He walked with me in the procession with the other students, but when it was time for me to go up onto the stage and receive my degree, Huib walked me to the stairs and then ran to the other side to meet back up with us. Rogue did a great job of listening to my directions, so I think we probably looked pretty smooth walking across the stage together.

The rest of 2016 was pretty uneventful. I had a good birthday at the end of November and Christmas was quiet, but nice.

We had some friends and family come over on Boxing Day for dinner, but otherwise we didn’t do much.

Goals for 2017?

Most of my goals for this year surround the dogs and performance events.

I want to continue taking classes through Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. I took an obedience foundations class in October and right now we’re doing a competition retrieve class using shaping. I found the obedience class a bit lacking, but we’re enjoying the retrieve class.

I have tried to teach Rogue how to retrieve for a while, but this class has helped her progress further than I was ever able to do so on my own.

Arizona has been able to retrieve things for more than a year, but I find the class is tightening up her ‘hold,’ which will help us in field.

I also want to continue working through Sue Ailsby’s Levels Training Program. I have been casually doing them for a long time, but I never really started with Arizona.

In an effort to improve our obedience lessons with Susie, I decided to restart the Levels with Rogue and Canyon, while also working on them with Arizona. We have been doing short sessions, three times a week, for about two months now and I am seeing huge progress.

All three dogs are working on level 2. Each one is at a different point with the 14 different behaviours found in the level. Canyon tends to lag behind the girls a bit, while Arizona shines in some areas and Rogue in others. It has been a good experience for us all and I hope to continue this through the year.

Performance wise?

I want to enter Rogue in another TDX and UTD test. I also want to try field with her.

With Canyon, I would like to return to conformation, maybe even showing him myself. I would also like to do some tracking and enter an obedience trial with him.

I hope to continue doing field with Arizona, trying for both her WC and JH this year. I would have liked to also try for her WCI, but I need to make sure she has a really solid ‘stay.’ Arizona has progressed a lot in her levels work with me, so maybe we can try entering an obedience trial in the spring. Huib wants to track with her some more, maybe trying for her TD in the fall because the summer months are way too warm for her.

A personal goal?

I want to earn my PhD. The application is due in mid-February, so I’m going to start working on that this week.

To try and improve my chances of getting accepted to a PhD program, I am submitting abstracts to different conferences. So far, I have been accepted to present at the International Working dog Conference in April being held in Banff.

I also want to continue working on improving my physical health. I started walking on the treadmill three times a week, so I want to continue doing this, see how it goes and where it takes me.

The ruled by paws crew would like to wish our readers a safe and happy new year!!

Wrap-Up and Highlights for 2015

All of us at ruled by paws would like to wish our loyal readers a VERY Happy New Year!! We hope 2016 brings you all the good of 2015 and more.

2015 has been quite the year for us. It has had its downs, but it has been a year of mostly ups.

Here are some of the highlights:
December, Arizona finally retrieved her first duck;
November, Rogue earned her TD;
October, Rogue and I attended the first CGSB, Committee on Service Dogs’ meeting;
September, I signed and mailed in Cessna’s adoption papers;
August, Rogue came to Arizona’s field class and swam;
July, I did a poster presentation at the ISAZ Conference;
June, Canyon turned 6 and we didn’t really do anything, so it was a month of picture sharing;
May, Arizona had her 1st birthday;
April, Rogue turned four;
March, I presented at accepted to the 2-year stream for my masters program.

It has sure been quite the year for all of us.

I haven’t been as good about blogging on a regular basis, so that is one thing I’d like to do better in 2016.

A couple of months ago I was asked if there is anything I would change about where I am and what I have done. My answer was no, I am exactly where I want to be, doing exactly what I want to be doing. I think 2015 was the year things started falling into place for us and I hope things continue to do so because I’ve got some wishes I’d love to come true.

So, come on 2016, we’re ready and we can’t wait to see what’s in store.

See you all in the new year, but until then, play safe everyone!!

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!

goodbye 2013!

So another year has come and gone.

2013 didn’t start out very well…

On March 14th, we had to say goodbye to our golden princess.

2013 was a year of change.

On April 2nd, Huib left his job at the Kirkland & District Hospital and started working at Riverside Glen in Guelph.

On May 1st, we moved back to Guelph.

On June 22nd, my sister got married.

In October, rogue began taking over from Cessna.

2013 ended in a pretty sweet way…

On December 28th we bought a house 🙂

Let’s hope 2014 continues like 2013 ended…

All of us at ruled by paws hope 2014 is a year full of happiness and lots of tail wags.

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!

Bye bye 2010, don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

Everyone seems to be writing year end wrap-ups so I thought I’d do the same for all of us at ruled by paws.

2010 has been a year of progress, maturing, adventure and frustration for all of us. We moved to Northeastern Ontario almost a year and a half ago and it hasn’t been the fresh start we thought it would be. The dogs seem to have settled well into their new home, but Huib and I haven’t been able to catch-up on bills like we thought and feel as though we would have been better off if we had stayed in Guelph. Aspen’s irritable bowel issues haven’t flared up as much as they did when we lived in Guelph and Phoenix seems happier to be able to walk around his yard as opposed to walking along sidewalks, but Cessna isn’t getting to work as much as she should and I often feel stranded because I no longer have the independence I used to. It is hard sometimes to think about what life could have been like if we had stayed in our Guelph condo – maybe we’d still be fostering for ADS, maybe I could have gotten a casual position with the Acquired Brain Injury Program at St. Joseph’s Health Care, or maybe I’d be back in school feeling as though I could actually become a productive member of our household. But then would we have Canyon? Would he have entered our lives if we had not moved out of our small 2-bedroom condo? Would he have been happy there? Would he have settled into our family as easily if we had not lived outside town, similar to the way he lived previously? These questions continue to move through my head and I can’t seem to find an acceptable answer.

Even though Huib and I have had our frustrations this year, each of the dogs have experienced 2010 differently.

As everyone knows Canyon celebrated his one year anniversary with us on December 18th and 2010 has been one of learning and maturing for him. In a previous post I talked about everything he’s learned and experienced over the year, but here are a couple highlights. Canyon turned one on June 3rd and visited Toronto several times with us over the summer. We went to both Summer and Winter Woofstock as well as Sick Children’s Hospital to visit my friend’s daughter, Christina. Canyon has become a handsome young adult an possesses an amazing temperament, so we’re hoping that in June he’ll pass his health clearances and begin our breeding program.

For most of 2010 Phoenix enjoyed almost perfect health with just a minor ear infection that doesn’t seem to want to leave. But, in November his left ear flap became engorged with blood and he had to get it drained by the vet. Then a couple weeks later it looked as though he had had a stroke and we thought we were going to lose him. As everyone knows though, it turned out to be Idiopathic Vestibular Disease and with just a little extra care he has almost fully recovered.

As you can see 2010 has been a year of ups and downs for all of us, but we all made it through without too many bumps and bruises.

Happy new Year to all our friends! May 2011 be the year dreams come true!