Away Awhile

Boy, it’s been a while since I last blogged.

The tracking and field seasons have started.

In field, Arizona has finally, possibly, overcome the water issue that has been plaguing us for more than two years!!! We have been training for about four weeks now, and she has not refused to enter once – Good Girl!!!

In addition to our usual Tuesday classes, we have started taking Ari to Sunday sessions in Wyebridge. We can’t do it every week, as Huib sometimes needs to work, but we try to go as often as possible. I think it might be helping her, as she’s working around different people and a variety of dogs.

This weekend, we have entered two junior hunt tests. I would love to finish her title, but I’d be satisfied with even just one good quality pass.

If Ari continues to work well in the water, I would really like to have her do her WC (working certificate) in the US, as well as earn her WCI (working certificate, intermediate) here in Canada.

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On the tracking side of things.

All three dogs are facing challenges, but they still seem to enjoy themselves and don’t give up.

With Rogue, we are going to take a step back, and try tightening up her searching and get her to be more persuasive when she knows she’s right. At times, Rogue goes back and forth in a very wide pattern across the track, making it easy for her to miss an article or possibly even a turn. In addition, at times, she is not a confident dog, so I need to work on this. I need her to feel confident enough in tracking, that when she feels she knows we are going one way, versus another, then she needs to put a good amount of pressure on the line, so know what she is telling me. Sometimes, when she is not completely sure, her indications will be difficult for me to read, so I need this to change. Since we will not be entering any tests until the fall, Laura is going to work with us to fill in these gaps we’ve found.

With Arizona. Now that she has her TD, we are introducing hard surface and other urban features. So far, she is doing well, but finds contamination difficult to work with.

Finally, with Canyon. Huib is seeing improvement, but he is still a bit frantic or overly excited. With lots of practice and repetition, I think he’ll be ready to enter a test in the fall.

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Usually in the spring we stop obedience classes, but this year we have decided to continue. Ari is doing well. We are working on fronts, stands and automatic sits when I halt. Her stays are great, and her heeling on leash is coming along. I think our obedience work will help us in the next levels of hunt and field, as she will need to start working off leash when coming to line and honouring while the next dog does their first retrieve.

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On the breeding front. It sadly appears as though the breeding did not take. 🙁

We did an ultrasound on day 30, and the vet did not see any puppies. Ari seems to show some signs of possible pregnancy, but not enough to be able to say yes or no.

We are leaning towards no though.

We will retry in early December, when Ari comes in heat again. If that breeding is successful, her puppies will be born on, or near, our 13th wedding anniversary, which I think is pretty cool!!!

Stay tuned.

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On the personal fitness front.

I had to buy new jeans a month ago, as mine are getting to be way too big. I am now wearing a size 10-12 in jeans, which is pretty darn exciting!!!

I haven’t been swimming too often over the past couple of months, but I have been walking lots and running when I can get out with my guide. Now that the Cessna stress has calmed down for the time being, I hope to return to regular swimming.

To keep Ari fit for future puppies, we have been taking her for brisk walks that tend to be over five kilometres long. She usually goes biking that distance, but since we weren’t sure if she was pregnant, we didn’t want to have her biking.

I entered a 5k race for June 24th, and I am still considering one on the 21st. I just need to get in some more runs, or I don’t think I’ll be ready to run an entire race…

The temperatures are getting warmer, so my body needs to adjust to that as well.

Before I go, here’s a quick update on Cessna and Canyon.

In my last post, I told everyone about how Cessna’s having some health issues. We have chosen to go with palliative care, as opposed to trying to fix things.

Cessna has been taking 100mg of Gabapentin twice a day, along with Metacam in the morning. She also gets her thyroid medication twice a day and a hormone every few days for her incontinence. We had hoped to only use the hormone once a week, but she seems to need it every three days. For her UTI, we have been giving her colloidal silver three times a day. We will be taking in a urine sample tomorrow, to see if the infection has cleared after three weeks of taking the CS.

Cessna has good days and not so good ones. On her good days, Dad takes her for short walks in the park, where she likes to sniff and run around a bit. On her not-so-good days, we keep her safe and comfortable. For now, her bad days aren’t too bad, they just aren’t ones where she should be going to the park. On the bad days, her hind end gives out more and she is more wobbly on her feet.

As for Canyon and his seizures. He has not had one since April 12th, so we have kept him on the same dose of CBD oil, 6.6mg twice a day. This weekend will be a bit of a test, as we need to leave him home with Rogue, while we take Arizona to her hunt tests. Canyon often gets anxious when we are gone for long periods of time, but we’re hoping the CBD will keep the seizures at bay.

I hope everyone is having a great spring. I will try and write more, especially since we’re getting busier with training.

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.

Success!!!

What a week!!!

On Monday, I completed a short treadmill workout. I did a five minute warm-up at 3.1, 30 minutes at 3.6 and a two minute cool down at 3.0. I felt pretty good, especially when I was able to do a full 30 minutes at 3.6.

In the evening, Huib and I went to the 9pm fitness swim at Victoria Road Rec Centre. The weather was icky, so the pool was pretty quiet. As a result, we had the entire lane to ourselves.

I felt a bit sluggish, but pushed myself hard to complete 500 metres in 22 minutes!!! I then did another 700 m, which is 100 m more than I have ever done!!!

On Tuesday, I met up with M and we did a 5k route. The path downtown that we have chosen is quite clear, but only 2.5 kilometres there and back, so we did it twice. We ran for 45 seconds and walked for 60-90 seconds. It took a bit longer to calm my breathing when we went into the wind, but overall, I thought it went well.

On Wednesday evening, I met up with another guide runner for the first time. D mapped out a different trail – I think it’s called the Royal Trail or something similar. To get to know one another, we walked most of the trail. The trail is sort of broken into three different sections, with three railway crossings and a road to navigate. It is pretty well cleared and lit at night, so it was a good spot to work.

Once we got to the end of the trail, we ran and walked to the first railway crossing, then did that section again. On average, we were running for 50 seconds and walking about 60-90 seconds. We crossed over the railway and did a mixture of walking and running. After we crossed the final railway, we did more running and walking. We did the final section two times as well. I’m not really sure how far our route is in total, with all the doubles, but I hope to have D help me measure it tomorrow.

On Thursday, Arizona and I had obedience class with Susie, We worked on heeling, stays and recalls. Ari got a bit confused between her stays and recalls, so we practiced those a bit more. Other than being distracted by Huib, our little girl did well.

On Friday morning, D and I got together at 9:15am downtown. We planned to work on the same trail. D was great, he pushed me in spots and suggested we hold back in others. D ran track and cross country in high school, so has been able to recommend areas for improvement, and I think he’ll be good at pushing me to work harder. On the trail, we ran for about 55 seconds, sometimes a bit longer, and walked for about a minute, or until I could easily talk.

In the evening, Arizona and I took part in an obedience fun match. We did two runs. I think our first run went a bit better than our second, but neither one was too horrible.

On the weekend, Arizona and I did our first official obedience trial.

Saturday, we did two pre-novice runs and passed in both!!! Arizona’s stays were perfect and her recalls were good, but we definitely need to work on her heeling. The primary comment we got on our score sheet, was regarding her lagging and sometimes forging. Huib said she was looking for him a lot, but even when she looked like she wasn’t paying attention, she did what I asked.

On Sunday, we had two more runs. My main goal was to have her sit whenever I asked and to come right to me and sit for the recalls, not just stand near me.

Our first trial was awesome!!! Arizona was looking for Huib, but sat every time I asked and did a beautiful recall – Good Girl!!! She lagged and forged during the heeling patterns, but those are things we can work on.

With this performance, she got a passing score and earned her pre-novice obedience (PCD) title!!!

Our second run did not go as well. Arizona was pretty distracted and I wasn’t as good about keeping an eye on my dog. I was not as comfortable with the judge, so paid more attention to my own movements – Bad Handler!!! Ari did her recall well and had perfect stays, so I was proud of her anyway. If I hadn’t failed my girl, maybe things would have been a lot better.

Susie said we’ll start having Huib in the ring while we work, so Ari will get used to having him nearby. We are hoping this work will help with her distraction a bit. I also need to work on keeping her focus on me, and less on the environment. I’m sure all of this will come with time and practice.

Overall, I thought this was a successful weekend. Not only did we earn a title, but we also got to socialize with some of the golden people we’ve met online. We also got to catch-up with people we haven’t seen in a while. Arizona was very well-behaved, even when she was tired – Good Girl!!!

On a side note, Huib and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary on Sunday as well. We didn’t really do anything special, but did something pretty usual for us, attended the obedience trial, lol!!!

It is hard to believe we’ve already been married for 12 years. It has been quite an amazing ride so far, so I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future.

Hopefully this week is a bit less chaotic,

10 Days In

We are now 10 days into the new year. The temperatures have risen and the weather is a bit wonky, so my migraines have been a constant problem. I am hoping things will even out soon.

On the workout front. I’ve been doing a really good job.

Last week, I did three treadmill workouts. I did one that was about 47 minutes long and focused on inclines. I did a five minute warm-up at 3.1, 40 minutes at 3.3, during which I raised and lowered the incline level every five minutes. It went like this: incline level 1, 2, 1, 3, 1, 4, 1, 3. I then finished off the workout with a two minute cool down at 3.0.

My next workout was 37 minutes. I had a nasty migraine, but felt guilty doing nothing, so once my extra meds kicked in, I did an easy workout. I did a five minute warm-up at 3.1, then 30 minutes at 3.5, with a two minute cool down at 3.0.

Over the weekend, I wanted to work on endurance, so did a 60 minute workout. I did a five minute warm-up at 3.1, then 50 minutes at 3.5 and a five minute cool down at 3.0. I wanted to do the entire workout at incline level two, so started out there, but 10 minutes in, I got a cramp in my lower calf muscles. I didn’t want to give up, so continued to work at incline level two for another 15 minutes, before lowering it to level one. My calf muscle cramp went away five minutes before I switched. The final 35 minutes of the workout was done at incline level one.

I think endurance is going to be the hardest part for me in my training. Often, I get bored or too warm, so want to stop the workout. I have started listening to dog training podcasts while I train, so I am hoping that will help with the boredom. I am thinking about buying a small fan to clip to my treadmill for times when I get too hot.

So far this week, I have swam once and done one treadmill workout.

On Monday evening, Huib and I went to the Victoria Road 9pm fitness swim. I haven’t swam in over a month, so wasn’t sure how it would go. I felt great!!! The pool wasn’t overly busy, so I did 1000 metres!!!

The first 500 m took me 24 minutes, while the second 500 m took me 26. I was really happy with these times.

We plan to swim at least twice a week.

Last night, I did an easy treadmill workout. I did a five minute warm-up at 3.1, 30 minutes at 3.5 and a two minute cool down at 3.0.

I have sent an email to Student Volunteer Connections at the University of Guelph to see if I can put an ad into their newsletter for a guide runner. I would like to start running outdoors again. I haven’t yet tried running on the treadmill, but know I’ll have to do it soon. I just wish I could find a guide runner, so I can avoid treadmill runs. 😉

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On the dog training front.

It has been a pretty quiet 10 days. We have done some work on engagement and a bit of obedience work, but nothing too major. Tomorrow, we have our first obedience lesson of 2018. I think Ari and I will practice her stays and recall, then maybe later we can go to TSC or another pet-friendly store to do some heeling.

Huib helped me enter her into an obedience trial happening at the beginning of February in Hamilton. I’ve entered her into four trials, so my goal is to earn passes in at least two of the four trials. I really think we can do this!!!

I need to motivate myself to do more regular training sessions again, so I joined a Facebook group called 28 Days to Awesome Dog Training Habits. We’ll see how it goes.

For readers who are not on Facebook with me, here’s a link to a picture of Arizona holding a root beer cooler. I got her to hold it as sort of a training experience, since it’s cold and I was getting her to do it in a down on her dog bed.

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.

Hunt Test Success

It was a good hunt test weekend.

On Saturday, Arizona did two beautiful land retrieves. Huib said she ran out and ran back faster than she has done before. He thought she looked quite flashy!!

Over lunch, we met some people and got to reconnect with others from last year.

While waiting for Air’s turn in the water, Huib and I met a woman who has an 18 month old female golden, whose sire is the male we are considering for Arizona in March. Shelby is a very nice looking girl, who loves the water and to retrieve.

After meeting her, and Anne’s Teal, we are really hoping Arizona is found clear for ichthyosis, so she can be bred with Kip.

When it was Arizona’s turn for water, I got her set up and ready to go. The judge did their duck call, the gunner did theirs and then shot the gun as they tossed the duck into the pond. Once the judge said “dog,” I released her.

She ran 10 feet into the pond and laid down. I told her “fetch,” and she walked a couple more feet before lying down again. She then got up and walked along the water a bit, looking around. At this point, I knew we were done, which was confirmed when the judge suggested I call her back and resend. He felt it would be good to get something out of the opportunity.

I’m not sure why, but it took a bit to get her to return to my side. Once she did, the judge asked the gunner to do the duck call again, so I could resend and Ari would know where to go. She jumped into the water and began to swim towards the bird.

The duck was about 70 or so feet away, and she had to swim through a channel to get there. In training, we have never done channels or retrieves this far, so when Ari got through the narrowing, she lost sight of the bird. The gunner tossed a rock into the pond and she swam over to the bird, returning it back to me.

I don’t think the distance was an issue, but we will definitely need to work on swimming through channels.

Huib also says I need to work on my tone of voice more. He thought I sounded a bit too suggestive when asking Arizona to come back to me. He doesn’t think it would have made a big difference in the results, but maybe there’s a 20-30 percent chance things could have turned out better.

Even though we were unsuccessful, I learned some things we need to work on, so the trip was definitely worthwhile.

On Sunday, Arizona did two beautiful land retrieves – GOOD GIRL!!!

Huib overheard one of the judges saying they liked her look, so that was pretty neat. Another cool thing about the judges, was that one is the breeder of Kip.

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As a side note, when the day was over, I got a chance to talk to her about potentially using him, and she said that he would bring some good things to Arizona’s puppies.

I am getting pretty excited about breeding her, but then I’m also really nervous.

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As we were walking back to the car, a few other handlers complimented me on Arizona. I think she’s a pretty fun dog to work with, but she can also be really frustrating. 🙂

While the other dogs had their turn, I sat with some of the handlers and we chatted about… dogs. 😉

Arizona stayed with us, so that she wouldn’t bark and bother the other dogs as they worked. She was pretty good about lying beside me, but after a while got bored and whined. At one point, a dog in the senior hunt group walked by and tried to start an argument. Huib was holding Arizona’s leash at the time and said she did nothing, just moved a bit when the dog got really in her face – GOOD GIRL!!!

After lunch, we all went to see where we’d be working for water. I was a bit nervous about the fact we would be using a different pond, but I also knew I couldn’t control the situation, so just needed to stay calm.

When it was Ari’s turn, we walked up to the shore and got set up. The judge and gunner did their thing, but the bird did not make much of a splash. At first, the judges felt it might be okay, so gave me the signal to release her. I did and she walked about 10 feet in and laid down. As she was lying down, the judges had decided to call it a “no bird,” because they thought it was unfair to make a junior dog work without a splash, as it wouldn’t give them enough of a visual. They asked me to call her in and got another dog to come and retrieve the bird.

We returned to the blind and waited to be called back to the line.

When it was our turn, I got her set up, and released her when I got the sign.

She ran right into the water and jumped in – YAY!!! She swam directly to the bird and then came right back and gave it to me. I did the same thing with the second bird and she handed it directly to me -GOOD GIRL!!!

Arizona isn’t a fast or flashy swimmer, but she can get the job done.

As a result of her work, she PASSED, earning her first JH leg.

Here’s a picture of her and I posing with her rosette.

For my blind readers: I’m wearing a black long-sleeved shirt, black pants, grey shoes with pink laces, black Oakley sunglasses and my black hat that has CESSNA written in yellow. I think the rosette is green and brown, but I could be wrong. We’re in front of a rock. I’m kneeling with her sitting in front of me.

Oh yeah, as we were about to leave, the club members remembered that they still needed to do the draws for the 50/50 draw and the gift basket. They asked me to pick a ticket first and I picked out my own ticket. Then, they asked another person to pick a ticket, and he picked me again, lol!!!

Who knows how we’ll do, but as long as nothing comes up, we’re going to enter her into another hunt test on Sunday. It’s at the same location, so I’m hoping she’ll do okay. The owner of the place seems really friendly, so I may ask if we can take her for a short dunk in the pond during lunch, see if we can overcome the initial need to lie down.

In the meantime, it’s going to be a busy week for us. Tonight, we’ll go swimming at 9pm. Tomorrow, Arizona has field class, and afterwards, D and I are going to go for a walk. On Wednesday, I’m going to attend the first day of the Canadian General Standards Board’s Service Dog Committee meeting over the phone. At night, we’re off to Ottawa until Saturday morning, so I can attend the other two days in-person. Saturday, we’ll go tracking with our friend Michelle and her English Springer, Cameron, before heading home.

Until next time, stay safe and have fun!!!

Ankle Update

It’s been 12 weeks and 4 days since my ankle injury took place.

On Wednesday, Huib and I went to the 10:30am fitness swim at Victoria Road. We did 700 metres total. As mentioned in my last post, I’m only keeping track of the times for the first 500 for now, so I did it in 34 minutes. This is six minutes slower than my fastest time of 28 minutes, but it’s not horrible.

My new Speedo arrived on Tuesday evening, so I got to wear my new bathing suit to the pool. I like it!!!

On Thursday, we went to Victoria Road’s 11:00am fitness swim. Again, we did 700 metres total, but this time, the first 500 metres were done in 29 minutes!!!

My arms were pretty tired by the end of our swim. Huib said it seemed as though I was doing a lot of ploughing through the water, instead of gliding through. My arms had trouble coming out of the water for some reason.

At 2:45pm, I went to see my family doctor about my ankle. It has improved tons, but it is still not perfect, so I wanted to know if she suggests an x-ray to make sure all is okay, or if she just thinks it will take time.

She has given me a requisition for an x-ray. Next week, Huib and I will go by the hospital to have it done.

She has recommended I keep swimming, but be careful with my left ankle when I kick and push off the wall. She also suggested I avoid running, biking or using the elliptical for another month, and maybe start walking a bit.

D is back and has offered to be my walking buddy – yay!! As long as I get back early enough on Sunday, we’re going to start walking.

I will let you all know what the x-ray says, and continue to keep you posted on my recovery.

Field, Field, and More Field

Lots of field adventures.

On Sunday, Huib and I took Arizona, Rogue and Canyon to Susie’s to get some extra water and land work in.

Canyon cannot go swimming, as he gets hotspots. Also, with his seizures, it’s just safer to not swim. Therefore, I used Rogue for competitive motivation.

We started out by attaching Arizona to a tree, while Huib tossed bumpers into the pond for Rogue. My little red lab isn’t a big swimmer, so she wore her life jacket and had a blast running around. She is not very good about bringing the bumper right back to us, but she at least brought it part way onto the shore.

While Rogue was running in and out of the pond, Arizona barked and whined. We tossed three bumpers for Rogue, before we had the girls switch places.

Arizona did a beautiful job of marking, retrieving the bumper and then bringing it to me. I really don’t understand why she doesn’t show us this same enthusiasm at field class.

While Ari was doing her retrieves, Rogue barked and whined and moaned and groaned. For a dog who doesn’t enjoy being wet, she sure wanted to get back to the water in a hurry!!!

As Ari was about to go for her fourth bumper, Rogue escaped the leash and began running around like a goofball!!

Huib got her, put a carabeaner on her life jacket, and reattached her to the leash. She had pulled so hard, that the ring came off the back of her jacket.

Once Rogue was secured to the tree, we got back to retrieves. Huib had us setup in different spots around the pond, while he tossed the bumper from different distances. Arizona did a fabulous job!!!

Once Ari gave me her eighth bumper, we switched the girls. Rogue was pretty excited, so it took a few seconds for her to sit and pay attention to what I wanted. She sort of retrieved and brought back the first bumper, but then she ran around the pond like a wild dog, dropping the bumper in the weeds on her way around, so we let Ari off the leash to help us out.

She ran right over to the bumper and brought it over to Huib to toss again – GOOD GIRL!!!

Next, we did some land work with Canyon as the motivator.

We put Rogue in the car and tied Arizona to a tree to watch.

Canyon is a HUGE fan of retrieving ducks. He sat beside me, marked the spot and then went for the bird when I released him. On his way back, he stopped a foot in front of me, and laid down to check out ‘his’ duck a bit better – BAD BOY!!!

I got the duck back and set him up for another retrieve. I really need to work on having him hand the bird to me, as he enjoys ‘checking’ it out.

After retrieving three ducks, he went into the car and it was Arizona’s turn.

We have noticed an issue with her not running far enough, so Huib wanted to practice tossing the duck behind him. The first bird was tossed in front of him. When I released her, she went straight to the bird and brought it to me.

Huib tossed the second duck just past where he was standing, so she needed to run past him. Ari had trouble. She doesn’t realize she needs to run past the gunner sometimes.

Huib also noticed that she had some trouble with ducks who did not go high in the air. Luckily, this problem isn’t a big deal because it’s not something she really needs to understand.

Overall, I think our independent training session went well. Rogue was good entertainment and Canyon was his usual steady self, but Arizona was quite good, especially in the water.

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On Tuesday, we had our regular field class. I had to go to Georgina Island to get my status card renewed, so we also dropped in to see my Aunt Dawn for lunch. As a result, we were late getting to class. Fortunately, no one else had come, so Susie and Laura were just chatting when we arrived.

Unfortunately, it was close to 7:20pm, so we weren’t able to get a lot of work in. After explaining the work we did over the weekend, Susie suggested we do some land work.

The first bumper tossed was an easy one, so Arizona quickly got it and brought it back to me. The next one was thrown by Susie, who is one of Ari’s favourite people, so she got pretty distracted. As a result, she forgot where the bumper had landed, so Huib had to go out and direct her to pick it up.

Susie didn’t want to reward her for the poor results, so she had us all walk to a different spot in the field and set up again.

Arizona did a good job on two of the three retrieves, but struggled with the one that she had to run past the gunner to find. Whenever she can’t figure something out, she runs back to us, so Huib usually meets her halfway and they go find it together. Laura worries that Ari is beginning to think she’ll always have Huib to help her, so doesn’t see the reason why she needs to work through the problem on her own. I’m sort of with Laura, Ari is highly intelligent, so why put in the effort if you can do it easier with help? The issue we face is figuring out how to stop the behaviour, while also having her trust that we will be there when she really needs us. I also don’t know how we’re going to convince her to keep working, when she just returns to me and sits until she’s directed to do something.

Arizona is sure keeping us on our toes.

The last three retrieves were so-so. The first one was pretty good, but the last two were both okay and not-so-okay.

Arizona is really good about letting us know when she’s tired and when she no longer wants to do something. No matter what we’re doing, if she’s tired, she gets very uncooperative.

We had had a really long day, without much of an opportunity for her to nap, so it’s sort of not surprising that she didn’t want to retrieve eight bumpers.

When I released her to go for the seventh, she just laid down in front of me, lol!! Huib had to run out to the bumper with her, where she then proceeded to pick it up and run back to me – sort of good girl.

The final bumper was retrieved similarly. The only difference was that she also took a break in the middle of the field, lol!!

I really shouldn’t laugh about her being so lazy, but sometimes you can’t avoid laughing or you’ll just end up crying.

Arizona can be so frustrating and entertaining at the same time.

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On Wednesday, we joined a field training group. We’ve met some of the people at tracking group, so it was neat to see them in a different setting.

Susie and Laura wanted to do a drill with Arizona to teach her that the duck will not always be thrown in front of the gunner. They ended up doing the same drill with all of the other dogs in the group.

Arizona did well with the bumpers that were tossed in spots that she is used to, but she struggled with the ones that went past the gunner. I really hope she figures this problem out before the 16th.

She also got tired of retrieving bumpers after the fourth. I think she might have also been a bit warm, but she still needs to learn not to give up.

Susie says she lacks drive. This is something you really can’t teach her to have, so we’re just going to have to teach her how to get past it. I think we need to find a way of making the work extremely rewarding to her. She is starting to push further in tracking, so maybe it’s just something she’ll figure out with time in field.

We could use an e-collar or train a force fetch, but we don’t want to do this. Both Huib and I don’t feel it’s that important to us, to feel as though we need to resort to non-positive training methods or tools.

When it came to water time, Arizona hesitated some, but she wasn’t as horrible as she can be.

There are some handling things I need to work on, so I won’t be touching her more than needed, but most of the work we need to do before the 16th surrounds water.

Arizona has really improved this year, compared to last, so even if we don’t end up earning her JH this fall, I know it’ll happen next year. She is no longer refusing to pick up any sort of duck and she’s always handing the bird to me, so we just need to work beyond the water and minor land retrieve issues.

Please keep your fingers and toes crossed for us. Just over a week before she begins to try for her JH (junior hunter).