Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Week

I have been wanting to post an update all week, but life has gotten in the way. It's even gotten in the way of commenting on blogs; I want you to know I am reading still, whether I have commented or not! I can manage that much at least!

So, what have I been up to?

Well, working on Sophie, of course. She's doing well but has thrown a couple fits in despair at the "new rules". Really, they aren't that strict- sleep in your crate at night, no barking at the window, don't come up on furniture unless I ask or say yes,  no stealing food off the counter. We've been 95% successful so far, to that's very good news! Today will be a test as we go to agility class- the first in awhile I've made it to with Soph. We'll see.

Otherwise, she's been busy licking yogurt containers clean

She's also been laying about feeling somewhat peevish and sorry for herself. But, no worries, she's coming along quicker than I thought in the manners department! I feel somewhat lucky that she is a quick learner and not really stubborn at all as it's making this a lot easier than it could have been! I've also kind of cautioned myself to remember that while I don't want her walking all over me, this is also a dog who has lived in constant discomfort for much of her life; that changes them, I believe. So, anyway, manners are getting here.

A good chunk of the week has been spent in the yard, getting cleanup done. I didn't get the leaves cleaned up in the fall as it snowed early and stayed.  So, this is the result, at the 3/4 clean point:
I do have a compost, but I don't try to save much from the backyard as I just can't bring myself to compost anything from a place where the dogs have used the bathroom. So, black bags. Sigh.

But, the good news is that I have found my weaves and training has resumed with all three dogs!  Yeah for that!!

We've had a couple storms this week... strange, I think to have thunder storms in April, but I guess so! I came home one evening to find Spike a mess his crate, shivering and drooling. The next evening, he huddled in the shower downstairs. Poor boy! I have a thundershirt I need to find- I put it somewhere safe at the end of the season, last year and can't find it! As well, I may try Melatonin for him this summer.

The girls, fortunately are blissfully ignorant of storms. Phew!  Well, except Soph will sometimes ask to go out as she loves rain, silly girl! They tend to nap them away.

The rest of the week has been spent getting my life in order- cleaning the house, paying bills and creating a bit of a budget for myself, sigh. And, studying, of course! I have become hyper motivated to get done my thesis FAST because it means a stop in tuition payments, a pay raise at work and the ability to think about a newer vehicle. Murphy has taken all this very seriously and has been quite concerned, haha! She's napped a bunch in the bed by my desk.

Soph has hung out in the office with me too, most of the week.

Spike has come in and checked on progress then wandered off to nap in the bathroom.

Such a strange dog!

Ah well, all in all it's been a very productive, busy week. I head back to work on Monday and it's 8 weeks until summer holidays.... it'll be a very busy 8 weeks, so stay tuned for updates on agility trials, research and Sophie's life lessons. :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Defining Moments

I've been thinking about this post for days, knowing I had lots to say, but I've been unsure how to go about getting it out.  Life is a series of defining moments, I've become more convinced of that lately. These are moments that make life crystal clear and the direction you are aiming for very certain. Or they can change the course of your life forever.

I've had several of those, and an unusual amount of crystal clear moments this winter and spring. But, most are way beyond the scope of this old blog, so will have to remain as just that; defining moments in my career and personal life that are changing who I am and where I am heading.

I've been very aware that I am just coming up on an anniversary of one such moment; nearly 5 years ago, I was in a car accident that caused the loss of my beloved, albeit way to much dog for me, dog Mortimer. It set into motion a series of events that brought Spike into my life and a determination to have a dog who could run dog sports.

Another such moment is just past; 3 years ago at Easter time, my niece Katherine was diagnosed with Leukemia. This changed my path as I found myself living in the Saskatoon area, when I had planned all along to go to Edmonton.  Katherine is about 9 months past chemo treatments, has a head full of red curly hair and enough spunk to propel her forward into life. She's full of energy, joy and happiness. Yes, she's well on the road to being just fine.  But, still a defining, life changing moment and with one simple declaration from a doctor changed my family forever.

This past weekend was another moment for me, in several ways. I attended an agility seminar with Spike and that was a moment for me. We accomplished more than I thought possible, and for the first time this winter I walked away feeling like I CAN run agility, Spike and I CAN be successful and I am able to do this!  I felt that way in the fall, after running a couple trials but I am feeling like I am getting there, not just my dog; I've never doubted Spike's ability, but I have questioned mine. I want to run agility, be successful,  and someday teach and judge agility myself. It's a new goal.

The other moment occured thanks to Sophie. Sophie met my friend this weekend from Edmonton who has multiple labs, all very sweet, all very good agility dogs. Sophie was her usual, wild self and my friend set me straight. She told me the truth, which I heard loud and clear: Sophie is an unmannered, badly behaved dog. And, I heard the message loud and clear and as such have changed Sophie's life forever. I am on a journey to learn to be a better dog owner; I babied her because I felt bad about how bad she felt. I babied her because she was cute and gave me "the eyes". As a result? I have a dog who is difficult to live with and I now have the task of cleaning up the mess. So, end result? Sophie is on "manners bootcamp" where she has no freedom in the house, is on strict leash walking routines, and is earning back privileges like "sleeping outside of the crate at night". It's hard work being consistent, but I am way more stubborn and determined than she is. I do not want a dog who snaps at another unsuspecting, undeserving lab. I do not want a coffee thieving, food thieving dog in my house. I do not want a dog who has no self control because I haven't taught her to use what she has. The defining moment was clear; I do not have to live like this anymore.

I've struggled with Sophie's behaviours for a long time. There's no doubt that she is a spirited, willful dog but I haven't had the plan in mind until last weekend. That's when it became crystal clear; I can have a normal, happy, EASY TO LIVE WITH lab, if I decide that's what I want.  So, stay tuned on updates about Sophie's "manners bootcamp". We'll get there, her and I.  I'm way more stubborn than her and already in the span of a week have seen "baby steps" towards improvement. At this moment, I'll take what I can get.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

This little muffin...

is 4 today!  Happy Birthday Sophie girl!

Longer post to follow to show what we've been up to lately!  In the meantime, I better go give the birthday cuddles this morning.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Murphy the Hoarder

Last evening, I gave all three dogs Elk Bones to munch on for the evening. It makes it much easier for me to focus and write, like I need to, if I don't have the dogs giving me the evil eye for not taking them for a run or playing fetch or practicing weaves like we need to.

I don't know how she does it, but Murphy managed to steal Spike's bone and squirrel it away in her crate where she commenced with flashing teeth and glaring at him as he got too close. Don't mess with Murph, after all, unless you are momma who can stick her hand into said crate and take Spike's bone back. Crisis adverted!

Really, they are MY bones. Both of them, they really, really are!

Are you sure about that? (Poor, mopey Spike!)

Yup, they are MINE!

Ah, much better... Spike has his bone back. Thanks Brave Momma!

Sophie happily staying out of it!

And, finally- further evidence that Murphy is the strangest dog I have ever owned.  Breakfast on the slant.
Just for the record, we are working nose touches for contact equipment in agility. And, she was in a lovely sit, on the stool, waiting for her breakfast. Unasked, she dove into a 2o/2o position, hit the floor with her nose, then looked at me for her breakast. LOL! Why can't she do that in class now??  

Murph, you are a strange beasty, aren't you?? :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Studious Sophie

I am studying these days. Or rather, frantically writing to finish what I hope is my last paper of this degree, except for my thesis of course. I will know Thursday if I have to sneak in another class over the summer or not. In any case, I even missed agility last night (BOO!) to write. Let's just say, by 8PM, I moved it to the bed where I thought I would be more comfortable. Big mistake, that's for sure.  Sophie insisted on helping, then before I knew it, we were both sound asleep.

See, she's curled up with my Feminist Standpoint Reader. And yeah. Within the hour, both of us were lightly snoring.

Ah well, one big last push to get this done as I am defending my thesis proposal on Thursday afternoon AND running Spike in an agility seminar this weekend. Can't wait to get through the defense and onto the fun of my weekend!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Workin' Weekend

I am at the kennel this weekend, and for LONG hours at that. So, the dogs get to go.  It's been NON STOP run, run, dig for Spike and Murphy while Sophie is content to spend hours running between them and the fence line to check for cats. They crack me up!

In any cases, I got some photos yesterday of some of the action.  There is still a tiny bit of snow, but it's mainly mud now so spring must truly be here!

Way out in the field!

Spike found the soccer ball, big suprise!

C'mon, play with me!!

Rebecca has 3 New Hope Foster pups staying with her- all super cute, sweet and friendly. All watched and waited to be allowed to play with Spike and Sophie (Which never happened! Sorry little foster guys!)  This is Snicker- she has the most amazing eyebrows!

Aeron- a husky mix.

Sable, Snicker's sister. Their Momma is a Lab, and who knows who daddy is! :)  They turned out to look either rather shepherdy like Sable or rather labby, like Snicker.

Spike with a wild look in his eyes- that's his "KICK THE BALL!" look.

Sadly, one of the few photos of Murph- she's been a blur all weekend!

Princess Sophie. Notice what while her "sit" is still a bit off, it's MUCH BETTER than it has been in 2 years!!!  She was a bit stiff last night, after all the running, but it's all in her knee, not her hips. I can live with that!! She still managed to walk with 4 paws on the floor and worked the stiff out quickly. Yeah for Sophie girl being much, much better!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Murphy's chair

Murphy has claimed a chair on the deck. It HAS to be hers now... she made her mark on it already! To be fair, I believe Ringo had a paw in this wanton destruction, but it's very clear to me that nobody but Murph will be able to use this chair again.

It's the "I see you, why won't you let me in" look.

And, the "Maybe if I stare more intently at you, you will open that door!" look.

Oh Murphers... so much for my chair!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Beautiful Mornings

I am up early because even if it is a weekend, I can't change that I am a morning person. I love the quiet, slow, steady pace of a morning, coffee in hand as I prepare to face the day.

I glanced out the window this morning and had to grab the camera.

I saw the most beautiful, deep red sunrise. I couldn't help but try to photograph it, but the pictures do not do justice to it.

And, over here is a picture of my muddy road. Spring seems to finally be here, and even though it is very slow to warm up, it is still warm enough to go out in a sweater only. It's beautiful and the snow is starting to go. I can't help myself, but I am starting to really plan out my garden for this summer. I am going to plant lots of strawberries where Sophie can't get them and a peony bush for sure. It just makes me happy to think about summer and planting my garden and maybe feeling like I have a little time for myself to putter in it.

And, finally, my best boy because Spike hasn't made many appearances on the blog lately. He's not so far away from his 6th birthday and I can't help but notice how grey my boy is getting. Wish they could stay young forever, but there is something quite sweet about a steady, reliable middle aged dog who has settled into who they are with a confidence that didn't exist in puppyhood. Love that boy so much. :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Hope You Know... You're My Hero -A Celebration of Man's Best Friend

I borrowed this from Robin, over at The Year of the Chocolate Bunny, but I thought it worth posting here. Made me tear up this morning, so tissue alerts to you too. :)

Happy Friday and Happy April all!