Another Year

Today is someone’s birthday.

Today Arizona turns 6!!!

I say it every year, but time really does fly. I remember when Arizona was a tiny puppy. The trouble she put us through in the first month. She has grown up to be such an amazing girl.

Thank you for introducing us to dog sports, and for helping us meet so many awesome people.

Thank you for giving us 10 beautiful bundles of joy. Kiana is such an amazing puppy. She is smart, confident and very good looking. We can’t wait to see where she takes us in field, tracking and obedience.

HAPPY HAPPY 6TH BIRTHDAY ARIZONA!!!

May we have many more years of adventures together.

Happy 9th Birthday Rogue

Today is a special labrador’s birthday. Its Rogue’s 9th birthday!!!

Its hard to believe my little red girl is already 9. She came into my life at a time when I needed a friend and someone I could rely on. I had just lost more of my sight in January, so together we discovered the world. Rogue has been a friend, an entertainment, and a loyal partner in crime. She is shy and quiet, never one to cause a problem. She helped me regain my independence and taught me it’s possible to raise and train my own service dog. Over the years, we have done tracking, travelled to different places in North America, and presented at a number of conferences. When she is with me, I know everything will be okay.

For her birthday, she got a Noxgear harness to run at night, a purple light up collar for evening walks, and a pair of Ruffwear boots. I also wanted to get her something to play with, so I ordered her a Kong toy that dispenses treats.

I am sad to know our working days are coming to an end, but I know we will have many more adventures together. Please enjoy a favourite snack for the best little red girl!!!

Happy 9th Birthday Rogue

They Have Arrived!!!

*** This post is backdated ***

At about 2:00pm, Arizona went into labour. She had been restless for the past couple of days, but did not really give us any clear-cut signs the time was coming. As a result, her breeder wasn’t able to make it until after the first puppy had arrived.

Ari was a bit unsure when the first puppy, a girl, arrived. She was interested in licking the puppy, but also wanted to get out of the whelping box, so I sat in it with her, while Huib did what he needed to do with the pup. After each, he tore open the placenta, tied and cut the umbilical cord, and then held the puppy for Ari to clean, before handing it off to me for drying. Once the puppy was dry enough, we weighed it and then put it onto Arizona. She was a great mom once her maternal hormones kicked in.

Her delivery of each puppy went so smoothly, that we were able to leave the prior puppies nursing while the next arrived. She just laid on her side and let her body do its thing. Her breeder was pretty impressed, especially when it only took her five hours to deliver 10 puppies.

The first and last puppies were girls.

In total she had, six boys and four girls. Initially, we thought it was five and five, but after a few days, we realized our count was off, lol!!!

This link will take you to a Facebook post where I share photos of the new family. It is public, so you should be able to view it.

So far the puppies aren’t too much work, but by the time they turn four weeks, things will get very busy!!!

I will try to post semi-regularly. I do post on Instagram and Facebook almost daily.

Getting Back to Blogging

2018 was a good year for the ruled by paws crew. It was not such a great year for the blog.

This brings me to my first, and only, New Year’s resolution. I am going to try and do a better job of blogging. This resolution’s success may be bolstered by the fact that we will hopefully be welcoming a new addition.

For those who have not been following me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or who might not have seen my last post, Arizona is pregnant!!! She will be welcoming puppies around January 14th.

As of last Thursday, Ari is 6 inches, and 8.8 lbs. bigger than usual. She is finding it difficult to lay comfortably, so can be restless at times. Just 14 more days to go!!!

As mentioned earlier, 2018 was a good year. Here are some of the highlights:

1. Arizona earned her PCD (pre-novice obedience) title in February.

2. Ari finished her JH (junior hunter) in May.

3 Arizona earned a few rally titles in August, September and November with both the CKC and UKC organizations.

4. I completed 4 races this year. Not only doing 3 5k, but also walking/running a 10k in August.

5. Canyon earned his TD (tracking dog) title in November!!! This means all three of our current dogs have their TD.

In 2018, we also lost an important member of our crew. On October 15, we said goodbye to Cessna, after her health went downhill. We are all missing her.

I don’t really have any resolutions, but do have several goals.

1. I’d like to train more regularly with the dogs.

2. I would like to finally run races, and no longer walk parts.

3. We’d like to finish off Ari’s rally advanced title, and try out rally excellent.

4. We would like to finish off Ari’s UKC conformation title, and maybe attempt the next level of UKC rally.

5. I would like to have Rogue earn her TDX (tracking dog excellent) or UTD (urban tracking dog) title.

6. We would like Canyon to try for his TDX.

7. We would like Ari to earn her WCI (working certificate, intermediate).

For the most part, our goals for this year are focused on the dogs. They are all things they enjoy, so not really goals that need to be written down, but it’s always a good idea.

Looking back, I think 2018 might be one of our best years so far. Let’s hope 2019 brings some new adventures and maybe a few challenges to keep things interesting.

Exciting News!!!

We’ve already announced this on social media, but I thought we should also mention it here.

Arizona is expecting!!!

She had an ultrasound Thursday, and the vet saw 9 puppies!!! As long as everything goes well, the puppies will arrive January 14/15.

Here is a picture of her ultrasound.

The Good and the Not So Good

On Thursday evening, Rogue and I got together with D for a run. It was a lot warmer than Tuesday, so I found myself taking longer to catch my breath after a run. Nevertheless, we made it through our workout of: 100 m running and 300 m walking, four times.

*****
On Friday morning we met up with Laura to do some tracking in the field with Rogue and Canyon. It has been about six months or more since either of them tracked in a field, so we were curious to see where they were at.

Canyon struggled with parts of the track that went against the grain, but did amazingly well on other parts. I think with weekly practice, he will be ready to try for his TD this fall.

Rogue’s track wasn’t crazy long, or challenging, but I thought she was fabulous!!! I found her easy to read and I didn’t notice her struggle at any point. I am really hoping to attempt her TDX in the fall. This will be our second try.

*****
On Saturday, Huib and I took Arizona to a UKC rally trial. She only needed one more leg to finish off her RO1 title, so we decided to only enter the one day.

Their first run was awesome!!! She qualified with a score of 96!!!

She lost a few marks for a tight leash, but otherwise their run was beautiful!!!

In their second run, Huib accidentally missed a station, so they did not qualify. Rally is tough, as the signs are pretty close together, so it is easy to miss a station.

Overall, I thought they did a pretty fantastic job!!!

*****
On Sunday morning, we met up with Laura to do some urban tracking. Even though it was pretty hot – 26 – the dogs did a pretty awesome job!!!

Arizona had a short, but challenging track. Laura wanted to get her back into tracking, rather than continuously giving up when it got tough, so she tried to give her a good experience. She added in a bit more hard surface than she is used to, but this did not create any problems. If I had to give her a mark, I think I’d give her an 80%.

Canyon’s track had some long grass and contamination, but neither one caused an issue. I will give him an 85%.

Rogue found one corner a bit tough, but I didn’t have to help her and she figured it out. I thought she did a really amazing job on her track, so she gets a 90%!!!

*****
Yesterday Rogue and I ran with D. According to the schedule we are following, our assignment was: 200 m running and 200 m walking, four times. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, as my migraines were horrible Sunday and Monday, so I did not get a workout in. It went surprisingly well. I struggled to get through the final 200 m of running, but I did it!!!

D and I meet again Thursday, so we are going to try some new things with the warm-up. We are going to try a slow jog with a walk just before we hit the trail. I’ll let you know how it works.

Last night was our final field class of the season. I’m sad it’s over, but I think we also need to take a break and reassess where the holes in Arizona’s training exist. I thought this was possibly our worst class in a while.

Ari refused to pick up a duck, something she has not done in a really long time, and she seemed to have a lot of trouble locating her marks. I was totally fine with her initially hesitating to pick up a different kind of bird, but to refuse a duck was frustrating!!! I’m not sure why she found the marks so challenging, maybe a break will help us both.

As you can see, it’s been a pretty mixed week so far.

Success and Struggles

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

Arizona sitting with a rosette attached to her collar.

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

D and I get together again on Thursday.

*****

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

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

Here are a couple pictures from her second run.

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

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

We’ll get there someday…

Junior Hunter

Last weekend was the Labrador Owners Club hunt test. We entered Arizona in junior hunter both days.

It was HOT!!!

On Saturday, Arizona was dog number 13, so we had a lot of time to wait around. We set up our spot in the shade, and waited.

When it was our turn, we walked over to the first holding blind. I crouched down to Ari’s level and just talked to her and pet her whole body. I was hoping it would calm my nerves, and help her chill out. It really seemed to work. 🙂

When we got to the second holding blind, I switched Ari’s lead, so it would be easy to release her when the time came.

Our number was called, I took a deep breath, asked Ari if she was ready, and we walked up to the line.

I got her to sit, and asked her to “mark.” When the judge gave us the okay, I told her to “fetch!!!”

She was off. She ran over to the gunner, said hi, then checked out the pail and began to search for her duck. After a few seconds, she located it, so I blew my whistle three times. Ari came right to me, so I took the bird and then got her set up for the next retrieve.

Her second land retrieve went similar, so i won’t run through it.

For the most part, other than sometimes running a bit short of the bird, Ari is pretty reliable on the land retrieves.

When we got back to the car, I gave her some water and Huib got out her Ruffwear Swamp Cooler vest. I wanted to make sure she stayed cool between runs. Once she wasn’t panting as hard, we got out her frozen treat, a JW dumbbell filled with Fromm wet food. We didn’t have any ground beef, so we used some of Cessna’s canned stuff.

When it was Arizona’s turn to run the water retrieve, I did the same process in each of the holding blinds.

At the line, we waited for the okay. When I released her, she walked into the water, laid down and then got up to walk a bit more.

I calmly waited, but repeated my “fetch” command a couple more times.

When she didn’t go, I called her back. She came, so I set her up, and the second I felt her head turn towards where I heard the bird fall, I said “fetch!!!”

And…she was off!!!

Ari swam straight to the bird and came right back to me.

When I sent her for the next one, she didn’t hestitate, just jumped right in.

When she handed me the second bird, I told her she was a very good girl, and we walked back to the car.

Our land retrieves were great, but our first water one was sure a nail-biter!!!

But, she passed!!!

On Sunday, Arizona was dog number 17, so we had a long time to wait around.

The land retrieves were done in a field where the grass was a lot higher, so it was sometimes tougher for the dogs to see.

Arizona did both retrieves beautifully!!! She was fast and flashy. It was cool to see her do this, since she was working where she trains.

While waiting for the water retrieves, we gave her water, put her Swamp Cooler on, and gave her the frozen dumbbell with wet food inside. We aren’t sure why, but she had some diarrhea while we waited. I was a bit worried about her having an issue during the test itself, but her bowel cooperated.

When we got to the first holding blind, they had a kiddie pool set up for the dogs to play in, as it was CRAZY HOT!!! Ari got in and laid there for probably half of the time we waited.

When we got to the second holding blind, I switched her lead to the easy release position. I also talked to her and tried to get her excited about the water.

At the line, I set her up and waited for the okay from the judge.

When I released her, she walked up to the water, laid down, and got up again. I repeated my “fetch” command a few more times, until she finally got in.

She swam over to the bird, and needed to be reminded to stay straight when she came back. I have really tried to teach her that cheating, or land running, is not allowed. For the most part, she is really good about swimming straight there and back.

Huib felt it was better to move to a different spot for the second retrieve, so we did. I really think we probably should have stayed there, as Ari did her usual hesitation. I wonder if she would have done a splashing entry, if we had released her from the same spot.

No matter what, she did it, and PASSED!!!

With these two passes, Arizona finished her junior hunter (JH) title.

Now we need to start working on doubles, walking up to the line off leash, and honouring. While we do this, we’ll start teaching Ari to follow directionals.

I would really like to try for her working certificate, intermediate (WCI) in the fall.

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.