Monday, August 30, 2010

Adventures in Raising Murphy.

Two nights ago, this cute little face




became far less cute as she barked like the terror she is. Murphy somehow escaped her crate about 3:30 and came to cuddle on the bed. That meant she disturbed Spike, who when woken in the night, you better watch out for because he's some grumpy. And, me of course. I quickly realized she better go out FAST, lest she pee on the bed, like she managed twice, TWICE last week!  Ah!!! Too late.... there was a little dribble. Sigh.  Post, putting this cute little face...




...outside, I shoved her back in the crate. She proceeded to bark as only an angry Jack can, until 5 when I cracked. Then, angry, ANGRY momma got up, and we exhanged words. I didn't hear another peep until almost 7. Heaven.

***This blog is brought to you from the makers of Petmate crates (don't trust 'em to hold a Jack!), sleep-ez (how much is too much for a Jack??) and ever soft pillows (I least I got to enjoy it part of the night!)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Something tells me...

this isn't normal....  I have pictures of how Sophie always sits and downs these days. I thought I would show them for you all to see if anyone has thoughts on what is going on. Something tells me, I am wrong and it's not her hips bugging her, but her knee. It's the same one that actually did have a partial ACL tear, but she was like this well before the tear happened. (I can tell you exactly the day it did; I watched her fall in a gopher hole while she was running, watching me).  Anyway, I have her booked at the University of Saskatchewan Vet. College in September for further investigations because it's all not sitting well and I just think a second opinion wouldn't hurt at this point!!

Anyway, knee or hip?!?


That's a view, from above, of obviously an off kilter down. She was chewing a bone at the time, so nothing stressful. (And, yes, that's Murphy's nose... she tried to sneak into most of these pics!)



Same.... different angle.



This is her sit... next pic shows it better.



There, that's without a Spike tail in the way! :)

Anyway, any thoughts??  I know it's not normal and I am trying to figure it out so am open to suggstions... thank you all!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The cost of a best friend

Sophie was at the vet today and I had her blood work done, had her knee and hips checked and generally just made sure all was well. I learned that Sophie definitely tore her ACL in the spring, which I likely should have had checked but opted to manage at home and monitor. She wouldn't be doing as well as she is, if it was a complete tear so my treatment plan of pain management and restricted activity has worked to heal it up basically. There's still some instability in the knee and scar tissue, but she's ok. Sophie wouldn't even let the vet check her hips. She didn't growl or get upset, she just moved herself away and politely refused. We both guessed she's sore.

So, I walked away with her Blood Work results. Unfortunately, my scanner isn't working or I would upload the results; that will have to wait for another day but basically everything was normal.

I am left with a young, high energy, depressed Lab who is in pain off and on, all the time. I have Deramaxx to manage the pain as the Glucosamine/MSM mixture she gets doesn't cut it. The Deramaxx comes at a price as it will eventually destroy her liver function but the goal is mobility in the short term. I also can do acupuncture, laser treatments and underwater treadmill work with her. Unfortunately, that all costs money and Soph is expensive. Her pain pills are about $5.00 a pill; she takes 1 a day when things are bad and that's the cheapest part of her treatment.

As I discussed this with a friend, she made the comment to me, "all this for a dog that doesn't do anything. At least she's not your agility dog". That got me thinking about everything. Would I pay for hip surgery if this was Spike we were talking about? Would that change my treatment plans, if it was my flyball/agility/therapy dog? How much is realistic, considering I am a normal person, making a decent living working as a teacher, but with other commitments like student loan payments from the last round of school and tuition payments for this round?  Does my inability to continue to do things like acupuncture regularly enough stem from the fact that she's just a pet, or would I be making the same decision for Spike? All interesting thoughts and questions.

Here's what I know. I love Sophie to pieces. Sophie is not an agility dog, she's not an obedience dog, she's just a pet. She lives in my house with me, licks my plate clean when my back is turned, sleeps with her head on the pillow beside me and is my constant companion. I have always claimed Spike is my heart dog, but Sophie has a greater empathetic nature to her; she gets things emotionally better than Spike does. She wants to make the world better with a tail wag and a lick.  When I am upset, happy, laughing or crying, Sophie is there first. She makes me angry when she's bad but she makes me laugh more than any other dog ever has. She would be an agility dog and obedience dog if she could physically do it. She  loves running agility; she lights up in the yard when I put her through a tunnel or over a tiny little jump. She has enthusiasm to spare and she was so much fun in agility class. Just because she didn't get to earn a title doesn't mean she didn't want to. If she had her way, she'd still be playing. Sophie was also very close to going for her CD title in Obedience; I had entered her in an Obedience competition last fall but my grandmother passed away and I had to withdraw her. She could have done it, and I know it but the winter was so hard on her hip that I just didn't enter her in the spring, when I had the next opportunity to.

So, I guess where I am heading now is that I know I am doing everything I can for Sophie. I will make her as comfortable as I can, for as long as I can. I hope more treatment options come along, in the meantime as I really think she's too young to be on as big a dose of Deramaxx as she is. And, I don't care whether Sophie is just a pet... she's my girl and I am trying to make the right decisions. I think I would be doing the same if it was Spike.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Doggy Biscuit Recipes!

As you all know, I am not a big fan of the petfood industry. I switched over to raw, after Spike got a yeast infection, right at the height of the pet food recall about 2 years ago. But, like all good dogs, my guys still love a good treat and I go through lots with the training.

At this point, the majority of treats I feed, I make myself. I do liver and heart treats (YUM YUM! Not so good smelling in the kitchen when cooking those, I have to admit!) and a very clever recipe called Fish Fudge, thanks to Dayna over at Life is Better With Sheltie Hair.

But, I've been asked lately what I do instead of Dog biscuits so I have decided to share a couple super easy recipes that my pups love...

First off, the basic recipe for biscuits you can customize

4 cups flour type product (whole wheat, cornmeal, bran, wheat germ, oatmeal).
1 egg
2 tbsp oil
1 1/3 cups of liquid (I usually use broth or water)
Add ins: cheese, veggies, herbs, nuts etc.  (I tend to make lots of cheese biscuies).

Combine your dry ingredients with optional ingredients. Stir in oil, egg, broth. Add enough liquid to make  a stiff dough.  Roll out 3/8"  and cut with a cookie cutter.
Place on ungreased cookie sheet, then back for 3-31/2 hours in 250 degree oven. They must be quite dry!

If your biscuits still have a bit of moisture in them, you need to keep them in the fridge for them to stay good, longer.

Liver Biscuits- (The FAV. around here!!)
1 1/2 pounds liver (I have used lamb, pork, beef, chicken)
about 3 1/2 cups flour (I usually use whole wheat)
3 cups water
1 cup wheat germ

Simmer liver in water until no longer pink in the center (about 10 minutes, depending on tthe size of the pieces of liver, whether it's frozen when you start,  etc). Remove from water, reserving the water and cut into small pieces (about an 1" or so).  Place liver in food processor and puree.  Add water to this, as necessary.  Stir in wheat germ and enough flour to create a stuff dough.
Roll to 3/8" thinkchness, cut into shapes and bake at 250, for 3-31/2 hours.

Basic biscuits 
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 egg
3 tbsp oil
2 tsps fresh parsley ( I tend to use dried and just guess how much to add)
3/4 cup chicken broth

Heat overn to 400.
Mix flour and cornmeal together. Add liquid ingredients and parsley. Mix to create a thick dough. Roll out, and cut into shapes. Bake for 15min.

**These are the ones I tend to make when in a rush. I have added cheese and other ingredients to this one, to dress it up more, but the quicker baking time can be nice sometimes! I suspect you can bake this one longer on a slower heat, but haven't really tried.

Anyway, from my pooches to yours, hope they enjoy the little treats!! I do these only when I have some extra time, but I know the dogs enjoy a little extra, every now and again.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Story of a dog name Spike, part 3

It's finally time to continue the story of my boy. I have no idea why it's taken so long to get back to it, but the mood is right, so here goes...

I went back to the Bonnyville SPCA the next morning, hoping against hope that Spike would still be there. Everyone went; my brother and his family were home on holidays so they came with me, along with my parents. I walked into the shelter, knowing I wanted him so much to be my dog that it would be devastating if that kid from the day before decided he was the one. I got to his run, and there he was, tail wagging, eyes pleading, as if to say "you're back, are you my person??".  The man working confirmed the kid was there to see Spike, but had wanted to sleep on it one more night too, and I had beaten him back to the shelter. I paid for Spike on the spot, and he was mine with the agreement I had to leave him there while I went on a trip to Regina  and they had him neutered.

When I got back from my trip, I picked Spike up first thing. I knew then I was in for an adventure as I took him outside and attempted to get him in the car. Spike clearly had no idea what a car was, and I struggled for 15 minutes to get him into the backseat. No luring, cajoling, begging worked and I finally had to pick him up and put him in the car.  He settled on the floor, right behind my seat for the 40 minute drive to St. Paul where he chewed through his leash. Fun times!

When I got him to the house, I tried to get him up the front stairs and through the door but it became obvious Spike had never walked up stairs before. Or gone through a doorway into a house. He had no idea what to do!  I, once again had to physically help him into the house where I put him in his crate to rest, become a little more comfortable and settle in.

I learned within hours of his arrival that Spike was not accustomed to stairs and had to learn how to walk up and down flights, into a dark basement without panic. He was not used to crates, but he settled into that amazingly well; he has never had an accident in his crate ever. He did not know anything; no come, sit, down or anything else.  He wanted to please so badly, but he was terrified of doing something wrong, so he opted to do nothing most of the time. I remember the first night Spike was in the house, he picked up my DVD remote and started to chew it. I verbally corrected him and he looked horrified and devastated  all at once. Spike has never touched anything of mine since, as if that was the one lesson he needed to know his place in the pack. Spike was the most shut down dog I had ever worked with. I tried to train him to sit on command, but he had no idea how to go about doing that, and he cowered in fear, as if something bad would happen if he couldn't figure it out.

I walked Spike obsessively that summer, trying to help him settle in and that is what finally got him to start loosening up. But, along with walking came a realization that Spike was bonded to me, and really just me for life and with that came a great desire to protect me from anything. He became incredibly leash reactive, not able to walk by people or dogs without lunging, barking or snarling. At that point, I wondered what I had gotten myself in to!

I soldiered on with him and moved back to La Loche where that reactivity intensified. I would let him out in the mornings, off leash and he would chase people away from the house. I learned very quickly he would chase cars, dogs, people, bikes, really anything that moves and those days were done. He no longer got to go out unless he was leashed. I remember the final time I allowed him out in the morning off leash, he chased my friend Renee out of the yard as she was coming over to my downstairs neighbor's place so they could walk to work together. I clearly had a snarky, miserable, very devoted guard dog on my hands.

Somehow, we muddled through that year even though my "doggy guru" Sarah had moved back to Ontario and I was on my own with limited experience training dogs. I got many questions from my students about Spike, usually phrased something like "Why is your dog so mean, Miss?"  I worked at the clicker with Spike and used positive reinforcement as much as I possibly could, but Spike was such a neurotic mess, I knew I needed to do something more for him. So, I called Rita at Mystyroch Kennel, in St. Paul and enrolled Spike in both group classes and private sessions. Smartest decision I ever made!  Rita worked with us to get me to lighten up and have fun with Spike. And, she worked with Spike to get him over his MANY fears; men, men in hats or uniforms, other dogs, noises, new circumstances. That was the beginning of the dog I now I have and I am eternally grateful for her help in the journey!!

The other smart decision I made was getting Spike a puppy; he needed another dog around to help him be balanced and less neurotic and somehow in researching breeds, I realized I needed a goofball of a dog to help him lighten up too. Originally, I had my heart set on a German Shepherd, but with lots of lots of thought came an understanding that both Spike and I needed a lighthearted, silly dog so I settled on a lab. So, that was the beginning of Sophie's life with us. And, is the conclusion to this lengthy chapter in Spike's life with me... Spike, the single dog to Spike, part of a pack.


How could this silly, smiling boy be such a mess?? Ah well, Spike has clearly come a million miles from that sad little farm dog, dumped at the pound to a much loved, happy, flyball running, agility playing, sleeping on the bed, happy being with people, Therapy dog extraordinaire!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It's tiring work being a workin' man!

Spike and I went to on our bi-weekly visit to the nursing home, the other evening. We've been going since we became certified through St. John Ambulance as a Therapy Dog team and I knew right away that he enjoyed the work; he pulls me through the doors, and he prances down the hallway as if he owns the place! What I didn't count on was how much I would grow fond of the people I visit and how much I would enjoy the work.

It didn't take Spike long to figure out he was there to work; for some people he will do tricks. For others, he'll sit calmly, head on their knee as they rub his ears. He knows our usual people and knows their rooms. When I get his bandana out, he becomes a different dog, focused, ready to go. I love that about Spike! He understands the time to work and the time to play.

We've been going since March and we've managed to break through to a few people and gotten them to share things I never thought they would share. There has to be value in that; if a person is lonely, locked in their room because they don't hear or see well but they are content to chat with me, while gently petting Spike then that's work well done.  And, it's been a gift to me to see Spike learn his job, learn the people and clearly love his time working.

And, when he comes home, he's a tired, tired boy!


He's fighting to stay awake there. And, even more so in this one, taken to show off his work uniform.




What a great gift to have a therapy dog!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Max gets a home

I am very involved with a dog rescue in Saskatoon called New Hope Dog Rescue. We are a small rescue, run by a dedicated group of hardworking volunteers and we take on abused and unwanted dogs from whereever, when we can. I have fostered off and on for the past two years and I have found myself in the position of Intake Coordinator. I love working with the rescue but of late, I have lost a bit of my passion as I have found myself feeling tired, overworked and barely able to work with my own dogs.

So, when Max came to our attention I tried to tell myself "NO!" But, his sad, sad story tugged at me and I agreed to foster him before anyone else even knew he was coming in. I've had Max, I think since about May, and it took quite awhile for him to be ready to adopt out, then he's been waiting for his family to get back from holidays. Today is his day; he gets to go home!

Max has been potentially the hardest and the easiest foster I've had. He's easy going, wanting to please and lives to cuddle. But he had no idea how to behave in a house as he likely hadn't been in one. He had frequent marking accidents and this was hard to break; he's stil not fully cured of that problem but he's well on the way as he take correction very easily and wants to please.

Max also had health problems. He came in after he had been mauled by dogs and he developed an abcess at one bite site. That required a drainage tube. After he had been here maybe a day or two, he passed a live tapework, YUCK! So, that required attention as I just can't handle the worms. Then, we learned he had allergies and it's been a long, steady process to get his diet under control. He also has a bit of an ear thing, likely related to his allergies. Max had endured it all with calm attitude and just lets it all happen. He's great that way!

Max deserves a great life. I think Max is getting that today as he moves on to his new home!  I'll miss you Maxim, be good little man!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Black is Beautiful

So, I've been reading lots of blogs lately and in the process, I've encountered some great blogs with good writing and lovely pictures. One of the great things about Doggy Blogs is you start to get to know new people who love their four legged buds just as much as you do.
I've discovered Dexter, another lovely black lab, over at Mango and Dexter's great adventures who is hosting a contest for all the lovely black labbies out there. Of course, I HAVE to enter Sophie. She made me.  So, in honour of said contest, a little black is beautiful photoshoot, representing a quiet, rainy day for us...


Napping on the bed, while I write a paper...


Supervising mye efforts to cook dinner. I know she really, really wanted that Shepherd's Pie, but I'm on overdrive, keeping things off the counter. Poor Sophie, she would like you to know she's starving to death, as a result.




"Hmmm, what's that smell... are you sure I can't have some Shepherd's Pie, mom?? C'mon, please??"




Bored now. Must yawn. 




Ah, pretty girl!




And, not to be left out, Spike himself, come to check on dinner in the kitchen too.  I love my black kids, what can I say??

There was a time in my life, right after I lost Mortimer that I said NO BLACK DOGS, NO MALES and NO BORDER COLLIES OR MIXES!!  Of course, I met Spike and had to bring him home. And, when I was thinking about getting Spike a friend, I knew I wanted a bouncing, silly, goofball of a lab. I put in my order with Sophie's breeder, telling her I wanted a Yellow Male, please and thank you very much. So, of course in Soph's litter, there were 10 pups all together, 6 males, 4 females ALL BLACK. So, the rest is history. I have come to love these little black faces, and even if there is a little white face in the midst now, we won't hold that against her. We all know Murph aspires to be just like Sophie anyway!! Black dogs are beautiful and one was clearly not enough!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New and Improved Cuisinart!

First of all, sorry dear blog readers for the potential fear of four legged disaster that blog title from yesterday likely caused you, especially in light of Sophie's gastronomical misadventures of late!  But, there are a few things you need to know about me.

First of all, I am a Graduate Student. That alone explains lots. And, I teach full-time on top of that, which I believe is the very definition of insanity. However, that is my life and that's what it is.

Second, I have a long standing love of coffee. People who have known me since the early days of my very first bachelor degree (in music, nonetheless) will attest to my love of coffee. I may drink less now, but it's a huge necessity in my day.  I have been through a few coffeemakers in my day, but I loved that last one as it's seen me through the last ten years or so of life which included several moves, within two provinces and a few major life crisis. Yup, my coffee is THAT important.

Third, I am very brand conscious when it comes to my kitchen appliances. I believe in spending a few extra dollars to get a good brand that will last and look lovely on my counter. And, within the realm of coffeemakers, I love Cuisinart.  So, I knew the old one wasn't going to last much longer and I started to research what I wanted a few months ago. I kept coming back to Cuisinart.  Yesterday morning, it was finally time to set out to Saskatoon (a whole 15 minute drive for me!) and see what I could find.

Home Outfitters didn't have one, and the gal there wasn't really that helpful; I don't think she fully understood the gravity of the situation and that there would need to be a new coffeemaker for Jen today!  So, I went to London Drugs where not only did I find the exact Cuisinart I wanted, it was on sale!! That's the fourth thing to know about me; I love a good sale.

So, without further ado, here's the new coffeemaker...


It's similar to my old one, and uses the same carafe so that is nice. But, it has an added bonus of having a hot water dispenser built in! No more heating water on the stove for a cup of tea!! That is very exciting to me and it was for less than what it would cost me to replace my old coffeemaker with the new Cuisinart version of it.

So, now I can resume my normal activities of fighting Sophie off my morning cup of coffee; we'll see who gets to finish that first cup tomorrow morning! 

Monday, August 9, 2010

It's a sad day...

Because my trusty coffeemaker made it's final pot of coffee this morning, then promptly shut itself off, never to be used again. It's sad.... even Sophie is upset because she KNOWS what I am like without coffee.

See, she won't even look at me, or come in!!



I'll miss you trusty coffeemaker (who has now totally ruined my plans of homework for the day to run into the city to buy a new one. And, if I am going to do that, I might as well take Spike to the agility field for a practice. Problem is, it's 7:30 and hot already. Store doesn't open until 9:30... I think Spike and I will practice now, and I'll hit the store on the way home. See, that's crazy talk isn't it?!?).



Anyway, poor, poor Cusinart....I've had many happy years with you. Ah well, time for a replacement.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Time to lighten and go for a run

It's been pretty heavy around here lately with me working hard on Grad School and Sophie working overtime as a canine hoover. However, she's recovered fully and is back to her normal, bratty self.  In honour of that, I decided to take the dogs for a run at "Gopher Heights", AKA, Rebecca's field at The Poop Guys.

My dogs LIVE to go to Rebecca's. I have NEVER had dogs this excited to go to their boarding kennel before. Let me demonstrate the joy a bit... a snippet of video, filmed on the gravel road, just outside Rebecca's place. (Just so you know, I pointed the camera over my shoulder to film as a I crept down the gravel road... there was no danger in the filming of this clip, even if I was driving at the time.)

video


And, a second clip to give you even more of a grasp on what I live with.. CRAZY, SCREAMING dogs!  This tends to happen for a good 3-4 KM's before arriving. They know when the car points in the direction of Rebecca's that there is fun to be had.

video




Now, it's really hot out today. I let out Spike's newest girlfriend Maggie for a play and she really didn't want to move too much. But, isn't she gorgeous?? And, she's a very laid back Sophie, so I was tempted to swap them and see if Mag's owners realized, hehe. Something tells me they would know right away, HA!


Isn't she pretty? 

Then, I let the little dogs out for a run in the big field. This includes Murphers, who I like to let play with the little uns occasionally, just so she doesn't forget she's small, like them.  There were the two cutest little black Shih Tzus. And, Santa of course, along with Izzy and Quinn.


I have no idea if that is Chewy or Truck Truck, but he's sure a cutie!

And, Quinn of course, sunning herself before Murphy came along and jumped on her, leading to a game of chase.


As for Spike, I didn't see much of him once he was out... he was zooming here and there, looking for gophers.


Oh, there he is.... 



And, there he goes...

He doesn't really stop moving, unless he wants to attempt to dig a gopher out of a hole. There was none of that today, just running, running and more running.

Poor little Murphy attempted to run with the big kids, but sadly she was separated by a fence.



That's ok, she sure can fence chase!! Look at that turn... I hope that starts to turn into a lovely swimmer's turn for flyball! :)



And, of course, there is Sophie who insisted on doing lots of fence chasing herself, with Murphy and Santa (who moves to fast, let me tell you to get a decent photo!)



Here she comes...



Here she is... yeah for happy Sophie!



And, after all that running, the black dogs needed to cool down.... so the question is, how many Black Dogs can you fit in a tiny pool?


Well, 2 until Sophie forces Spike out...



Tired, tired Sophie girl!

And, last but not least,  Murph with her RIDICULOUS ears!! Seriously, is she a Jack Russell or a German Shepherd??  


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Life Lessons from Sophie

Sophie is a thief. I have known this for some time, but it is getting worse and worse all the time. She counter surfs with the greatest of abandon and ease but times if to coincide with me being out of the room so she can pop up and see what is there. I can't catch her in the act which makes it nearly impossible to train out of her.

She used to randomly steal food off the counter. Lately it's been utensils to lick clean, presumably. She doesn't want to chew them, just lick them. She will even steal cutlery out of the sink to lick, even when there's dirty dish water there.  Exhibit A... spatula on the living room floor (look at how clean that carpet is!! I just bought a steam cleaner and it can cover for a multitude of doggy "sins" on the floor!)


Yup, freshly licked clean after I cooked bacon.  Tell me, is this the face of a guilty dog?? YOU BET!




I've always hated that Sophie does this, but I have decided it's a lab trait and I must live with it. After all, my vet has told me stories that make my toes curl and worry that much more. And, did you know that about 85% of all emergency trips to the vet for foreign body injesting accidents are labs? I am convinced the other 15% are terriers because I wouldn't put it past Murphy to do something similar. She tried to jump on the counter the other day and that got squashed fast!

However, Sophie crossed a line last night into dangerous territory. I was making homemade pizza and had left dough on the counter, ready to go in the deep freeze. I don't know what I was thinking but I left the room to get something out of my office, a few steps away. In the time I was gone, Sophie got the dough off the counter and had eaten 1/4 of it. I, of course panicked, and ran to the computer to google what to do. All I could find was information telling me how bad this is, as the rising dough will continue to rise in the tummy, potentially causing it to twist and bloat, thereby needing immediate intervention, possibly surgery to get it out or it could kill her. So, I called my vet who gave me the following information:

3 TBSP 3% hydrogen peroxide given straight down the throat. If she doesn't throw up in 15 minutes, do it again. If it doesn't work, rush her into the vet clinic.

Lifesaving information people!! You have to shove it down there; Sophie was not happy but down it went, and 5 minutes later all that dough came out.  She was very stinky last night (but that could have been the nearly full bag of Mighty Wolf Dog Treats she had stolen previously in the day and eaten) and seemed a little tired but fine. Today, she is back to normal... see, she's looking  a little cranky that Murphy has decided to steal her shot...



And again, still avoiding looking at me (and looking a little rumpled. That is NOT the sign she is not feeling well, that was panic that Murphy was coming too close, LOL) This is typical early morning stuff for Sophie!



Anyway, I've decided enough is enough. I am taking back my kitchen and I am going to work on catching her in the act. Or, maybe I'll get one of those "scat cat mats"; I think that's what they are called. The principle is simple, they shock the animal a bit who jumps up on the counter and maybe that would help? Of course, training her to stay out of the kitchen would be ideal but impossible in this house; to go out to the backyard, she has to go through the kitchen. Anyway, any ideas to help live with a crazy, food stealing labby are welcome... we seriously need an intervention here!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Practice Make Perfect!

I've been super busy the last weeks with University work, and starting to get my mind around going back to work. However, I've interspersed this with some solid agility work with Spike and some foundation work with Murphy.

Murphy is a challenge to train. She's easily bored, very distractable and sometimes hard to motivate. Somethings come very easy with her and others are painful to train. So, for example, she likes to do 2 on, 2 off contact work and this has come very easily to her. Recalls, on the other hand are very hit and miss and are nearly driving me to the point of craziness! However, I've chosen this as my battle with her, so I have gone back to puppy basics of working on "Come".  So, I've made it into a game, in the house now, whenever I think about it. I've got food treats hidden around the house, and randomly, I'll call Murph to me and when she does, she gets a reward. Every now and again she'll even get a jackpot if she's come speedily along. It's clearly beginning to pay off because the other day I was cutting the lawn and she managed to squeeze through the fence. I gave her a minute, and played a little game of "chase me" with her; Murphy chasing me, not the other way around.  Then called her into the garage. Granted, I had to use a piece of Buffalo out of the deep freeze to lure her in but she did come, right away! Success, right?

Spike and I are getting ready for our first trials this fall. I am so excited and nervous at the same time, but I am sending in his forms Monday to register so there will be no turning back!  I've been working hard on details with Spike; getting his tire jump comfortable and getting his jump heights up to 26". He wants to make me happy and he works sooo hard for me, it's amazing to see his progress. Over the last 2 or 3 weeks, Spike and I have accomplished the following:

1. Spike is now running the teeter comfortable, unaided, and doing a touch at the end.
2. Spike is jumping through a 22" tire. I need to get this up to 26" still, but I have some time left!
3. Spike is single stride jumping 5 26" jumps, set at 10 feet apart. I can't believe he can bounce over these jumps with the ease he does!
4. Spike is jumping the double jump comfortably at 26".
5. Spike is jumping a jump/spread jump combination, both at 26" with no problems.
6. Spike and I managed a 26" jump with a send to a 22" tire, me rear crossing behind. We did this more than once so it wasn't a fluke! WOOHOO!

That being said, I still have lots of work to do! We still need to accomplish the following:
1. Weaves, sigh. I am stuck somewhere on these!!
2. Front crosses. I am lacking coordination somewhere there.
3. Contacts. Spike is doing ok on his contacts but I still want to focus on these until I am 100% certain he knows what I expect and will do it automatically. I realize this could take a lifetime, sigh.
4. Hmmm, what else?? Well, putting things into combination and building sequences up. This takes time, I guess!!

Anyway, I have to admit, my boy has come a long, long way and I am seeing a dog intent on working. He's matured so beautifully, I can't ask for anything more!