Friday, 30 January 2015

winter in muskoka

Winter in Muskoka, otherwise known as "let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!"

There's a lot of snow here. More snow than anywhere I've lived before. And it's cold. Very cold. However, the hiking trails are still phenomenal, my apartment is NOT cold, and work is reasonably busy!

Other than being a freakazoid about having to drive in the snow, I'm really enjoying it up here. In fact, I think I would struggle moving back to southern Ontario.

Here are a whole bunch of winter photos - excuse the crummy quality, I only have a camera on my phone at the moment.

Percy and Archie - no idea what they were getting up to.
Attempted selfie of Piper and I on New Years Day

Lazy night. Barely space for me on that bed!

Hiking/posing at Kerr Park

Snowy Ace, at Wilson Falls (notice his boots, and my snowshoes?!)

Run faster Ace!

Piper at a different section of Kerr Park - and on a different day.

Too cold to go outside? We'll do an indoor workout!

Piper all snuggled up with Percy.

Piper says "I'm gonna get you!" Poor Ace

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Fall CKC trials

In early November, I entered Piper in a two rally novice runs and one obedience pre-novice run at the Georgina Kennel Club Trial. The trial was held in Lindsay, about half an hour from my parent's house, so travel was easy. It was probably the largest trial we had entered, with rally, obedience, and two conformation rings. The whole arena was full of dogs!

Piper was first dog on the line in the obedience ring, and rocked her final pre-novice leg. Yahoo!

We then had to wait about two hours for our first rally run. She already had a leg from the previous winter, and had her ASCA RN from the summer, so I was nervous but didn't doubt she would qualify. Hubris haha. I walked the course and it was a little awkward, but not very many fronts (which I struggle with). When it was our turn, we seemed to breeze through...until we got the second last sign and I thought "hey, I thought there was a similar sign near the beginning of the course...oh shit". I walked right past the third sign on the course. Stupid, nervous Kelly! So we didn't qualify in that run, even though everything else was beautiful. Oh well.

Waiting around another few hours for our second run, we chatted with a woman who had a Toller set up next to us. Turns out I had met her before through a mutual friend. My mom and her friend also stopped in to watch our last run. Now all of a sudden I'm surrounded by people I know and the pressure's on!

Piper warmed up beautifully as we prepared to go into the ring. The judge is already in the ring as we walk in. All of a sudden, Piper won't stop staring at her. I get her attention to start the course. Once we get going, she looks back at the judge again. The poor judge can't figure out what she's done...I can't figure out what she's done! Piper continues to half pay attention to me and half to the judge throughout the entire course. It was super sloppy, with tons of out-of-position marks off, but the judge passed us. I actually can't believe she scored us as well as she did! The only thing I can think of that threw Piper off was that there may have been a noise as she entered the ring. Maybe she associated it with the judge? It was just an odd run.

I do for sure think we both need practice at trials, specifically with ring nerves and proofing. We are going to do our best to find a few mock trials, or maybe even enter a few trials as exhibition.

So now Piper was only one Q away from her CKC RN, and boy was I determined! I found out there was a trial only an hour from Bracebridge the following weekend, and our old instructor was judging! After confirming we were allowed to compete under her, and confirming we were allowed day-of entries, we arrived at the trial the following weekend.

It was a much smaller trial, and Piper was the third dog on the line. I've noticed our early-in-the-day runs are ALWAYS our best. Anyways, it was a phenomenal run. We came out with a score of 99 - only 1 point off for out of position. My faith was restored after our crummy rally runs the weekend before.

Piper heeling in our 3rd qualifying RN run. She really is awesome :)

We are now in an advanced rally class to learn the new signs and practice working off leash. I hope to join our old friends at the Peterborough Obedience Club for their May trial. I was also hoping to try entering in novice obedience, but I'm not sure I will be confident enough for that. Time will tell!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

OSPCA volunteering

In August I connected with the manager of the Muskoka OSPCA and asked about volunteering to spend time walking, training, and generally socializing the dogs. It took a little while to get organized, but I've gone pretty much every week for the past 6 months.

I've met some pretty awesome dogs, and a few who definitely pulled at my heartstrings. A few others who drove me crazy. I'm certainly learning what I like in a dog and what I don't. While I tend to prefer herding dogs, there have been a few anomalies who have been phenomenal dogs. Good thing I have no room for more animals in my apartment! That will all change when I move to a house with a fenced yard, hopefully in the spring. Kidding...I'll likely hold out for another Aussie, a few years down the road. I do enjoy helping the local dogs, and hopefully teaching them a few core skills, like sit and wait, to help them acclimatize to their adoptive families.

Generally when I get to the shelter, I check in to see if there are any dogs who can't be walked (usually due to recent surgeries), and who is most in need of a walk. Usually these are the dogs who are super high energy, or really nervous and in need of extra socialization. I take them out into the little off-leash pen and let them get their zoomies out, hopefully at the same time learning that I have lots of tasty treats and that they can offer things like sits to get them! Then I pop them on a leash and take them out on the little trail behind the shelter. It only takes about 10 minutes to walk the trail, I wish it was a longer route. Leash walks are sometimes successful and sometimes super frustrating, depending on the dog, their food drive, and their existing leash skills. 

I plan on continuing to volunteer indefinitely, and eventually to help further develop their volunteer program.

This little female was super cute, very friendly and outgoing. Some type of large breed mix. Already adopted, but I always try to spend some time with puppies when they are in :)
Porter was a 3 yr old boxer cross (nudge nudge - doesn't look anything like a boxer to me) who totally stole my heart. He was surrendered by an owner who could not afford the vet bill to remove porcupine quills from his poor pooches face :( He was in the shelter a number of weeks, and was the most gentle dog I've ever met.
Teddy was a 10 year old spaniel...this little old man had enthusiasm and ball drive to spare. If I wasn't in an apartment, I would have taken him home in a heartbeat.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


The last week of July, both my dogs were sick.

We had been in Guelph on the weekend, visiting with Karen (Spark), Brooke (Canyon, Cessna, Rogue, and baby Arizona), and Karol (Winston). Monday morning I took them to a nearby park to run around for a few minutes. There was nobody around, so they had fun chasing each other around. I looked away for only a few minutes, to pick up after them.

Ace is crated (due to his gluttonous tendencies) but Piper was left loose while I was at work. I came home at lunch to let them out for a pee, and found Piper had puked up all her breakfast in my bedroom. Annoying, but sometimes dogs just puke. I didn't really worry about it too much. Cleaned it up and went back to work.

When I came home from work, I found bloody vomit and diahrrea on my front mat. Somethinthing was definitely wrong. I cleaned up and took her outside. She was definitely lethargic. Once the hallway was reasonably clear, I went to get Ace out of his crate, and found his crate full of the same - bloody vomit and diahrrea. I immediately started making vet calls. After a few tries, I found a vet able to see us. When I took them outside, I snagged a stool sample to take with us - we loaded into the car and saw the vet within about 15 minutes.

The vet looked them over, determined that yes they were lethargic, yes blood coming out both ends was not good, and was able to rule out poison. Not able to rule out something communicable, or some kind of poisonous plant. It was very scary. She was kind enough to spend about an hour and a half with us, and went through the options very thoroughly. She gave them an injection to stop the vomiting and sent us home with antibiotics.

It took both dogs nearly a week to recover their energy, and I never really found out what cause the illness. None of the other dogs we were in contact with ever got sick. And because they were both sick within a few hours of each other, I suspected they perhaps ate a plant of some kind at the park that morning. Even though I only had my back turned for a few seconds, and even though Piper NEVER grazes. 

It was a very scary experience for me and my normally healthy dogs.

Kinmount Fair

In early September, I jumped at the chance to be part of an agility exhibit at the Kinmount Fair. I go almost every year, and usually take a dog. It's only a half hour from the cottage, so its nice and close. There are great socialization opportunities (crowds, kids, dogs, horses, midway noises, food on the ground), but I love watching the horse shows and performers as well. This year my mom and friend Laura came with me. Laura had never been to a rural fair before, so it was a very new experience for her.

We were part of a relay class, so our run was timed and paired with a young horseback rider's time. Both dog and horse runs were jumper runs. No real handling practice unfortunately, since it was just a row of jumps, tunnel at the end, and another row of jumps. But it was a chance to get Piper out in a public venue, and to run in an unfenced ring in close proximity to horses and spectators! It was a lot of fun, I'm looking forward to participating in the same event next fall!

Toby, Ace and Piper hanging out on the dock at the cottage

ASCA 2014

On the August 1st long weekend, I packed up Piper, Ace, Percy, and Archibald to head south for the annual ASCA show. We stayed with my friend Karen in Waterloo (about 3 hours from home), and traveled another 1 1/2 hours each way to get back and forth from the show, which was in Niagara Falls. The cats had to come since I was going to be gone more than 2 nights - they would get hungry!

Saturday morning we woke up at the crack of dawn (about 5 am) to get ready. Piper and I needed to get there before 8:30 as we were doing day-of entry. We arrived bleary-eyed, but excited! Piper was entered in altered conformation with Wendy, one Rally Novice run and two Agility novice jumper runs with me! Busy day :)

I love the ASCA show, because I love to see all the Aussies...young, old, working, show, and everything in between. They offer outdoor conformation, rally, obedience, agility, and herding on ducks, sheep, and cows. It's an awesome venue!

Piper did not win anything in conformation, although a few kind competitors came over to tell me how nice she looked. There is a specific gait they need to have in the conformation ring, and I've never taught her to run a certain way. So because she paced, no wins for us.

We did pretty well in Rally, with a score of 186. We lost 10 points because I circled left instead of right at one of the signs...super annoying! But, it was her titling run! First performance title ASCA RN...yay!

Agility was in the afternoon, we were entered in 1 jumpers run, as we didn't have contacts at that point. Runs were only about $10 each, so I treated them as practice, and a good opportunity to get used to the trial environment. The first run was a mess, but live and learn! I think I know now what my mistakes were.

The second day Karen went with me to volunteer at the agility field and socialize her puppy Spark to the trial environment. Since the paperwork had been sorted out the day before, and jumpers wasn't until later in the day, we arrived around 10am. We did two jumpers runs. The first one wasn't great, but wasn't bad either. The second one was pretty great! Only one bar down, so I was actually pretty happy with that. More work to do for sure, but it was heartening.

The trial was over by 2:30, so we made friends with a few collie owners who were competing, and headed to the Lake Erie beach! Piper and Spark had tons of fun playing in the water and with the collies. Everybody headed home happy and super tired.