Mid-Week Update

It’s been a good week so far.

On Monday evening, Huib and I went to Victoria Road for the 9:00pm swim. I felt as though I was swimming on the slower side, but I actually wasn’t. We did 600 metres in 45 minutes!!! This is five minutes faster than I’ve been doing so far.

Tuesday was a much busier day.

In the afternoon, I had a two hour meting at City Hall. I am part of their accessibility advisory committee. We meet every two months to discuss accessibility-related topics from around the city. It was a pretty dry meeting. Some can get a bit controversial, with lots of discussion and debate, but this one was quite tame.

At 6:30pm, Arizona had field class. The weather was not too warm, so we brought Canyon along. When we arrived, no one else was really there yet, so we played a bit of fetch with the goldens, to cut down on their energy.

First, we worked on making sure the dogs entered the water straight ahead of where we sent them and then returned to us. This exercise was done to teach the dogs that they cannot run along the shore in order to find a clear path, they must bust through the weeds to get directly into and out of the water from the spot they are sent. Arizona will sometimes run to a clearer spot before jumping into the water, but she is really good about swimming directly back to me. Some of the other dogs had to be pushed back into the pond when they wanted to get out early.

Next, we went to a pond that has a rocky shore. Susie wanted the dogs to practice setting up and returning to an uneven surface. She had a wooden skid for people to stand on, so I thought I would be safe enough with my ankle, but Ari did not feel secure. I think she worried about getting a paw caught between the boards, so Huib took her onto the rocks to set up. I whistled and called her back, but he did the actual handling. She wasn’t so sure about getting into the water, but once she was in, she swam right to the duck and brought it to Huib. I think she needs more practice in different ponds and on different surfaces.

There was a bit of daylight left, so we did some land retrieves as well. Arizona set up nicely, but when I said “fetch,” she didn’t move, lol!! I had to release her a few times before she went. She retrieved the duck and dropped it just as I was taking it. I tried to get her to take it back and hold it until I asked her to “give,” but she really didn’t want to cooperate. In her defence, the duck was pretty gross!! It was wet and smooshy!! Arizona had the same hesitation when I released her for the second duck.

I was sort of confused about her difficulties on land. Normally her land retrieves are flawless, but Susie is thinking she was unsure of the forest surrounding us. I think other dogs had a similar issue, so maybe she is right. I wonder if this is something we’d actually run into at a test, or if it’s just something to challenge them while training…

This morning, Huib and I woke up at 5:30am to go to the 6:30am swim at Victoria Road. Huib is finding it difficult to get to sleep after our evening swims, so he wants to try out the earlier morning time. I am a bit unsure I like the early wake up, but we’ll see what happens.

Our swim went well. This seems to be a busier time, so we had two other swimmers to watch out for, but they were patient. Huib didn’t get to do a lot of swimming, he spent a lot of his time blocking me from going into the path of other swimmers. I cannot swim in a straight line. I do a lot of zig-zagging, so it can be hard for Huib to keep me out of the way.

I finished my 600 metres in 42 minutes, so I decided to try for another 100. In total, I did 700 metres in 48 minutes – a HUGE improvement from when I started on June 24th!!

This evening, Huib’s work has a staff appreciation picnic thing. If the temperature isn’t too warm, I think I’ll bring Rogue and the two goldens. We tried to buy camping chairs last night at Walmart, but they only had really uncomfortable, expensive ones. Huib went to Canadian Tire this afternoon and found a fun love seat, so I think Rogue is going to be a happy little lab.

Before I sign off, I’ll tell you all about last night’s trip to Walmart. I won’t bore you with the play-by-play of shopping, but I will tell you about the “service dog” we saw. I put ‘service dog’ in quotes because I’m really not sure if it was or wasn’t. We were going to the checkout and heard some growling. Huib looked over and saw a little terrier mix of some sort, wearing a nondescript service dog vest. The woman apologized for her dog’s behaviour, which is great, but what I wasn’t too happy about was the excuse, “my dog normally doesn’t do this.” I’m not saying the person was lying, but I wonder if it’s true. Maybe it is, but maybe it’s more that your dog doesn’t normally see other dogs in public places and you avoid meeting other dogs outside of stores. I am sure some little dogs are great service dogs, but so far the ones I’ve seen are making me wonder how many of them are getting enough training around other dogs, especially larger ones. Rogue is not a big dog, but little dogs still seem intimidated.

While this “little terror,” as Huib nicknamed it, was growling at Rogue, she stood quietly beside me. I knew she noticed it though, because she tried to tell me we should leave, lol!! I guess she thought it would be safer to leave, rather than to wait for our turn to pay, while the dog was still near. Thankfully, the dog and it’s owner left shortly after we got in line. Huib also made sure to keep us a good distance away.

In closing, I really don’t care if people bring their pet dogs into public places, I just expect all dogs, even service dogs, to show some manners. As I said before, I’m not accusing this person of not really having a disability, but from the behaviour of the dog, I think it needs more training before coming back into public.

Ankle Injury Update

Four week post-injury update.

My ankle is improving. I no longer experience any discomfort, unless I have done too much. I stopped icing it around Wednesday. I am still doing my daily range of motion exercises and I am walking indoors with Huib. I walk a bit outdoors, but I try to limit this right now.

On Thursday, while we got our car repairs done, I worked a bit with Rogue indoors. I had her walking slowly, so that I was safe, but it felt good to let her work.

I returned to tracking and field classes. I put my tensor bandage on and wear my hiking boots for extra support. For the most part, I’m doing well, but I do experience some discomfort when working on grass or in the fields, so I try to limit that. When I do notice some lingering pain, I make sure to take the following day off from all activities.

For exercise, I swim at least twice a week.

Our local pool has nightly lane swims, so Huib and I go to the 9:00pm time slot. As of last Thursday, we are up to 475 metres. I am hoping to reach 500 this week.

I am still not an effective swimmer, but I hope that will improve with time. I think the biggest thing holding me back is my dislike of getting water up my nose, so I need to work on breathing at the correct times.

As long as all continues the way it is going, I should be able to start short (about 5 minutes) walks on the treadmill later this week or next. I hope to start at least short fast walks the following week.

It has been a slow healing process, but I don’t want to be dealing with long-term arthritis issues, so I’m trying to be patient and listen to my body.

Adventures in Running: Race Day

I did it. I did my first, and definitely not my last, 10 kilometre race!!

Saturday morning, Rogue, Huib and I travelled to Ottawa. We arrived around noon.

Jess met us outside of her place, so we could go run a few errands. First, we went to the Running Room to grab some clothes and energy gels. I got a black t-shirt and black shorts, while Jess got a purple tank top, purple and black shorts, and some colourful socks. I’m glad Jess convinced me to grab some clothes because when I went to get dressed, I realized that I had forgotten to pack my running pants and jacket, lol!!

After the Running Room, we went to Critter Jungle for some dog stuff. I bought Rogue and Nala each a cool vegetarian treat that was in the shape of a dinosaur. Jess bought Arizona and Canyon a really cool bacon flavoured Nylabone-like wishbone shaped toy for their birthdays (Ari’s was on the 17th and Candy’s is on the 3rd). I suggested she buy it for the two of them to share because it was expensive and they are competitive, so having to share a toy would make it an even cooler one. They love it!!

Nala turned six yesterday, so Jess bought her a ChuckIt! launcher and some tennis balls. She also got her little dogs some cool chews for when her and Nala have to leave them home alone.

Around 6:00pm, we set off for Ottawa City Hall to meet up with our guides. Rogue and Nala hung out with Huib while we were running.

It was really busy, so Huib had Jason hold onto him, while Rogue and Nala guided Jess and I through the crowds. The girls were fabulous!! As it got more congested, Jess gave me her tether to hold, so that we would not lose one another. Nala is longer than Rogue, so even though her and Jess were walking behind us, she was able to walk beside me on the right, so her and Rogue could make room for us to move through the people. I was pretty darn proud of the two of them!!

It took a bit for our guides to find us, but once they did, we gave Huib our girls and then set off for the starting line.

Oh, I forgot to mention, the four of us were all wearing tutus. I wore a royal blue one, Jess had a purple one, my guide had a black one that lit up and Jess’ guide wore a lime green one. My guide also wore a batman t-shirt, so he looked pretty cool!!

When the race began, they had us all start at different times because there were thousands of racers and we all ran different speeds. To make things less crazy, they organized people into different groups based on the estimated time you thought you would take to complete the race. I tend to take about ten minutes per kilometre, so we were near the back of the pack.

Jess and her guide were doing the race to support me, so they stayed behind us. They sang, danced and had me laughing the whole way. I honestly never thought running could be so much fun!!

Jess’ guide had us working at a pretty constant pace that we maintained most of the way. I think we completed the first half of the race in 45 minutes, which would be about nine minutes a kilometre.

Around kilometre six, I began to lose energy, so Jess gave me an espresso gel. It kicked in at about kilometre number eight, allowing me to finish the race with energy to spare.

In the end, we did 10 kilometres in one hour and thirty-two minutes. This is about eight minutes faster than my usual time, so I was pretty excited!!

Thank you Jess, for motivating me to try running and for helping me train.

Thank you Huib, for cheering me on and for helping me with my treadmill workouts.

Thank you D, for the dedication and for being an amazing guide.

Thank you to my race guide, for keeping me safe and entertained.

Finally, thank you Team Tutu!! You guys were the best race partners ever!! I have never laughed so hard.

Now, I need to set a new goal…

Working Dog Conference: Final Day and the Trip Home

The conference organizers gave all delegates the day off until the gala.

I wanted to give Rogue a chance to have some fun, so Huib went to lay a couple of tracks for her on the Bow River Trail.

When he returned, we had some breakfast and then got ready to go run the track.

If you click on this link you will find a few pictures and a very short video of Rogue and I tracking.

Even though it has been about three weeks since Rogue last tracked, she did a fabulous job!! She thought about rolling in some elk or some other animal’s pee, but otherwise she was great!! She even had to ignore elk poop!! I assume it’s elk, but maybe it’s moose or caribou, I really don’t know what animal they have.

After tracking, we went back to the hotel to let her rest before we went souvenir shopping. Our flight home was scheduled to leave the following day, so we needed to get some things to take back for friends and family.

I got a nice reddish purple hooded Banff sweatshirt, two new hats from Roots (purple and white), a light purple Banff t-shirt with a matching hat, and a cool ornament for our Christmas tree. It is a bear in a birch bark canoe, lol!

We also bought a package of peanut butter and a package of maple fudge. I love chocolate fudge, but pure cocoa gives me a migraine, so I chose a couple of non-chocolate ones.

As a thank you for watching the goldens, we bought each of our friends’ kids a gift. We got Q smiling poop emoji slippers and a package of Thrill gum (it tastes like soap, lol!). For M, I picked out a purple bear change purse and a package of heart candies that say different things on them. There is a really neat candy store in Banff that has different candy from when we were younger. If we didn’t have to worry about the weight of our luggage, I would have totally bound some more stuff.

At 4:30pm we went back to the hotel to get ready for the gala. I wore black pants with black shoes and a black and white fancy shirt. Huib wore a light green dress shirt with black pants and black shoes.

The seats were assigned at the gala, so we got to meet a few new people. There was a woman from Pacific Assistance Dog Society, a couple guys from Customs in Japan, a guy from Australia who does work with military dogs, and then a woman from Guiding Eyes for the Blind. Colleen was also supposed to sit with us, but she couldn’t make it.

Dinner was okay. I liked the steak, but the veggies were a little bland and the scalloped potatoes were kind of dry. I really liked the wild mushroom ravioli appetizer and Huib liked my salmon one, lol! I wasn’t a fan of the dessert, but I’m a little picky there.

After we all ate, Dr. Reynolds did a prevention on his work in Alaska. He talked about the history of sled dogs and then talked about a program where at risk youth care for and train sled dogs. I would love to go to Alaska some day and learn more about this program.

After Dr. Reynolds, came thank you gifts for sponsors, keynote speakers and the conference organizers. Then we played a quiz game, that our table totally lost, lol!!

Before the dinner was ended, they gave out the centre pieces to the youngest person at the table (which was me!!) and then the person who had travelled the furthest, which was on elf the gentlemen from Japan. I won the German Shepherd and the other guy got the Labrador Retriever. He really wanted the German Shepherd, so being a good Canadian, I said: “why don’t we trade?” Normally, I would have wanted the lab, but it has a fat face which bothers Huib, so he wanted the shepherd, lol!!

When it was all over, we went around to say goodbye to people and then headed back to the hotel to pack.

*****

On Thursday morning, we woke up around 7:00am to get ready for the shuttle that would take us to the Calgary airport.

The ride was uneventful. I think Rogue wished we had taken the Greyhound because it had carpeted floors, but otherwise she just slept the entire way.

At the airport, we checked in our suitcases and then walked around. Our flight was delayed by an hour, so we had a lot of time to kill. We checked out the different shops, buying a navy blue hat with ‘Cessna’ written in yellow 🙂

Around 11:30am, we went to security. They wanted Huib to go through first and then help me on the other side. I had wanted him to stay with Rogue, so she wouldn’t feel as though she needed to break her stay, but you really gotta listen to the security people 😉

Poor Rogue was not happy with the request, but she waited in a sit-stay while I walked through the metal detectors towards Huib. I’m not sure what caused it, but the detectors went off, so I had to take off my belt this time and then go through again. I was taking too long and doing things Rogue wasn’t sure about, so she broke her stay and came through to me. To make things less stressful for her, one security person quickly felt her gear, while I held her leash and another person padded me down. It took a lot longer to get through security than it had in Toronto.

Huib had forgot to drink all of his lemonade, so once he got us situated, he had to go back through, drink the lemonade and then return. While he was gone, a lady came over to talk to me about Rogue. She told me she had a chocolate lab and that her friend raises puppies for a program. She asked how long I have had Rogue and when I said since she was eight weeks. She automatically assumed it meant I was able to be involved throughout her training, so I just agreed with her. I didn’t know who she was, so I didn’t want to cause any issues by clarifying that Rogue is an owner-trained service dog.

When we got close to the boarding area, we grabbed some lunch at Tim Hortons. Then, at 12:10pm, it was time to board.

The flight was pretty good. We experienced some turbulence a few times, especially during the last half hour, and there was a toddler who felt screeching was a good way of communicating, but otherwise things were good. After about two hours, I fell asleep for a bit, while Huib watched a movie.

At Pearson, we collected our suitcases and then went to catch a shuttle over to the Park and Fly lot where we had parked the car. Our drive home was a bit messy with a rain/snow mix, but Cessna was pretty excited to see us when we walked through the door!!

After we got the suitcases into the house, we went to pick up the goldens. Arizona was really happy to see us, and Canyon was excited to see me!! He was SO cute, jumping up and giving me kisses.

It was a great trip and I had a wonderful conference experience, but I am sure glad to be home!!

Working Dog Conference: Presentation Day

We skipped breakfast and part of the morning, so I could focus on my presentation and so Rogue could rest more.

When I ran through my talk with Huib before we left the hotel, I was at 25 minutes with a lot of pauses to find my spot. As long as my nerves didn’t get in the way, I thought this time would decrease by at least five minutes when the time came to present.

Most of the talks before lunch were a bit more technical than I’d like, but the final one was pretty interesting. The presenter was talking about the work they have been doing on finding an effective way of decontaminating dogs after they have been exposed to some sort of chemical hazard.

Lunch was kind of boring. The curry flavoured vegetable soup was good, but the salad was a bit annoying to eat because the lettuce was really thin and difficult to get on the fork.

After we finished eating, Huib ran Rogue outside and I went back to my seat to read my notes again. When they returned, we went on to the stage, so Huib could show me the podium and show me what direction to look.

The presentations after lunch were probably some of the more interesting ones at the conference. There were a couple on service dog breeding programs, then a couple on service dog activities. For example, Colleen talked about research she’s doing with a program here in Ontario that is working with veterans and emergency responders.

I would like to do research with an organization someday. For now, I’ll just keep working on trying to get my name known.

At the break, I ran to the washroom and then got a drink before returning to our seats to run through my presentation a final time with Huib – I was now down to 20 minutes!!

I was the second talk after the break.

When I was introduced, Huib walked up to the podium with Rogue and I. He then went to sit at a table nearby, so he could easily control my powerpoint. We bought a remote for my laptop, so Huib can sit in the audience and control the powerpoint without anyone really noticing.

I had a bit of trouble getting Rogue to settle, but she finally did and I began.

I started to get nervous about a minute in, but I was talking about myself at the time, so told myself to stop worrying. I know who I am, so I didn’t understand why I was so nervous. The self-talk seemed to help because by the time I had finished introducing myself, the butterflies were gone.

I think my presentation lasted about 15 minutes or so. The committee person didn’t ring the bell to tell me I had five minutes left, so I assume I wasn’t close to 20 minutes. I also asked Huib to send me a text when I got to five minutes.

Rogue stood up and tried to lie back down in a different spot, but I forgot to change where her leash attaches to the harness. As a result, she barely had enough room to lie down – Whoopsie!!

Huib suggests we buy her a mat and teach her to lie on it. He thinks it is probably strange for her to be at the front of the room with people staring at her, so he thinks the mat work might help her settle. I agree. We’ll do it this week, so I can teach her to use it by the end of May when I have another presentation.

I think this presentation was the best I’ve done so far!!

I had to remind myself where I was heading twice, but otherwise, I remembered the whole thing. I also really tried not to just present the information, but talked about it.

When I sat down, a couple people came over to congratulate me and to exchange contact information. I really hope some of the connections I made will turn into something in the future.

There were a couple more talks after mine. When everyone was finished, we all got ready to go up Sulphur Mountain. The gondola was only a 10 minute walk from Rim Rock, so Huib and I chose to walk.

While we were waiting in line a few people congratulated me on a good presentation. I also got some comments and questions about Rogue. A lot of people like her harness and enjoy watching us work together. I guess our bond is really noticeable to others 🙂

When we got to the front of the line, we climbed into the cable car and prepared to go up. The ride was smooth and very pretty. I wasn’t sure how Rogue would like being in something that she could see out of on all sides, especially since we were really high up, but of course, she could have cared less.

This little fox red lab is amazing!!

At the top, we got out of the cable car and went to look around. It was a bit too windy to be outside for too long, especially since I forgot to bring Rogue’s jacket, so we did it in stages. Huib said the view was pretty cool. We got several pictures of Rogue and i, and one of Huib, Rogue and I.

I am not sure if it was the fresh air, but Rogue was pretty excited!!

After we had seen everything outdoors, we went up to the bar to grab a drink. I had a Pepsi and Huib had a beer. We sat with one of the people from the Service Dog Committee and then a few speakers. Dr. Reynolds had talked about sled dog nutrition earlier in the day, so I was excited to be able to talk to him a little more about his research.

At 7:45pm we all had to get ready to go back down the mountain. While waiting for our turn, I got to talk to one of the Pen Vet people. She really likes Rogue’s harness because it allows her to move freely. She also complimented me on my talk and said she really likes how fit Rogue is. While we were waiting, Rogue began doing her nose bumps, or ‘look,’ hoping I would give her a treat. I used her desire for treats to extend her ‘look’ more – we are now up to six seconds!! Some people asked why she was bumping me, so I explained that it is her way of giving me eye contact since I cannot see her.

On the ride down, Huib and I were alone with Rogue. Huib got a couple cute pictures of Rogue looking out the windows at the view.

When we got back, we walked to Rim Rock to catch the bus. Since we had not yet had dinner, we walked over to Subway and got falafel subs. I wonder why Ontario locations don’t have that option…

I was pretty nervous about presenting at this conference, but I’m really glad I did it!!

Working Dog Conference: Day One

The hotel only had a continental breakfast, so once we were dressed and Rogue had eaten, we caught the bus to Rim Rock. The conference organizers put a breakfast on for the delegates.

At 9:00am the conference began. The first hour or so was taken up by introductory stuff from the organizers and the conference board. This conference was different from others I have attended because the talks were not broken into different sessions for people to pick from, everyone just attended all of the presentations. I think they said there were about 177 delegates from about 20 different countries.

Huib and I sat with Dr. Colleen Dell, a researcher from the University of Saskatchewan. I first met her a few years ago when I was deciding whether or not to attend Mac for my masters degree.

A lot of the talks were on different aspects of breeding, but there were a couple on body conditioning and a couple were about the early training of puppies to become a working dog. I liked the training ones and body conditioning the most. I found some of the presenters more interesting than others, but since the talks were only 15-20 minutes long, it wasn’t too difficult to sit through the ones that were outside of my understanding or interest.

At lunch we sat with a couple of people from Royal Canin, Canada. They are located just outside of Guelph, so they were familiar with where we live. One of the Royal Canin reps has a son with an autism service dog from Dog Guides Canada. She was interested in finding out about Rogue. I liked hearing about her son’s dog.

At night was the conference dinner. Huib and I sat with a couple people I knew from the Service Dog Standards Committee. It was nice to socialize with them outside of the stress of the committee meetings. At the meetings everyone tends to be on edge, wanting to push for their organization’s needs, but in this environment there is no stress. Dinner was okay. The chicken and pork was a bit dry, but the garlic mashed potatoes were tasty.

We couldn’t stay too late because I needed to continue memorizing my presentation notes, and I still had to prepare my powerpoint. When we got off the bus, we went for a bit of a walk to let Rogue stretch her legs and go to the washroom. It had been a really long day for her, so once we were back in the room and she had eaten, she quickly fell asleep. Even though she wasn’t actively working the entire day, often lying under the table, she still stays on alert, so a long day takes a lot out of her.

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.

Working Dog Conference: Calgary

Around 3:30am Friday, we woke up and began to get ready to head to the airport. Our luggage was packed, we just needed to add our toiletries after we were dressed. Once they were in, we secured the suitcases with zip ties and Huib put them in the car. While he was putting stuff into the car, I got the last of the stuff into a bag for the goldens to take to Mandi’s house, and double-checked that I had everything for Rogue.

We didn’t want anyone to have an accident before Dad woke up, so we left him food for everyone. Mandi was coming to get the goldens in the afternoon, so he just had to worry about them until she arrived.

Our trip to the airport was uneventful. We parked the car in a Park and Fly lot, then took a shuttle over to the terminal. We were glad we arrived on the early side because the baggage check-in line was really slow moving. At the front, they weighed our bags and then asked us to wait, so they could make sure the next people knew a service dog was coming. I’m not sure why they felt this was needed, but we had time to spare, so it wasn’t a big deal.

At security, I asked Rogue to sit and then I walked through. Huib planned to go after me, so that Rogue wouldn’t be worried about me leaving her behind. It worked out great. I thought they would ask me to take everything off her, but it didn’t happen, so when I called her through, she came running with her leash dragging behind.

We still had an hour or so to kill before we would be boarding, so we had some breakfast at Tim Hortons.

About 20 minutes before the plane was scheduled to take off, they began to board everyone. We were in zone five, or about the middle of the plane, so we got in line. Rogue was a complete professional about it all. She patiently waited beside me and then once we were on the plane and I removed her handle, she curled up for a nap. She woke up a bit when we first took off, but once she knew there was nothing to worry about, she fell back asleep.

I read through my presentation notes a couple of times during the first part of the flight, then fell asleep for a bit. I think even Huib slept some.

Once we began descending, Rogue woke up, so I gave her some treats. When it was time to get off the plane, she walked nicely at my side.

At the baggage area, we waited a short time for our suitcases. While waiting, they announced that a person’s carry-on had been mistakenly taken by another passenger. It was a black bag, so probably an honest mistake, but who knows because they were still making the announcement as we left the airport.

We got a shuttle from the airport to the hotel. We planned to see if we could drop the bags off, so we wouldn’t have to drag them around the city while we waited for our room, but we were pleasantly surprised to find out that we could check-in. The hotel had a room available on our floor, they assign all dogs to one floor, so they gave us an upgrade and we got a suite for two days!!

The room was great!! We had a small kitchenette with a sink, counter, table with chairs, a bar fridge and a microwave, a decent size living room with a TV, love seat and two chairs, then a bedroom with a king-size bed and a small bathroom. I thought it might be good to relax a bit before we went walking and for lunch, so we all settled in the living room. I read through my notes until I fell asleep, while Huib watched a bit of TV and dosed and Rogue slept on my legs and then in one of the chairs.

We walked for about three hours!! We checked out the mall and bought a few things. We walked the streets and along the pedestrian paths, stopping to take pictures in front of statues and to check out various stores. There were a lot of ‘interesting’ people along the way.

There was a woman walking along carrying her pants and shoes. I asked Huib if maybe he should stop and ask if she needed help, but he explained that there was another woman who appeared to be trying to help her. I guess he was right, because a bit later, we walked by them and she had helped the woman get dressed and was trying to convince her to come somewhere. At another spot, we passed a man loudly talking on his cell. It’s always funny to enter a conversation part way through. As we were passing, he said: “she got canned today too!!” Finally, there was another man talking on his phone, and as we passed by he was complaining to whoever he was talking to about the fact that he had been cut down to “just a pound and a half of medical marijuana.”

We then went back to the hotel for an hour to relax and drop our purchases off.

In the evening, we went for another walk. This time, we walked by the Bow River. It is a really nice spot to walk.

On Saturday morning, we woke up around 8:30am. The hotel had a breakfast buffet, so we got dressed and went down for food. It was a pretty good buffet. We had eggs, potatoes, grapefruit, orange juice and coffee. I had a croissant and Huib had a waffle. When we got back upstairs, Huib surprised Rogue with a couple of sausages to add to her pork rib breakfast.

I still needed to memorize my conference notes, so we spent a bit of time in the room before we went touring. We walked around Bow River, checking out the island in the middle. They created a really nice park on the island, with pedestrian bridges crossing over to it, so we walked around most of it. We also checked out some more stores. I almost bought a jacket for running, but it was only $20 off, so we decided to just wait because it was also on the bigger side.

For our last night in Calgary, we decided to go for a little bit of a fancy dinner. We walked around for over an hour and a half trying to decide where we wanted to eat, but there were too many options. Finally, we chose a place called The Gild. This place had caught our eye earlier that day because they had whole pig parts hanging in glass sided fridges to age. We thought it looked pretty interesting.

On the menu outside it listed meals from $40 to over $100. Once inside, we learned that the majority of the choices over $100 were meant to be shared, so I guess that actually isn’t too bad. When Huib read those options, he learned that they were 85% protein, so you got small sides and then a ridiculously huge portion of beef or something else.

I chose an applewood smoked half chicken meal that came with a cool poutine like side and grilled veggies. It was fries with chicken gravy, peas, shredded chicken and cheese – very yummy!! I also had a mimosa, a drink that contains champaign and orange juice.

Even though Alberta only recognizes program-trained service dogs, I did not get asked once about Rogue. The only comments I got were about how well-behaved and good looking she is.

Calgary is a pretty neat city. I think I would like to go back some day to see more of it.

Adventures in Running: Guide Runner

I have a guide runner!!

The University of Guelph is amazing to their alumni.

When my friend Jason heard Jess and I were trying to locate a guide runner for me, he talked to a disability advisor at the U of G, and they suggested I email Student Volunteer Connections. It took a bit of time for them to return my email, but when they did, things went pretty fast. We developed an ad, put it in their weekly newsletter and the following day, I got two responses. I emailed both students, but only heard back from one.

We met up for the first time on Wednesday morning.

D is great!! She has never guided, but she is very eager to learn.

To make things easier we met at my place. If we meet somewhere else, and Huib cannot drop me off, Rogue will need to run with us. Until we’re comfortable running together, it’s better if I don’t have her join.

D plotted out a 3.3 kilometre route. We began by just walking a few blocks. After we felt as though D had a good idea of what I need in terms of guiding, we started running 100 metres at a time. We ran about seven different times throughout the route.

We met again on Saturday morning. Even though it was about -12, we thought we’d still give it a shot. It wasn’t breezy, so -12 was quite comfortable, especially once we’d walked a few blocks.

This time, D plotted out a 4.1 kilometre route. In total, we ran about one full kilometre!! D said on average, we were running about 150 metres, 50 metres further than Wednesday!! Maybe it was the temperature, but I found it took less time to catch my breath after each period of running. D said that she felt I was doing a lot better.

Both days we were out for an hour.

Our next scheduled run is Wednesday morning.

Obedience with the Youngsters

It’s been a while, but we’ve finally returned to obedience class.

I would really like to try and earn the Pre-Novice Obedience (PCD) title this spring with Arizona.

If I can teach her consistent heeling and at least a one minute (30 seconds is actually required, but I’m thinking I should account for time needed to return and getting the leash back on) sit-stay, then we’ll be ready to trial.

Ari reliably performs a 25-second sit-stay at home. I need to extend this time, while also adding distractions and working outside the house.

As for heeling, it’s really a work-in-progress. She can do it when we’re at home, but add any sort of distraction in and she’s done.

From reading the CKC obedience rules, it looks like Arizona needs to earn three qualifying scores before she’ll get the PCD title.

Arizona absolutely LOVES Susie, so I didn’t expect great work. And, she didn’t let me down… She did her usual screeching and bouncing around, lol!! Once she’d efficiently greeted Susie, I took her into the training ring and began running through Sue Ailsby’s level 1 behaviours – sit, down, touch, ‘leave it.’ When we begin training sessions at home, I do this, and I think it helps to get her into “the game.”

Unfortunately, I’m not sure Susie was a big fan of the work we’ve been doing. Her biggest concern was with the way I tossed treats after clicking. For me, when I click, the behaviour is over and the dogs can go get their reward. I feel tossing the treat helps reset them because they have to come back and get into position again in order to receive a click/treat. Susie doesn’t want me tossing treats because she bellies it is not promoting a bond with me, and she thinks it will just encourage scavenging. I don’t agree with her assessment, but I will follow her request when we’re in her presence.

Susie and I use the clicker in similar, but different ways. When I click, the dogs know the behaviour is over, so they can move and go get their treat. For Susie, the click means you’re doing it right, but it doesn’t mean you’re done.

I’m going to stop using the clicker when I am with her, just using a verbal “good” or “yes” instead.

I want the dogs to continue seeing the click as an end to the behaviour and a time for reward.

I am leaving Canyon out of obedience classes for now. I need to work out some problems we’re having with the sit-stay.

Last week, we started our Sensational Stays class through the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, so I’m really hoping his issues will iron themselves out.

Rogue is coming to class with Huib. I wanted to do obedience with her, but she gets confused when I ask her to heel because I also require her to ‘leash-guide’ from time-to-time. As a result, Huib has offered to work with her and together they will try for the PCD.

From listening to the comments he received in class, I think the first goal for him will be to develop a working relationship with her.

Once Rogue knows that she needs to pay attention to him, I think the rest of the requirements will fall into place quickly.

Rogue already knows how to work. She just needs to realize that I’m not the only one who might ask her to perform cues.

Thankfully our next class isn’t for about 10 days because we’ve got lots of work to do.