Success and Struggles

On Saturday, Huib and Arizona made their CKC rally debut. They earned a qualifying score of 90 in the first trial, and 83 in the second. In the first trial, they primarily lost points because of a tight leash. Ari still gets distracted and sniffy in the ring. In the second trial, they lost points because of a tight leash, and because Huib went up the wrong side of the weaves – OOPSIE!!! Overall, it was a good experience.

Arizona sitting with a rosette attached to her collar.

This weekend, Ari will hopefully finish off her RO1, which is the UKC version of rally novice. She will attempt to complete her CKC RN at the end of the month.

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In training news. I have decided to stop training for the Victoria half marathon, as I was beginning to dislike running, and I really do not have enough time to train. Six weeks is really not enough time for anyone to train for such a long distance.

Instead, I have decided to go back to the beginning and work through one of Jeff Galloway’s training programs. I am going to work through his four week plan that will have me running a full mile. Once I complete that schedule, I’ll move onto his two mile plan. I’m hoping by taking a step back, I will find my love for running.

Sunday, was the first day of my new schedule. It went well. I did a five minute warm-up at 3.1 miles, then did four reps of 0.08 mi (or 100 m) at 4.8 and 0.16 mi (or 300 m) at 3.4, with a five minute cool down at 3.0.

My guide runner is back for the school year, so we got together on Tuesday. D, Rogue and I did a brisk walk warm-up, then did 100 m at a comfortable run and 300 m at a brisk walking pace, with a cool down at a less brisk pace. The weather was nice, with a comfortable temperature of 20 C. Both D and I over-dressed, wearing pants and long-sleeved shirts (I actually wore my jacket over a t-shirt), so by the end, I needed to take my jacket off.

On the weekend, Huib and I went to Mountain Equipment Co-op for new hiking boots and a day-pack for me to use when running with Rogue. I got a really comfortable pair of men’s black/grey Keens. I got a men’s pair, as they only had a limited number of women’s left. I am an 8.5 or 9, but they only had a 10.5 left. My new backpack is medium blue and has a hydration pack built in for summer. I needed a small pack that i could put Rogue’s harness into, while we ran, but that would not bounce around. I use my new pack on Tuesday, and it was perfect!!!

D and I get together again on Thursday.

*****

Last night we had field class. We arrived at 6pm and no one was really ready to work, so we took Ari over to a pond and did some bumper retrieves. I held her, asked her to “MARK,” and Huib tossed in two bumpers. I released her and she went to get a bumper. When she gave it to me, I asked her to “Find your mark, where’s your mark.” When she looked towards it, I released her. She easily swam over to it, so when she returned the bumper, I held her and Huib tossed three bumpers in. She was able to find two, but struggled a bit with the third, so we repeated the three-bumper toss. Ari did a lot better on her second attempt, so we ended the session with a fun bumper toss.

During class we worked on land retrieves. Susie had three gunner stations, so Ari did a double and then retrieved a single bird. She struggled with the double, but Susie told us not to worry, as it was a tough setup. To try and help her learn, Susie had us run through the exact same setup after a couple other dogs had run. Ari still found the double confusing.

Here are a couple pictures from her second run.

Arizona running through a field with a duck in her mouth.

Arizona handing me the duck. I am wearing black pants with an off-white jacket and a pink baseball cap.

We’ll get there someday…

Cessna Concerns & Other Crew News

An update on the members of the ruled by paws crew.

On October 30, Cessna turned 14. Over the past six months or so, she has begun to have hind end weakness and gastro issues. Added to all of this, her fur has become extra patchy and quite thin in spots. Despite all of this, Cessna’s mood has been good, and her activity level has been pretty high, considering her age.

Saturday, we took her to the vet, for an exam, and for a refill on her thyroid medication. A few days before the appointment, Cessna started to look as though she was declining. She was more unstable on her feet and her gastro issues were happening every day. Not sure what to do, Huib and I decided to stop all meds and supplements that were not completely necessary, such as her incontinence medication and golden paste. The incontinence med is known to cause diarrhea and the turmeric paste contains olive oil and appears to have stopped helping. We also switched her from a raw diet to canned Merrick food and steamed/mashed sweet potatoes. For months, we have wondered if the raw food is becoming too rich for her gaining system. We have played around with it, even moving to a pre-made raw, but nothing worked.

When Bianca came into the exam room, she was surprised by how much weight Cessna lost (she’s now about 51 lbs.) and with how thin her coat has become. We explained what has been happening, and described the changes we have been making over the past several months. Bianca suggested we do a blood test to check her levels in a variety of areas, as well as to have a urinalysis done. Huib set up an appointment for the blood draw to be done on Tuesday, as she did not have her thyroid meds early enough for the draw to be done at the exam. She also felt Cessna looked to be having some pain, so prescribed her 100mg of Gabapentin twice a day.

It has now been six days since her appointment, and Cessna seems to be improving. We aren’t sure if it’s because she is actually getting nutrient from her food, as she has not had problems in over a week, or if it’s the Gabapentin. She is moving around better, a lot less wobbly, and she continues to be interested in taking part in household activities. Since she isn’t taking her incontinence medication, she is having some leakage issues, but we just give her a quick wash and change the blanket or bed cover. We are still waiting to hear about the blood test results.

We are prepared for it to be bad news, but as long as Cessna is comfortable, we’re okay with where she is at. She will be 14.5 on the 30th, so we are not going to take any drastic measures to extend her life – it’s not fair to her. We are just going to enjoy the time we have left together. If the news is good, then that’s even better!!!

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I didn’t have an opportunity to post this last week, so we have the results of Cessna’s blood test and urinalysis. Among other values that are off, which can be explained by her gastro issues, Cessna has a very high cortisol level. Bianca said it is sort of like she is on steroids, but actually isn’t. She is concerned that Cessna may have Cushing’s Disease, so scheduled an ultrasound for this morning. Added to this, it looks like she may have a urinary tract infection, so once we have a better idea of what is going on, Bianca will probably prescribe antibiotics.

At 8:00am, we took Cessna to have her ultrasound. Bianca has an internal medicine specialist come in to do the ultrasounds, so we were hopeful he would give us an idea of what might be going on. After the ultrasound, Bianca’s tech brought Cessna back to us and said the vet would like to talk to us before we left. Huib was worried that something was seen on the scan, as it didn’t take them too long.

The good news, and not-so-good news, is that they did not see any problems on the scan. The doctor even took a look at her heart, which they said looks good. Bianca said we can’t totally rule out Cushing’s unless we do some more extensive testing, but given her age, we’re all in agreement that it’s better to just go the palliative care route, treating the symptoms. Once Bianca gets the report from the ultrasound, she’ll give me a call tomorrow to let me know what our next steps will be.

Before we left, she mentioned possibly putting Cess on Metacam with the Gabapentin (for pain), a low dose of estrogen (for her incontinence), and maybe an antibiotic for the UTI. Her concern regarding the antibiotic, is that Cessna had the runs last night, and cannot really afford to lose anymore weight, so she worries that antibiotics will further irritate her gut. I did some research last night on more natural UTI treatments, and learned that colloidal silver can be used. I am going to mention this possibility to Bianca tomorrow. Finally, she suggested we consider trying acupuncture with Cessna, as it is supposed to be a good treatment for pain, as well as in overall body wellness. The clinic’s current practitioner is leaving after next week, so we are going to wait until their new person starts in May.

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In puppy news. We are on day 18 from ovulation, assuming the AI was successful. We have scheduled an ultrasound for Arizona on May 5, so we can find out if she is pregnant. In the meantime, we’re just making sure she doesn’t over-exert herself, so no biking, and we’re feeding her a balanced diet with the appropriate supplements.

Even though Ari might be carrying embryos (at the moment), we’ve continued her tracking, field and obedience training. We want to make sure she stays fit, so we’ve also begun taking her for long walks (at least 5k) every other day, in place of her usual biking exercise.

I will continue to post puppy reports from time-to-time.

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Rogue and Canyon are both good.

Canyon continues to take 6.6mg of CBD twice a day. He had a mild seizure on April 12 – which means he made it 11 weeks without. 🙂

We decided not to increase his CBD at this time, since there were some factors which may have contributed to the seizure. For instance, Arizona was in heat and our weather was extremely unstable – including an upcoming ice storm. Hopefully he can go another long period without.

I’ve got nothing real special to report on about Rogue. She ran with me and my guide runner, S, yesterday evening. It has been a while since she was out running, as I did the race and then life got in the way of my training. We had some gorgeous weather over the weekend, so S and I made sure to find some time for a walk/run.

I used Rogue’s new running leash with her, and it worked nicely. She was a bit excited at first, so I had to keep her close, but after a bit, she figured it out.

S wrenched her knee Saturday, so she wasn’t sure how the run would go, so we decided to do a brisk walk for the first 1.5k. It also gave me a chance to stretch out my legs, since I hadn’t run in a while. We then picked up the pace, doing a light jog and brisk walk combination for the rest of our route. In total, we did 4.8k. We are going to try and get together again near the end of the week or over the weekend.

S has said she would like to do both of the runs I’m considering in June. The Solstice 5k is on June 21, in London, and then the Big Little Run is on the 24, at Guelph Lake. So far, I’ve registered for the Guelph Lake one, but will probably enter the Solstice 5k soon.

Until next time, enjoy the beautiful spring weather.

Arizona, Race Results and Other News

It’s been a bit since my last post.

On the breeding front. We are still waiting for Arizona to come in heat.

We thought she had started, but when we went to the repro vet on Saturday, we learned that she was pre-spotting – OOPS!!! I guess we learned something new. We had thought it was strange that she wasn’t swelling or bleeding as much, but thought maybe we were just not remembering how it all went.

It’s something she has never done, and the smear had some white blood cells in it, so the vet put Ari on 2-weeks of antibiotics – just to make sure nothing develops.

At least the appointment wasn’t a total waste of time. Arizona did get her brucellosis test done. I got a call yesterday to say the results were negative. 🙂

This morning Huib found some fresh blood on our bed, so maybe now she’s really started…?

We’re going to wait a couple of days, then make an appointment with the repro vet, if the blood continues. Breeding is definitely not a stress-free adventure!!!

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Now, for an update on running and swimming.

I have been able to regularly swim 1000 metres, which is VERY exciting!!!

Over the past week, I’ve been doing a mixture of short treadmill workouts and outdoor runs. I had to keep my muscles loose, while not pushing myself too hard.

On Sunday, I ran my first race of the year, and second race ever!!! It was the Around the Bay 5k.

Once D and I met up, we headed over to the start line. We were a bit early, so decided to warm-up a bit – jogging down to the 30k start line and then back. When the race started, we began with a jog/walk interval. My calve muscles were slightly sore the first 1.5k, so we didn’t want to push things too fast. It’s quite normal for my calve muscles to hurt when I start running, so I wasn’t too worried. At about the two kilometre mark, D and I picked up the pace.

Every once in a while, D checked her watch to see how we were doing, and for the most part, we were staying on pace to finish the race in 40 minutes. Our official time was, 41.07!!!

Here’s a picture Huib took of D and I running towards the finish line.

I was really happy with this result!!! I hope to do another 5k in late June. 🙂

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Miscellaneous news.

Canyon is still taking 0.4ml (or 6.6mg) of his CBD oil. So far so good. It has been about 62 days since his last seizure.

I don’t expect him never to have another seizure, but if we can get him down to having just a few a year, then I will be happy.

Rogue has been running with me and my guide runners about twice a week. She has become really good about staying close to my left side.

I currently use an over-the-shoulder leash with her, but I ordered a leash for running on Amazon. The lead is stretchy, so it should be easier for her to run with her leisure harness, and not have it shift as much. Huib added some padding to the girth strap on her harness, which also seems to be reducing the rubbing on her armpits. Before he added the padding, she got a couple strap burns – my poor girl!!!

I think she is really enjoying the runs, so I hope to continue with my new guides over the summer.

The temperatures have been a bit warmer over the past week, so Huib and the goldens have started biking. It was adorable to see how excited Arizona got when I put her reflective vest on. She was totally calm when the harness and light-up collar went on, but as soon as the vest was done up, she started bouncing around, lol!!!

It’s been a few months since they last went biking, so Huib has been taking it slow. The first trip out was about 2km for Canyon and closer to 3 for Ari.

They have gone out three times now, so Canyon is up to 3km and Ari is around 5, but moving quicker. Huib hopes to take them out a couple times this week, especially with the temperatures continuing to climb.

For Christmas, the goldens each got a light-up collar. Canyon’s is blue, while Arizona’s is pink. Huib says they work really well, so along with their reflective vests, I think they are going to be safe.

Cessna is almost 14.5 years old. She still appears to be enjoying life, but we are noticing an increase in hind end weakness. 🙁

To try and keep her safe, we’ve been closing our bedroom door, so she won’t be as tempted to walk up the stairs without us. We’ve also been keeping the gate closed at the top of the living room stairs. Despite this, every once in a while Cessna decides to go upstairs, or gets past us, and runs down or jumps down the last few steps. Sometimes, sadly not too often, she stays upright, but frequently she ends up sliding across the tile on her side or chest, as her back legs give out. 🙁

It’s tough to watch her age, especially since her mind doesn’t seem to be aging at the same rate. Cessna still thinks she’s young, and forgets to be careful.

I think that’s most of our updates from here. Until next time, try to enjoy the spring weather.

A Mix of Human and Canine

What’s new here? I’ve got a mix of stuff to mention, both human and canine.

You would think I’d learn to stay away from nuts, after my horrible gastrointestinal experience before Christmas, but I guess I’m a slow learner. Back in November or December, Huib and I made a trail mix of: almonds, cashews, peanuts, Craisins, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and peanut M & M’s. After eating almost half a large container over a few days, my system revolted. I honestly felt like I was dying from the inside out. After almost a week of problems, slowly improving as it went, I felt better.

I decided to stay away from the trail mix for a few weeks.

I then got out a tiny snack container and filled it with the mix, thinking it would be okay if I had just a tiny bit throughout the day. I did this about three times, leaving a day between, before my system said “STOP!!!”

You would think I’d learn, right?

Well, I didn’t…

I kind of forgot about the trail mix for a while. but remembered it a couple weeks ago. With my past gastrointestinal problems in mind, I thought I’d try just having a small amount, ignoring the seeds all-together. I had probably five cashews, a couple almonds and about seven peanut M & M’s. I thought it would be okay, but I was sadly mistaken!!!

On Monday, the second day of my system issues, I felt blah most of the day, but finally began to improve around late afternoon. Thinking it had been a while since I worked out, I decided to do a 30 minute treadmill walk at 3.5. My calf muscles were a little unhappy, but overall, it went well. At 9pm, Huib and I decided to head to the pool for a swim. I did 1000 m.

On Tuesday, M and I met for a run at 8:30am. We measured our final 2.2k loop using MapMyRun, and we did about a kilometre every 10 minutes. This is about the same pace as I was running last May, so I’m not too upset with the time.

At 2:00pm, we took Arizona to a new vet for a repro consult. Dr. Jones is a great dane breeder, who also feeds a prey model raw diet, so in addition to talking about what gets need to be done before breeding, we were able to discuss Ari’s diet. Other than adding 1mg of folic acid, just for prevention, she said to keep everything else the same. 🙂

Dr. Jones examined Ari and said she looks to be close to starting her heat cycle. This is about when we were guessing it would begin, so looks like she is on schedule. Once it starts, we’ll count to day seven and then take her in for her first progesterone and a brucellosis test.

Slowly, we are getting people on our waiting list, so it’s beginning to feel seriously real.

Huib signed me up for the Around the Bay 5k race on March 25th. With the iffy weather over the past couple months, I haven’t gotten as far as I had wanted, but I still think the race will go better than my Ottawa 10k last May. I have just under three weeks until the race, so I am going to work hard, and see if maybe I can get a time closer to eight minutes a kilometre. Even if I need to walk from time-to-time, I would like the majority of the route to be done at a run/jog.

*** My fingers are crossed for more favourable weather until at least the day after the race, so i can get some good outdoor training in. ***

On Friday, d and I got together at 4:30pm for a run. We walked to the trail and then across the street to the second part (about a half kilometre) before beginning a slow warm-up jog. He is trying to help me learn how to warm-up at a faster pace than just a brisk walk.

Once we crossed the third set of railway tracks, which meant we were on the third section of the trail, I turned on MapMyRun.

We tried to keep running the same distance, at a consistent pace, and then briskly walk for no more than 45 seconds. According to the app, we did about 3.2k in 28 minutes, with each kilometre taking around 8.5 minutes.

If I can brush off that 30 seconds and run at a consistent pace throughout the race on March 25th, then I will be extremely happy with my performance.

Yesterday, I did a 58 minute treadmill workout that focused on inclines. I did a five minute warm-up at 3.1, and was feeling good, so turned the speed up to 3.5, thinking I’d be able to do the inclines there.

I was a little to eager…

By the end of five minutes at incline level two, my calf muscles were very sore, so after five minutes at the usual incline (level one), I turned the pace down to 3.3.

My workout went, level 1, 2, 1, 3, 1, 4, 1, 3, 1, 2.

My calf muscles were feeling fine after I got through incline four, so I turned the speed back up to 3.5 and finished the rest of it. I completed the workout with a three minute cool down at 3.0.

At 9pm, Huib and I went to Victoria Road for our usual swim. The clock at the pool wasn’t working, so we weren’t able to time my first 500 m.

It was busy for most of our time in the pool, so I was sadly not able to work on rolling to the side to breathe. I am still stopping and raising my head to breathe, which often makes me turn and also makes me lose momentum. I did work on my push-offs from the wall, Huib showed me how to better hold my arms/hands, so I become more aerodynamic.

In total, I did 1050 metres!!! My arms were a bit sore the first 200, but after that, I felt good. I think I could have probably done another 100 or so, but we ran out of time.

Today, M and I ran at 8:30am. We did our usual route with Rogue, encountering only one other dog near the end. Usually, we see at least a few. The woman asked if my dog was friendly, and I said “yes,” but kept Rogue’s attention on me, just in case the other dog was not. When the woman saw me using a treat to keep her attention, she said “oh, you’re training her.” I guess she thought I was using the treat to train, and didn’t realize I was using it to keep her face close to my side, and out of the reach of the other dog. After we were far enough away, M said she thinks it might have been the dog who barked in Rogue’s face a few weeks ago, lol!!!

Rogue wears a casual harness and, right now a winter coat, not her working harness, when we’re running, so people can’t tell she’s a service dog – which is part of why I’m so cautious about what dogs say hello.

Our route is about 4.5 kilometres, which usually take about an hour. Today, we made it back to the bus terminal within an hour, making it to an earlier bus than usual, so we’re guessing our run was faster. It was really windy, especially on the second half of each loop, so I felt as though I might have been slower, but I guess I was wrong.

My legs and calves felt good today, but with the wind, I had more trouble catching my breath between runs. I’m hoping that I will some day figure out how to more effectively breathe while running.

About a month ago, we started Cessna and Canyon on cannabis oil from a place called Farmacy in Victoria, BC. Cessna is taking it for arthritis, while Canyon is using it for his epilepsy. I have slowly raised their dose, and they have been taking about 0.2ml twice a day, which for their bottle equals about 6.6mg of CBD twice a day. We had two bad weather weeks, and even though Canyon tends to have seizures during such weeks, he made it through without one!!! Maybe it was a fluke, but it’s been over a month since his last, so the weather issues would have normally caused him to have a seizure, especially with him being so close to his usual schedule. I will keep updating everyone from time-to-time on how it’s going.

It’s been a week since Arizona’s repro vet consult, and still no heat cycle, so I’m guessing it’ll start any day now. It’s when you want it to start, that they take their time, lol!!!

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.

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.

Meet the Breeds

Meet the Breeds at the Oakville & District Kennel Club show was a success.

Despite having an issue with where our booth was located, we had 26 breeds take part and have fun.

On Saturday, we had to be at the International Centre by 8:00am – YAWN!!! Huib and I donated a prize for the golden retriever winner of Best of Breed, so that’s why we had to be there so early.

When we arrived, we parked beside a van with several carriers holding cats. Arizona was freaking riveted!!!

If she had a conversational bubble above her head, I think it would have said something like: “This is fr-eaking AWESOME!!! We are going to a CAT PARTY!!!” LOL!!

Poor Ari did not get her wish. Instead of going to a cat party, we went to a dog gathering, lol!!

It took us a bit to find our club members, who then directed us to where Meet the Breeds would set up. While I waited in the booth space, Huib ran out to the car to begin bringing stuff inside. Before he returned, I had a woman come over to tell me our booth was actually supposed to be on the other side of the hallway, so our club president and I moved stuff over. You would think that would be the end of the discussion, but it was not to be. After we had set everything up, a guy came over to tell us to move our booth to another spot across the hall – OMG!!!

I guess this was the real spot, as we weren’t asked to move again – thank goodness.

To give some of the smaller or less dog-social breeds some space from others, we put a divider up for one section of the booth. In that part, I set up our grooming table, so some of the smaller breeds could sit or lie on it while greeting the public.

Each hour, we had three different breeds come to help out at the booth. I think it ran pretty smoothly.

We brought the goldens out whenever the booth was quiet, such as when a group had to leave before the hour was up. They seemed to enjoy the public attention, and didn’t mind hanging out together in their double-sized canvas crate. Rogue spent a lot of time walking around the booth with me, while I greeted the different volunteers and their dogs. When I paid attention to the dogs, she quietly stood behind or beside me, until I was ready to move on.

I think she was a terrific owner-trained service dog ambassador and demonstration of a great working lab.

I took the time to meet each dog and talk to their human about the breed and the work some of their dogs do. I learned a lot about the structure and purpose of different breeds, as well as the differences between some of the more similar breeds, like the English Setter versus the Irish Setter.

By the end of the day, our crew was pretty tired, so all of us had a good night’s sleep.

On Sunday, we didn’t have to go to the show as early because our booth was already set up.

When we arrived at 9:45am, we noticed that our smaller section was gone. Someone had not only taken away the divider, but also removed the curtains and extra railing that creates a booth. I was a bit worried how some of the smaller breeds would do with the bigger dogs, but overall I think it went okay.

I had a few complaints about lack of space to move around in the booth, but they were pretty rare.

Nothing really different took place from the day before, except that we had a few breeds change. Some volunteers from Saturday were unable to attend Sunday, so their spots were filled by people who could not attend Saturday.

One of the bulldog owners also has one of the newer sporting breeds, so about 30 minutes into her spot, she exchanged dogs. The Lagotto Romagnolo is a small, sturdy dog with a curly, wooly, a sort of poodle-feeling coat.

Unlike on Saturday, we had a few more quiet times, so the goldens got to greet more people. Usually, people seem to be drawn to Canyon, but this weekend, a lot more people asked us about Arizona. We even handed out a couple of my business cards to people interested in a possible puppy.

By 4:00pm, I was glad to be done and we were all ready to head home.

I really think the public likes having an opportunity to touch and ask about the different breeds. I also think the owners like talking about their dogs. Maybe every show should have a booth like this, so that more people will want to attend a dog show.

Quiet Week

It has been a pretty quiet week. A nice break before we start our jam-packed September.

On Monday, we went to Victoria Road for their 9pm swim. I felt sluggish and sort of non-floaty. It didn’t seem to impact my speed though, as I swam 500 m in 29 minutes, and then did another 200 m in 14.

I think I need to stop drinking XL coffees before I go swimming. I always seem to feel heavy afterwards, even though I make sure I have it an hour or so before.

My 10 year old navy blue Roots bathing suit has been officially laid to rest in our garbage bin. 😉

It has been looking a bit tired, with the elastic disintegrating, but I thought it would last a bit longer. When I wore it, Huib noticed some balling and a bit of separating of materials, so it’s gone. 🙁

On Sunday, Huib, Rogue and I went to the Cambridge Centre to shop for a new bathing suit. The Bay had a sale on their Roots and Speedo suits, so I was hoping to find one I liked. The Sears in the mall is one of the closing locations, so a lot of their stuff is on sale. Huib and I decided to look there first, just in case we could find something cheap.

We didn’t find any bathing suits, but we did buy some blank cards with beagle puppies on them. Huib also bought me a sterling silver ring that has intertwining hearts on it. I am not a huge jewellery person, but I like it!! I only tend to wear my wedding ring and some diamond studs, so it will take a bit of time to get used to the second ring. I also used to wear a necklace with my engagement charm and promise ring on it, but my last one broke, so I haven’t had a chance to replace the necklace.

At The Bay, we found several bathing suits that interested me. After trying a few on, we settled on two. One was a navy blue Roots one and the other was a black Speedo with teal straps.

Even though the Speedo was in the same size as the Roots one, it was on the tight side. 🙁 From talking to a friend who buys a lot of bathing suits, I learned that Speedos tend to be sized smaller, so it’s really not uncommon to need a larger size than usual. She said that it’s a good brand for swimming in pools because it will last better in the chlorine.

After talking to the store clerk, we learned that we could order the Speedo in a larger size, so I ordered it. It should arrive some time next week.

While I wait for my new Speedo to be delivered, I will wear my teal Roots one. It is also close to 10 years old, but not quite as old as my navy one. The elastic is disintegrating a bit, but it will be okay as a back-up until I get a new one to replace it.

On Wednesday, we tried to wake up for the 6:30am swim. When I went to let the dogs out and then returned, Huib had rolled over and returned to snoring, lol!! I think we’re going to give up on the early morning swim times, as we really don’t seem to ever make it, and then I have trouble going back to sleep.

We went to the 9pm swim. I felt less sluggish, but still did not feel as though I swam as smoothly. I guess I was wrong though, as I did 500 m in 28 minutes!!! That’s a whole minute faster than my best time so far!!! I then did another 200 m in 14 minutes.

For now, we are just keeping track of the first 500 m. Once I can swim 500 m in 20 minutes, then I will add to the distance we track.

Huib says one day when it isn’t as busy at the pool, I should try swimming 1000 m. He feels I can do it easily, if I slow down a bit.

My nose plug snapped, so I had to purchase a new one. I got a wire one this time, as my plastic one did not last very long. Huib also bought some goggles, so the chlorine won’t bother his eyes so much. It will be easier for him to watch me, while he swims on his stomach. So far, he’s been sticking to his back, so that he can watch me, but that position really tires out his legs and arms.

We tried to go swimming last night, but the Westend pool is under renovations until October. Huib didn’t notice any posters announcing the closure when we were there last week, so we were surprised. It means I will have to do the 50 m swims at Victoria Road on Thursdays for now.

**********

Tuesday’s field class was pretty good. We started out with land retrieves.

Arizona’s first retrieve went well, but then she had some difficulty with the second. The duck was down in a bit of a valley, so when she ran out, she went a bit short and then couldn’t figure it out, so ran back towards me. Huib met her halfway, and helped her figure out where the duck was located. I think the next time this happens, she will not have as much of a problem finding the bird. Huib says that in addition to the bird being down in a bit of a valley, it was also up wind, so she didn’t catch the scent. I think her tracking work will help her overcome the scent issue. It will just take some time and experience.

She did well on her final land retrieve.

Over to the water…

Arizona did not want to go into the pond at first, so taking a bit of a gamble, Huib picked her up and tossed her in. He had to do it twice, but it worked. She swam over to the decoys and thought about grabbing one, so I quickly told her to “leave it,” and she continued onto the bird.

I say, “he took a bit of a gamble,” because Arizona can be sensitive about some things, so you never know how she’s going to react. If things had gone wrong, she could have ended up refusing to enter the water completely, and gotten nervous around us.

Ari’s second retrieve went well. she barely hesitated, before jumping in to get the duck.

I worked really hard on not touching her neck to find her mouth. Arizona did a great job of handing the bird right to me. We will continue to work on this at home.

In order to get in some extra training before our three junior hunt tests, we’re taking Ari to work at Susie’s over the weekend. She won’t be available to work with us, but I’m hoping the extra swimming time will make things less worrisome for her. I think I may also bring Rogue along to provide some competitive pressure. Even though my little red lab doesn’t enjoy swimming, she will do it with her life jacket on.

On Wednesday, we’re also going to join another field group. It will be interesting to see who trains with Susie at other times of the week. I am also thinking it will be good for Arizona to work around some other dogs and people, but who knows, maybe she already knows everyone. 😉

Back in August, we signed up for two courses through the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Sadly, we haven’t had a lot of time to work on the courses. One of the courses is a gun dog one that focuses on water training. I thought I would read through the lectures and forums, to see if maybe there were some suggestions on how to work past a dog’s lack of confidence in the water.

I didn’t see any solutions for our particular problem, but I did read about some things to train that might help.

First, the instructor says everyone should teach a “go swim” cue. I guess it can be used to stop dogs from going to the shore to soon, and can also be used to get them jumping in. I’m just not sure how to incorporate the cue into our current release cue, so it won’t be a problem at tests. I’m thinking you can probably not say: “Go Swim… Fetch!!” I would assume that to be not allowed, but maybe I’m wrong. I wonder if it will be enough to just say, “Arizona, Fetch!!,” in an excited voice…

I guess we can try it out on Sunday.

The other thing I read about, was teaching hazards. Training dogs to be comfortable walking on, jumping over, sitting on, etc., all surfaces and stuff. So, I’m wondering if this might be our answer.

I am thinking we might have neglected to train her to be comfortable walking, running, jumping or sitting on enough surfaces, textures or objects… I think we just assumed she’d be okay because she appears extremely brave and curious.

We have a bit of time to try and catch-up her hazard training. Maybe it’s time to make a list of the things she should work around before the 16th.

Just over 14 days before Ari tries to earn the first two legs towards her JH.

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.