Monday, 31 December 2012

home for christmas

This year I made the 3 hour trek to my parents house for Christmas. Ace, Piper, Archie, and I spent 3 very interesting days there. Overall, I think it was a success!

Archie sitting on the tile at the front door.
Piper survived her boots, and was not even fighting them by the end of the trip. They are a little big for her, so they would fall off once in a while, but overall the boots were a success.

Ace was his normal, lazy bones self. Cuddling with anyone who would give him space on the couch. He is always a hit with my parents.

Archie was also good, with one exception. The first morning there he pooped and peed under my dad's work bench. My dad doesn't like cats to begin with so this was not a good thing to happen. I moved his litter box to a more open spot and Archie decided that now the box was where he wanted it to be, he would use it. He also had a good cuddle with my 86 year old Grandma, which gave him lots of points.

My Aunt and her partner also brought over their 7 month old Australian Labradoodle (aka lab x poodle x cocker spaniel x irish waterdog x something else I can't remember) on Christmas day. He was very cute, and played well with Piper when they were running around in the basement, but when they were around all the people he was getting pretty snappy with her. He seemed to be possessive over toys (which were actually Piper's) and also his space overall. It was kind of odd, considering how well they played together in the basement. Hopefully my Aunt will work on whatever issues he may have so they do better next Christmas.

Ace being forced to dance with my sister. He's clearly thrilled.
I have the whole next week off, so I'm looking forward to doing lots of hikes and training with the dogs! Oh yeah, and schoolwork. Blah.

Thursday, 8 November 2012


Dog-related goals that is.

Piper is 5 months old now, so it's time to set some realistic goals for what I want to accomplish with her.

We are currently enrolled in a Competition Puppy class, working on tuck sits, stands, and learning to love the heel position! So far I'm finding the class a lot of fun - way more fun than the Attention class I took with Ace. Maybe if we start at the bottom, I may actually be motivated to compete in traditional obedience? We'll see.

Anyways, my first goal is to do the Canine Good Neighbour (CGN) test with Piper sometime this winter. Ideally in January or February. It's easy to practice for it in my neighbourhood pet store, so I have no excuse not to do it soon!

Before she hits a year, I would also like to have her complete a Herding Instinct Test, and a Disc Dog Proficiency Test. Both are simple tests, and look at natural abilities more than training. But I think they would both be good things to have under her belt! It looks like there are lots of local Disc Dog events, so it might be a convenient sport to pick up, although I don't have a lot of desire to get really competitive with it.

Finally, I would like Piper to do her Rally Novice, and Ace to do his Rally Advanced sometime in the spring or summer.

Now that I've written it down, we'll see how I can keep up with it! It looks like an awful lot of things to do. We'll all have to work very hard to accomplish it all.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

we survived!

Well, we officially survived our first weekend at my parent's house. You remember, the one with the precious floors?

Lucky Ace got to wear his mut-luks, he's very stoic about it. Honestly, he takes it like a champ. I just have to watch that his dew claws don't get stuck above the boot, since I'm guessing that would be pretty uncomfortable.

Archie acquired a lovely set of black nail caps. He's all dressed up for halloween now! Actually, I think this is the most manly Archie has ever looked. Well, it will be once I take off his collar with the flowers and heart-shaped ID tag :)

And lucky Piper is apparently too small for her nails to scratch the floors, so she got away with bare feet the whole two days we were visiting! I'm guessing she won't be so lucky next time, but maybe the long fur on her feet will help protect the floor? The only catch was that she was not allowed to run. As you can imagine, trying to keep any four-month old puppy from running over a two day period would be a challenge. Let alone an active dog like an Aussie? Wishful thinking!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

they grow so fast

Puppies, that is. Piper is 16 weeks old now, and growing like a weed. When I got her at 9 weeks she weighed about 9 lbs, when she was weighed at 15 weeks she was 22 lbs. Cute as a button still though! She's starting to mature into a beautiful dog - she is good on leash and off.

Piper runs through the forest, with lots of rocks and exposed roots to jump over.
She is still a voracious chewer, but more and more is choosing appropriate chew toys. And accidents in the house are a rare occurrence. Piper will also sleep through the night, up to 10 hours! The lazy person in me is ecstatic. Tug and fetch are always popular games, although I have to separate Ace and Piper during fetch.

The only thing Piper is less than stellar about is respecting the other animals. She pesters Ace to no end, I feel bad for the poor guy and generally have to step in so he can nap in peace. She is a little better with Archie, bugging him less often, but she will on occasion tackle him as well, which I can't imagine he is thrilled about. I believe this is herding instinct run wild. I keep waiting for the day that both Ace and Archie will stand up to her. Hopefully it happens soon!

Piper herds Ace on our hike

Who me? Piper's guilty face.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012


Archie has been with me for about four and a half years now, and in that time I've been very cautious with him. He is a strictly indoor cat, once or twice a year I will take him out on a leash. He loves hanging out in windows and looking out the door, but has never really pushed his luck in his escape attempts.

Yesterday was different. I was taking my garbage out and had both dogs on leashes. I didn't even see him get outside. I put Ace in a down-stay by the garbage cans and was clearing everything out, when he broke his stay and raced towards the apartment. The guys doing work on the apartment beside mine said he chased an orange and white cat up the stairs. I thought "That's weird, I've never seen a loose orange and white cat in this neighbourhood". I got my trash to the curb and went inside to feed the animals.

I poured the kibble into the dish...and Archie was nowhere to be seen. Uh oh. An orange and white cat that ran up the stairs? Uh oh.

So I go back outside and check the staircase - no cat. I check in the yard, my neighbours yard, and took a quick walk down the street, shaking the kibble dish as I went. No luck.

The humane society didn't open until 9:00, so I had half an hour before I could report him missing. I made up a poster with his picture and contact information, and would take short walks around the block, shaking his kibble dish.

By the time I got through to the humane society, I was distraught. I kept thinking that I had lost him forever - he would get hit by a car, get in a fight with another cat, or just get lost and not be able to find his way home.

The woman who answered the phone was very helpful. She took down a description of him, and my information. She explained the best way to make a LOST poster, and suggested I sprinkle some old litter in the yard and leave the door cracked open, so he could smell his way home. I was also provided with the number of the microchip company, so I could update Archie's information.

I immediately followed her instructions and propped the door open (dogs in their crates, so I didn't have other escapees). I called the microchip company to give my address and phone number, and they made a note on his file that he was missing. I went out side to sprinkle litter in the yard...and who do I see sitting at the side of the road?

Archie. My super intelligent cat was sitting on the road with his nose stuffed in my neighbours catnip plant. I walked over and picked him up - tragedy averted. He was out in the world for a total of an hour and a half.

I am so grateful to have my little kitten back, and truly appreciate the kindness of the people at the Guelph Humane Society and Microchip Solutions. And I will definitely be more careful closing my door from now on!

Friday, 24 August 2012

introducing piper!

Meet my new addition, Piper! She is a Red Merle Australian Shepherd, and my new (hopefully) sport dog. Bred by Wendy at No Rulz Aussies, she was born on June 20th, 2012, to parents Jynx and Riggs. Registered name is No Rulz Red Alert.

Piper side profile, looking up at a treat!
Piper was the first puppy born in a litter of eight, four males and four females. She is certainly full of beans, always running around with the zoomies! I brought home some little tennis balls for her, and she is already consistently retrieving them, which I'm so excited about!

Piper looking into the camera. Her eyes are changing from blue to hazel.
Her first night home, she slept a full 9 hours! Unfortunately it appears that was a fluke... it looks like we'll be getting up around 5am for the next few nights, until she has more bladder control. She eats good, poops good, and has only had a few accidents, which is to be expected from a nine week old puppy.

Napping on the floor! Her coat has a really striking pattern.

Further updates and pictures to come soon!

Monday, 30 July 2012

foster failure

Well, I must admit, Ollie is a foster failure. When most people say that, it means they just cannot give the dog up and decide to keep it. But that's not what I mean. I am sending Ollie on to another foster family - I cannot keep him until he is adopted. I have failed in providing even a temporary home for him. Despite how horrendous he behaved in the beginning, I am giving him up simply because life moves forward, and I need a break from him before the next chapter begins.

Ollie's behaviour has improved tremendously in the two and a half months he has been with me. He is now fairly comfortable with Archie, still occasionally chasing him but he calls off very easily. We have developed a routine (relying very heavily on games of fetch) and he has relaxed in his barking. Still annoying though, I must admit.

Ollie curled up in the blue armchair, watching me.
In truth, the only thing we have made no progress with are his reactions to other dogs when out for a walk. His barking fits are so focused and intense he scares me. Nothing I can do will break his focus. We spent several weeks working with other dogs on leash and he made quite a bit of progress, even being able to walk beside my friend's German Shepherd after only three sessions, however he begins all over with a new dog. So when we go for walks I take him to a nearby heritage cemetery, where we can do obedience drills and practice heeling without worrying about the dog that may be around the corner. It is a little odd, but that is the only place I am comfortable walking him.

Since I am heading out for vacation next week, the timing was right to give him back. I hope his next foster home is with someone more confident, who can help him overcome his issues with other dogs so he can find his forever home!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

ollie the terrible

Well. It has been a turbulent three weeks, I must admit. Ollie the Australian Shepherd has been with me almost a month now. He is an interesting fellow. He's about 6 weeks older than Ace, but acts more like a 1 year old.

Ollie mouths, jumps on people, chases my cat and barks. He gets nervous and barks at people, gets excited and barks at dogs, gets anxious and barks at the people upstairs, and finally, gets playful and barks at Archie. Have I mentioned that I HATE BARKING???

But really, he is getting better. Just very slowly. I'm hoping I will start to actually enjoy having him here soon, but for right now, he's still a pain in the butt.

He's very driven, which I was expecting. But he reminds me of a little kid, the way he always has to win. He throws a bit of a tantrum if he doesn't win. His biggest problem is that he focuses on the wrong things, and I have a hard time getting him to focus back on me. But I think that is a bonding issue as well - he'll get better as he's with me longer, and likely have to start again with the next person.

I was in touch with the coordinator today, trying to get his status to move up. After almost a month, they still had not started looking for a home for him, or advertised him as up for adoption. Now I'm happy to have him here, but he is a very trying dog, and I would like to see him placed permanently earlier rather than later.

So his bio is written, and hopefully it goes up soon!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

archie the cat

I've been told I don't talk about my cat often enough. Probably because although I love my cat, I'm not really a cat person. However when I had been out of my parent's house for about a year and a half, I just could not stand being without a pet. Longest year and a half of my life! I decided to volunteer at the local humane society, obviously that didn't last long. I was a horrible volunteer who adopted after a few months and stopped volunteering. Anyways, here is Archie's story.

Archie looking pretty for the camera
I adopted Archie 4 years ago from the Kitchener Humane Society. He was 4 1/2 at the time, and had been dropped off in an outdoor bin during the night. He was neutered, clean, and a little overweight; clearly a house cat! I've always wondered where he came from. My best guess is that he was probably owned by a little old lady who either passed away, or moved into a nursing home. If the family didn't want to keep him, they could have dropped him off at the shelter overnight to avoid paying the surrender fee.

I faced quite a bit of discrimination adopting Archie. Even though I was a volunteer, the first person I spoke to said they would not adopt him to me because I was a student and had never had a cat before. I continued to go back on different days, hoping to talk to someone else who would consider me. I eventually found someone who agreed, but required letters from my landlord, parents, and all my roommates to go meet him. I know other students who went in to look around and came out with a cat, so all this hoop-jumping pissed me off quite a bit. But I persevered, and ended up with a great cat!
Archie sleeping on an abandoned dog bed, beside some dog toys
I do admit, adopting Archibald was a big risk - many cats despise change and I have a very mobile lifestyle. However Archie has successfully moved with me nine times in those four years. He loves visiting with people, so going to my parent's house or the cottage for the weekend is an adventure to him! He is an indoor cat - with all the moving I do, I'm not comfortable letting him roam around outside.

And I admit, I am a control freak. I would worry about him the whole time he was outside.

He is a pretty funny fellow. Some days he follows me around and won't stay out of my lap. Other days I only see him at meal times (his favourite time of day). He is very skilled at breaking into food containers, breaking curtains, stealing food, terrorizing my fish, and getting into various other types of mischief.

Another admission: dog behaviour I understand, but Archie continues to boggle my mind, even after sharing my life with him for so long. Cats are crazy.

Archie snuggling on my lap
Sleeping in his hideous cat-house

I could never give him though, because although he's pretty wacky, he's my kitten. I love his little purr and dirty nose, and have learned to deal with his many misadventures. And honestly? My favourite time of day is right before bed, with Ace sprawled across my legs and Archie curled up on my chest. I love my beasties to death, and am so grateful for all the things they have done for me.
I know I would not be the same without Archie.  

imminent arrival

It appears my first ARPH rescue dog will arrive next Sunday! After years of thinking and months of planning, I have officially been approved as an ARPH foster family. Yay!

Ollie is my intended first foster dog, a young male with black tri colouring. Housebroken, crate-trained, good with kids and other dogs - he will likely only be with me for a few weeks, but I think he will make for a great first rescue foster!

As you may know I've pretty much been obsessed with Australian Shepherds for a few years now, and I'm hoping they will live up to my expectations :)

Friday, 20 April 2012

end of year one

Well it's official, I'm finished the first year of the Masters of Landscape Architecture program! Yay!

So, now what?

Well, since I have two more years to go in the program, there's no point in getting too excited yet. Two more years of homework and loans. Yippee.

But for! Which is ok. I'm still part-time at the pet store, which works out well. I'm also driving out to Oakville to do a garden maintenance job two or three days a week, so hopefully I will make enough money to survive. Likely won't get any vacation though, which is unfortunate.

Also not helping my poverty, Ace and Archie had they're annual check up/vaccines/titers today. $500 for two animals, and neither was even sick! Out of this world.

On the plus side, I am eagerly awaiting my first rescue Aussie. I'm not really sure of the status of my application, but I'm hoping to get a foster in the next few weeks.

Hopefully I will have some better news to report in my next post!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

foster application submitted!

Well, it's official. I sent in my application to foster for Aussie Rescue last Thursday.

It's been about two years in the works, and I can't wait to hear back! My apartment has been so quiet since Willow left, I need more doggie challenges! I've been in touch with the coordinator several times in the past week doing reference checks for adoptive homes, and she mentioned that my references are really good, so I'm hoping they'll do a home visit in the next few weeks, and that I might get a foster dog by the end of April :)

I do have one concern with the process though. As far as I know I will be expected to pay the dog's vet bills and be reimbursed at a later date. I can afford basic exams, but I do not have enough spare money to spend on a spay/neuter... I hope they will be flexible is this. Maybe they have an ARPH credit card, or another family will pay the cost and submit the claim. We will see. It's possible that even if I am approved, I won't actually be able to foster until the fall, when my OSAP comes in and I have a little extra money in the bank.

But... I'm hopeful it all works out! I've essentially been obsessed with Aussies for years now, I can't wait to learn more about them.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

a great day at the pet store

Had a great dog fix today at work! I probably would not have gotten much homework done anyways, so it was nice to get to play with some puppies and make some money. I got to pet a few little babies including 2 mini Dashunds and a German Shorthaired Pointer. I got to visit with a beautiful Golden Retriever named Barrett who I hadn't seen since he was just a little guy (he's 9 months now), and another little havanese who I used to see about every month or so, but haven't seen since before Christmas.

Many days there are predominant breeds to come in, it's really strange how it works sometimes. Some days we'll see three Great Danes in the store, other days it's German Shepherd, or Labradors. Maybe it has something to do with weather? Or mud? Today was border collies (at least three!) which was neat because I rarely see purebred border collies. And in a year at the pet store, I've only ever seen one collie.

Stormy was 14 year old border collie who came in for a visit, amazingly she had the energy and flexibility to put her paws up on the counter... I was very impressed. His owner was a youngish guy who said she had done lots of agility and flyball in her younger years, no surprise with a border collie. I thought  flyball (and frisbee) dogs tended towards tons of arthritis in their older years because of the impacts, but I guess not always! Happy to be proven wrong... maybe it is a dog sport I should consider with my next pooch?

I've been down to one dog for almost two months now, and I'm still missing my Willow. Can't help but think about my next dog prospect: an Aussie Rescue foster dog. I'd still like to foster a few to decide if I want to go the purebred route or if I want a heinz-57. Worried about passing the application process already, and I won't even be applying until August!

Ugh, now that I'm worried all over again, I better get back to my schoolwork. Too many distractions!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

winter at the cottage - pt 2

A few weeks ago at the cottage, I had a great time testing out my new camera! I took a few landscape shots...

Night shots... 

And action shots!

Ace had a blast playing fetch on the ice with his chuckit frisbee. I do have doubts I should be letting him jump around like with with his bad elbows, but I figure once in a while is ok since he loves it so much!

Don't forget the game of tug with my reluctant mom!

And once in a while, a big miss...

Although we didn't see much sun, a fun weekend was had by all!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

winter at the cottage - part 1

Today is a short post, I have more photos to add, but no time to add them. I love my new camera, but so far the main downside is that the photos take FOREVER to load! Must figure out how to make them just a little bit smaller.

 Toby hanging out in his favourite spot - beside the woodstove!

Venison stew cooking on the woodstove...yum :)

Saturday, 28 January 2012

are rescues too tough on potential adopters?

Here's a link to a great post by Retrieverman:

I think it can go both ways... rescues can be very tough on potential adopters, and needlessly exclude many great families. In fact I was turned down twice by my local humane society before I finally was able to adopt Archie. There was a huge process of getting my landlords permission, having all my roommates meet him, and getting a letter from my parents (even though I was 19), all because I was a student. However a friend of mine (also a student, living in a rental with roommates) went to the same institution, picked out and adopted a cat in one day. It all depends on who you talk to, I suppose.

However, I do agree with the pet always going back to the rescue, if it doesn't work out with the original adoptive family. Although you may be able to find another home for your pet, who is to say they will not turn around and give the pet to someone else? And then that person does the same thing? An animal could easily end up in a bad situation... rescuers love their fosters and just want to ensure they are well taken care of.


Saturday, 21 January 2012

it's that time of year again...

Time to search for a summer job! Now, last summer this was a bit of a bust, I ended up working two part-time retail jobs. Not this summer! I'm going to beef up my resume, and apply apply apply to jobs in both ecology and landscape architecture fields. I feel qualified to do nothing (except maybe work in a pet store!) but my resume reads like I might actually be a good person to hire.

My ideal summer job will:
  • Have both indoor and outdoor components
  • Improve my skills in either ecology or landscape architecture (or maybe both!)
  • Be located within an hour radius of Guelph
  • Pay at least $15/hour (preferably closer to $20/hour)
And finally, there will be potential for me to return next summer. This would negate the need to go through this horrible application process that I will be forced to endure over the next few months!

So, if you know anyone hiring, let me know!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

goodbye willow

Well, Willow has been adopted. And not by me, although I did get to re-home her myself. It was a sad day, but to be honest, it was a long time coming. She was never meant to be mine, and although I will miss her very much I think she is better off. At least I hope so.

Willow was adopted out to an older, retired woman who lives about an hour away. She has two new collie siblings, a seven year old rough tri named Weston, and an eight year old collie cross named Keely. I think Weston and Willow will be great friends, both are exceedingly gentle personalities and love to play chase! And since Willow is the only one of the three agile enough to jump on her new owners bed, I'm sure she will get lots of special cuddle time.

I've been trying to encourage Willow's new owner to continue to feed her Acana (which I switched her to once she was DQ'd), however she is not sure about switching off her vet food (yuck!). I hope Willow and Keely's continuing allergies will help her decide to make the switch.

However, I know she will be loved to death, and that is the important thing. She will be brushed, taken on walks, and treated with respect and affection. And her owner has promised to send me updates of her welfare, and even suggested I go visit in the spring. Yay! After loving and training Willow for almost a year and a half, I'm glad she will not completely leave my life.