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,

Wrapping Up 2017: My Turn

Sorry for the delay.

2017 was a really good year for me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MY GOALS:

This year, I want to continue running and swimming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wrapping Up 2017: Rogue, Canyon & Cessna

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

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

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

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

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

I was SO proud of them!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My poor old girl…

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

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

Wrapping Up 2017: Arizona

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

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

Let’s start with the youngest of the crew.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A New Tracking Dog

On Sunday, Arizona and Huib were entered in Scentral Ontario Trackers’ TD test.

Arizona was successful and earned her TD, or tracking dog title!!!

At the draw, Huib drew the fourth track, to which I said: “maybe you guys will be lucky, as that was the same number Rogue got her TD under.”

The weather was great. It was cool, slightly humid and there was virtually no wind. When Huib saw the third dog start their track, he went to relieve Ari. She was revved!!! She wanted to do some crittering and was bouncing around like a kangaroo. He was a bit worried about her enthusiasm, lol!!!

When Huib and Arizona went to do their track, I stood with Laura, our instructor, and got a play-by-play of their progress.

Ari had a good start and seemed to know what to do. On the second leg, she paused for a minute, but continued on without Huib needing to say too much. They made their way along the rest of the track smoothly, but then Ari stopped… They were about 20 feet from the final article!!!

Laura and I began to pray. I tried to send Huib good thoughts, and patient reminders.

It was a freaking nail biter!!!

Arizona sniffed, probably looking for mice. Then at times, she looked back at the judge and track layer. Laura and I thought she was a goner.

As handlers, we cannot say too much, so Huib said he waited her out, and anytime she liked back at the judge, he calmly, but firmly said “leave it, find.”

I’m not sure exactly how long she stood there, but finally she started walking forward. Laura and I held our breath…

And, she did it!!!

It took her about 10 minutes, but she finished her track!!!

Laura and I were so excited!!! We hugged each other and both said we wanted to cry, lol!!!

Huib has been working hard with Arizona to get to this point, so to see her succeed was huge!!!

2017 has sure been a good year for,

UKC CH. Taygold’s Kindred Spirit TD WC.

Celebrating a Birthday

Today, the oldest member of our crew has a birthday.

HAPPY 14TH BIRTHDAY CESSNA!!!

You were an amazing partner, keeping me safe for 8 years as my guide dog. Now that you are retired, you no longer want to come on as many road trips, but you continue to keep us company at home. Thank you for all that you have done, and for all that you continue to do.

I shared a couple new Cessna pictures on Facebook. You can find them here. One is a front view and the other is a side view, so that she could show off her new collar. It is a teal nylon flat collar with a navy blue and white paisley design in the middle.

I know I say this all of the time, but it is hard to believe Cessna is already 14. Time sure flies!!!

It was hard to decide on a good birthday gift for my old girl. Cessna doesn’t really play much, and she already has a nice braided leather leash and a warm winter coat, so I chose a fancy new collar and a package of soft, beef flavoured Merrick treats.

Cessna, over the past twelve and a half years, we have had a lot of wonderful adventures together. I hope we have a chance to create some more memories.

Please help me wish my little partner a very HAPPY 14TH BIRTHDAY!!!

A New Title

I posted this on Facebook and Twitter, but for those who do not follow me there…

Arizona got Best of Breed at the Grand River Kennel Club’s UKC conformation show on Saturday morning.

With this win, she has finished her conformation title!!!

We were so proud of her. Not only did she finish her title, but Ari also earned her first win against another golden. Normally, she is the only golden entered, so has earned her wins at the group level. This made the win extra special for us.

Arizona has really matured since her first UKC show at a year of age. Huib says she now stacks on her own and seems to understand her job in the ring. He isn’t sure she loves it, so we probably won’t make her enter anymore, but we are proud of her efforts. She is such a good sport!!!

Huib said that Ari might have been able to earn a group placement, but that she didn’t really react much to the judge’s efforts to animate her. I guess she thought it was her job to be more serious, and didn’t really appreciate his attempt to distract her, lol!!

After the show, we took her for a celebratory Whopper. In this picture, Arizona is eating the top half of her burger, while the rest waits in the wrapper.

A conformation title isn’t too important to most performance people, but we didn’t have a chance to obtain Arizona’s CCA, or Certificate of Conformation Assessment, so we’re hoping prospective puppy buyers will see the title as proof of good structure. UKC judges seem to focus on a dog’s structure and movement, more than their looks, so I really think this title is a pretty great achievement for Ari.

Until next time, stay safe and have fun!!

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.

**********

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!!!

Look Who’s Three!!!

Today is a very special day for Taygold’s Kindred Spirit.

Arizona is now three years old!!

A lot has happened in the almost three years of having her in our lives.

We have had a lot of ups and downs together, but no matter what, she can always make us laugh.

Despite having to endure almost a full month of Arizona screaming while crated, I still do not regret having her join our family.

Ari is the craziest, most loving and highly entertaining golden girl we know!!

She has taught us tons, and we hope she has learned at least something from us.

No matter what happens during a class, or at a test, we always know Arizona is going to make the experience fun!!

Airy Berry, please don’t ever stop being you!!

HAPPY 3RD BIRTHDAY BABY GIRL!!!

Where Have we Been…

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately, 2016 was just not our year for tracking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goals for 2017?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Performance wise?

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

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

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

A personal goal?

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

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

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

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