Sunday, January 31, 2010

Six Words

I've taken up the blog challenge of describing my furry friends in 6 words. From what I can tell, this started from Patricia McConnel's blog (, in case you want to check it out- after she lost her old dog Lassie.  So, I have taken up the challenge (but I promise you cute puppy pics of Frankie the golden who spent three sleepless nights here, and more of Gemma SOON!)...

So here goes...
Sophie: Silly, energizer bunny, funny, monkey girl.  (really, that about sums her up!)
Spike:  Serious, cautious boy, best friend ever. (much harder to write one for Spike... I am still not that happy with it yet, but that's him. Yup, serious, cautious but loving and commited once he knows you. And yup, he's that special dog.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

She loves her food!

Sophie loves her food. LOTS. She would weigh over 100 pounds easily if I let her eat all the stuff she wants. Instead, I am mean and keep her weight a shade over a skinny 50. But, it's way better for her hips and so she doesn't have a choice.

Doesn't mean she can't remind me how much she loves her food.....

Sophie pushed her empty mind you bowl all the way from the kitchen, round the corner to just outside the bathroom where she lay licking it clean, while I got ready for work. Silly girl!

Yes, she has BOTH paws in there too! lol

Hmm, sure wish it wasn't emtpy! Yup, I must be starving the poor lab. ;)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Late night dog cuddles

This was from last weekend, actually. I couldn't help myself- the dogs looked so cozy hogging the WHOLE bed, I had to just shove myself in there and cuddle too.

Nothing like Spike cuddles!

Yup, I am a mess but he is infinitely happy to have pictures taken.

Sophie, before I got a whiff of her breathe.

Sophie, after I got a whiff and realized "holy cow, she smells like a dairy barn!".

Yup, it's true, my little princess is NAUGHTY in the yard and insists on eating unspeakable frozen delights.  The very next day BOTH are back on pineapple every day. No more stinky dairy barn incidents since. It DOES work people! A teaspoon of pineapple everyday saves me from stinky, stinky Sophie!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

It just won't stop snowing!

Another snow day... it hasn't stopped yet, and technically while they aren't calling this a blizzard, merely a winter storm, to me, it's a blizzard. Roads are horrid, my yard is finally covered in the white fluffy stuff and I am kind of dreading shovelling out.

Ah well, in the meantime, a little play in the yard never hurt anyone. I was technically trying to get the deck shovelled, but couldn't help but stop to throw a ball.

Come on, throw it all ready!!

Run Sophie!

Found it, buried in the snow!

Yeah Spike! Found your soccer ball!

The scene from my back deck. Normally you can see all the way to the highway from there, but not today. Picture doesn't do it justice.

Poor snowy Sophie.  :)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

How we spend a snow day

I figured out why the photos weren't great in the last post. I had changed a setting on my camera and hadn't changed it back. That being said, these aren't much better, but it's a bad weather day out there and I have to entertain myself somehow if I am not able to make it into flyball and agility classes today.

So,  Here's Gemma, looking like a deer in headlights because I held her down for the photo. She doesn't have a stay on her yet apparently. And, she is intensely curious about the camera which is a probem. Every noise it makes, she moves towards it, or turns her head or moves and I get a lousy photo. Apparently holding her down doesnt help either!

So, if you aren't going to lie still, you might as well try to wrestle with Soph who clearly did not want to be bothered.

So, might as well tug a little...

Gemma wins!

She is VERY toy motivated, flyball people. Just saying. In case you know, you might be looking for a flyball dog. ;)

Sophie just wouldn't pose today. Silly girl!

Mr. Fun Police himself. Silly boy Spike, looking on at the action.

Yup, silly, bored, snow days. It's good.

On a lighter note....

On a much nicer, lighter note than last week (phew, enough dark brooding about bad hips!) my favourite dog walker EVER brought Spike a present!!  It was in the yard when I let them out after work. And, by the time I got my boots and mitts on to go and join them, it already looked like this....

That was like 3 minutes flat.
And this is why...

Mr. I must carry soccer ball in my mouth!

So, what are we supposed to do but continue to play anyway?  How can I say no to this?

I was on a mission to get some more photos of Gemma, but wow, she's some fast. Or doesn't like the camera. In any case, she moved her face WAY too fast for me to get anything good. :(

Look at me run after Spike!  She is so striking looking, I can hardly stand it.

Sorry it's out of focus. At this point, my lens was not coping with the weird weather- it was kind of freezing drizzle out throughout the entire play session.  We didn't last much longer after this one, as Sophie hit a patch of ice and slid into the fence. (And, I wonder why she limps?!?  She is SO driven to play she doesn't always play nice. Or know when to stop. Poor girl.)

Who me? Poor? C'mon, just throw my ball already!!

Ah well, at least Gemma had fun ripping around the yard with the big dogs. She's finally relaxed enough with them to play and chase and attempt to get the ball, but I have to admit Spike has some serious speed on him these days and keeps beating everyone, well not always Miss Speedy herself, Sophie to the ball. Not that I mind; he's my flyball dog after all... he's supposed to be fast! :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

It's been a hard week.

Yup, it's really true. I think I have had a mini breakdown this week with stress from everything going on and that is ok. I have found some perspective in the midst of chaos and I am feeling much better than I was, well, let's say yesterday.

So, what is going on? Well, I am teaching fulltime. I am taking one class this semester at the University. I know, that doesn't sound like lots but the class is over the top busy and I am barely keeping up with the readings. One class at this level is considered halftime so really, that sounds far more impressive, doesn't it?  And, I sit on various committees with the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation and my school board. I also have my two dogs, now Gemma who is quite an active puppy. And, I have a quirky old Buick that constantly has warning lights on which add a level of stress to my commuting to work. So, on top of that, I got it in my head I want another dog... a lovely, gorgeous lab from a breeder south of Regina. He is a 5 month old Sophie and yesterday it all kind of came a  head and I woke up to a realization. I am busy. I am stressed. I am not handling any of this well.

So, why another dog? Because Sophie officially retired from agility last Friday night. It was a sudden decision but not really- I have been pondering the wisdom of running Sophie for months and I suddenly realized over my Christmas holidays the foolishness of doing so. I knew when Sophie was about four or fice months that she had a problem with her hips, but when I asked the vet about it, I was told I had to wait it out and we would see once she was full grown. Sophie grew fast when she was really young and really has not changed weight much since she was about 6 months old. And, so the vet thought it could be growing pains , related to growing so fast (which, how did that happen?? Was it the large breed puppy kibble I fed at that point? I have no idea what I could have done to minimize this problem now, except I won't feed kibble to a puppy again if I have a choice). Anyway, I finally got her X-rays done just after her second birthday but we had been through chronic limping and stiffness at points all along. The X-rays showed up a problem and my fantastic vet called me and asked if I would consent to allowing Sophie to be a Penn-Hip case study for her. The results were devastating to me; Sophie is at the 20th percentile for hip laxity. Honestly, it's bad. And, while I don't completely understand the ins and outs of this whole laxity thing, I do know that Sophie's hips are crap and while the vet said agility would be ok, it's become more and more clear this winter it should not be an option. Even this morning, Sophie woke up in her usual chipper mood, and was ready to face the world. Except as she got off the bed, she couldn't put weight on her back left paw. This is chronic and happens more often than not. I understand that Sophie could have a long and happy life with me, and I hope she does but I look at her stiffness and mobility now when she isn't even a three year old dog and I wonder  if she will make it until 5 at this rate?

So, that very sad, devastating to me decision had to be made. Pursuing agility, which Soph loves does not entirely help her long term mobility. Asking her to do 22" jumps in competition is not realistic. In one moment of understanding about what I was asking my dog to do for me, I understood more clearly the long term implications of it. And a week later, I am still so sad about the whole situation I can hardly stand it. Noone wants to see their dog hurting, despite taking supplements and Deramaxx for pain management.

And, the reality is that while Spike runs agility and is great, he is not a puppy either. Each day I am seeing more gray around his muzzle and that tugs at my heart strings too. Someday I will tell the story behind Spike, but his life before coming to me was less than lovely too, and I can't make up for that first, so very important year of his life. He will be 5 before he gets to compete in Flyball or Agility and I am wondering how long he will want to run. I see no indications at this point that he will not want to play these games any time soon but  I also know that when it gets to be too much, I will stop.

So, I want an agility dog. There is no question about that. But, I also know that now is not the moment. So, to that little Black Lab puppy down south... sorry boy, I don't think you are meant to be the next agility dog in my home. And, I am going to try to be patient while I wait.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Introducing Gemma

Well, without further ado... here's Gemma!  She is the CUTEST little scrap of a Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler) mixed with a bit of Border Collie.

I have no idea what to say about this girl yet as she is busy, focused and very people oriented- beyond what I have seen in a dog her age. And, she's my first full herding dog in this house so I have nothing to compare it to. She's stubborn, but sharp as a whip so she learns her lessons fast. She obviously wants to please; she is constantly looking for approval. And, she's trying her best to play with my dogs- although it's clear that she really isn't that dog focused persay. She doesn't live to play, like Sophie. She lives to work and make her people happy. She has bonded to me completely already and that's sweet. :)  And, she's learning to behave herself around my dogs; she was not socialized before she came here so she has a little catching up to do. But, she's a baby and she's adorable and my dogs are willing to teach her- especially Spike. He's working hard on teaching her not to jump at his face or on his back. And, to not steal his ball while playing in the yard. :P

I don't want to scare people away from Gemma- she is a bottomless pit of potential I think but she is busy and she is a working dog. She cannot live as a couch potato!  She, I suspect would be a fabulous flyball or agility dog, but I really wonder if flyball won't be her thing. She isn't too bothered about other dogs at this stage; she is focused on what she is asked to do and other dogs are really in the background for her. And, she is learning the basics already- tug, starting the turn, learning to get the ball. We'll see!

Gemma is an adventure to say the least and I have to say I am enjoying getting to know her! And, I am learning SOOO much about herding dogs from her, and about being a better trainer. It's all good. I can't wait to see where she ends up as I think she really is a gem of a dog.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The next new dog

You may have noticed a decided lack of puppies around here, post Christmas. It's simply because they have been exposed to aednovirus and Sophie is too young to live with pups that are shedding the virus. So, the decision was made that I should not foster these little monkeys. So, that opens me up for the next foster.... (or keeper? Who knows?!?) For better or worse, tomorrow a Blue Heeler/Border Collie cross is arriving in my house. AACKK! What am I thinking?? She needs a home, and she *sounds* like a nice puppy. We'll see. She may not last long, she may be here forever. It's to be determined, along with her name. Yup, pictures tomorrow.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

It's a new year and I plan to....

Alright, I don't really want to do a post with New Year's resolutions other than goals related to the dogs. I do make New Year's resolutions, and I do write them down. Sometimes I even accomplish them! Usually, I don't think of them in terms of New Year's resolutions so much as life goals- that takes pressure off to accomplish something within the span of a year. My quilt was a goal- a major goal for me, but to have though last January I would decide literally the week before Christmas break to sew it, was unthinkable. That being said, I do want to share my doggy goals....

I plan to spend more time playing with them, walking and hanging out in the yard, just enjoying them....

I must play....

Run Sophie run!

Throw the ball, c'mon, it's too cold to sit here!

Please throw it.... Spike never handles the cold as well as Sophie. She doesn't seem to notice it nearly as much. But, Spike has the "look of pain" on his face- like his feet are freezing off. Poor baby!

And my snow girl...

I also have some training goals. I would love to run an agility trial or two with both of them. Spike is way closer than Sophie but I *think* Soph might be ready by fall. Certainly her skill development will be ready, but I have no idea about her attention, focus and excitement levels. She will be fun to run and fun to watch on the agility course, that much is for sure! I want to get her going sooner than later because of her hip problems- I have no idea how long she will be able to run, so I want to do it while we can.  I also want to get Spike in the flyball lanes... he is close, so very close but we have to sort out his passing abilities yet. He's so inexperienced it's still very scary to him. And, he's a very soft dog so I have to remember that when he's struggle to run by another dog. He'll get there! I also want to get Sophie tracking. This would be a great retirement job for her and since I don't know when her retirement will be (but I suspect it will be sooner than later), I want to get a jump on that this year. And, maybe we'll do some Rally O. All I really know is we will have lots of fun, lots of laughs and just hang out together.  It'll be great, no matter what we accomplish!

And with that, Happy New Year's to you. May your goals, dog related or otherwise be met!

Friday, January 1, 2010

How I spend my holidays

I love Christmas holidays. Of course, as a teacher, I have two weeks off to travel, hang out with the dogs and recuperate from the busy fall. So, this year, I got it in my head I needed to spend the break making a quilt. So, I started it Dec 22nd, and took two or three days to cut 288 squares of fabric. Then, after a lovely Christmas with my parents, I came back to continue the hard work- now by sewing all 288 squares together. I finished sewing today. Phew.  What a lot of work, let me tell you, but the end result I am very pleased with!!

The layout on my living room floor. This was basically the start of some very long days of sewing!

Close up of the squares. I love my fabric choices!

This was 1/4 of the way finished. Already I was feeling tired!

The first 1/2 is complete here.

I laid out the second half to make a few changes and just make sure none of my squares got messed up. Of course, Sophie needed to get involved at this stage!

Such a good supervisor!

Spike spent much of the long sewing days, napping on his back on my awful couch downstairs. At least he finds it comfy!

Second half is complete. I sewed 6 rows of 12 squares, then did that again. Then I attached the two halves together.

My entire queen sized quilt shoved onto my desk. I had just finished the last stitch here.

The complete quilt.

 Spike cuddle testing the blanket..

Sophie had to show her approval too.

After washing the quilt once, it has started to fray nicely!

What a way to spend a week. I can't believe I actually made an entire quilt!!  I made an entire rag quilt for my bed, in about 5 days. No wonder I still feel tired! I have always wanted to try my hand at quiltmaking and I guess now I can actually make one. Would I do it again? I already have the fabric for the next!