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.

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.