Sunday, January 31, 2010

Healing and Heeling

Here is Gyppie heeling from last weekends Rally Fun Match, she scored a 98.

It has been 3 weeks since the "knee incident" and let me tell you this has not been easy, this past week being the worst as I have had to come to some brutal realizations: probably not running in yet another Agility seminar this weekend (well I'll do as much as I can), I pulled from an Agility Trial I was REALLY looking forward too, another week of not walking my dogs, I could go on, but it is too depressing. I am an active person: Gym 3-4 times a week, running and walking with the dogs, training with dogs, and it has all been turned upside down. A major part of my life involves running ... more so than I thought it did!!

But on a good note I've been able to train more Obedience because it is all I can do really, well that and feel sorry for myself and mope. We've worked on some proofing in Agility and I can play agility from a distance, but I much prefer to handle and run my dogs, it's what I do, the distance work gets boring, and my guys are pretty good at it anyway, considering that is all we have done for 3 weeks, there is only so much you can work on.

We had another Fun Match this weekend, and the practice is REALLY paying of. Gyp scored 194 in Novice, and a 194 last weekend!!!! She is confident and attentive and most of all she has fun, her sweet smiling face and wagging tail say it all.

K scored a 196.5 in Novice - a warm up for Open. I was confident in the ring this weekend, and once again it showed in K's performance, I had to intervene at the high jump again, as his gawking caused him to almost miss it so we got a bog fat "0'. Though we didn't get a passing score because of it, his marks were great, at would have been a 195 if he had perfect marks on his high jump. He barked a couple times in each out of sight stay. I'll take it, it is progress. My ring etiquette is getting better, I really need real ring experience, like these past 2 weekend matches. I'm a even talking about putting him the ring this spring .... exciting and scary :P

Thursday, January 28, 2010

6 years!

This post is 90% non dog related, so it might bore you to death. just sayin'.

6 years ago I left the Advertising Agency I worked for (for 5 years), to start my own Design business sarahnovakdesign, I jumped in head first and went for it, me, my mac and a second-hand desk. I work at home, I have the best employees who work for cheap (3 dogs), and great guy who does my books :) and I love my freedom, no 9-5 for me thank you very much - sure I work late hours, early hours and weekends when need be, but if I want to play with my dogs, you can't stop me. It's 6 years later and I can still hold my head up above water and I haven't gone bankrupt. From Graphic Design, to Illustration and Photography I am proud to say 6 years! 6 years! 6 years! 6 years! 6 years! 6 years!

I have some big changes and goals this year - work and personal, so I am looking forward to some new adventures.

I had a website done for the first 3 years, but I let it lapse as I got so busy with work and never updated it, and so much of what I do is word of mouth. I let the domain expire and that was that.

Funny thing, I went to purchase a domain again, and guess what someone else owns!! WTF!

So I purchased, and a few months later I finally have my crap together and my new website is almost complete.

I've been using the watermark the past 9 months (and of course my muse Jane is the icon). I've had the front page up for a while ... just wanted to have it done before I told anyone about it. Did I mention that sometimes I'm not a patient person?

Check out the front page if you would like, it'll give a taste of what is to come!

Another one bites the dust.

Poor Jane broke another front tooth this week ... it was hanging by a thread, so the Vet yanked it and she hardly noticed. There is just a wee bit of root, but it should close over and heal just fine. Good news considering putting her under again is a big risk. But, I just can't let her go through life looking like a hillbilly. She deserves so much more.

This bitch, needs bling, and the more diamonds the better.
How embarrassing ... look at her big gummy, grammy gap.

So, when the going gets tough, the tough get GRILLZ ... diamond GRILLZ biatches! Only the best ICE for my girl.

Just like T-pain, Jane sports the ICE.
hmmm what would her rapper name be?

Despite the tooth loss, the Queen B is doing just fine ... as you can clearly see.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

She's a strange animal.

Yes, Gyp is a strange animal.

She LOVES to sit on her dad's lap as you can see, she just loves him in general, really. She licks his hands and sometimes forgets her tongue is stuck out mid-lick ...

She has a freaky-long silly putty tongue, abnormally big feet for her body, and sometimes she looks a little cross-eyed, but who's keeping tabs.

(yes, that tongue is real, freaky, but real)
... such endearling qualities, wouldn't you say?

oh Gyppie, we love every weird, freaky and unproportioned thing about you.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Where's the caviar?

What a great way to spend a Sunday.

SAWHDA hosted Obedience/Rally Fun Mach today, and Jane would like everyone to know that she's still got it at almost 11 years young. She won 2 High in Classes ... a 197 in Novice Obedience (hence the PINK Champagne prize!!!) and a 99 in Advanced Rally ... Jane just loves Obedience, she is happiest doing anything with me (well, for the cookies that I have). It was great to get her out in the ring today. I just loved every second of it. I hope to finsih her Rally Level II title with APDT this year, there is only 2 or 3 trials in Alberta a year which sucks.

Gyp did great for her first time with a 193.5 in Novice Obedience, and in Novice Rally with a 98. I entered her in Advanced just for fun, and wow she was great! She scored an 88 Advanced Rally (10 points off for handler error, i moved my feet calling her to front - duh). Her heeling and attention was really good, amazing what practicing does ...

K-man did great too, he was pumped in Open Obedience, I was so pleased with his effort and heeling and attention. We NQ'd though (gawking on the way back over the high jump - and missed it LOL), his stays were good - only a couple barks in each (it is improvement), his score would have been 190. He also earned a 96 in Advanced Rally. I am more confident with him the ring now, and I was not nervous at all today, and it showed, as he was happy ... he was maybe a little too high - he was vibrating almost the whole time ... but I'll take it!

It was a great day to spend with friends and hangout in between runs, and thanks to SAWHDA for the awesome prizes and well organized event!

- - - - -

We have lots to work on ... I have been stepping into my dogs on halts, without even realizing it most of the time, I got some good hints to help with MY handling this way.

With K, I STILL need to work distractions intensely in all situations, so Gawky McGee pays attention to me and not the adoring crowd ... especially over the high jump - where he will gawk and forget what he is doing - missing the jump on the way back!! At this point, it is our weakest exercise in Open.

I also REALLY REALLY need to brush up on ring etiquette and rules, more practice ... more practice ...

thanks to Maureen for the great pics!!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

it's the little things...

Today was the first day in 13 days I've been able to take the dogs for a run, I still can't take them for leash walks as I have to be in charge of what my leg is doing at all times, and with the slippery roads and sidewalks, it would be too risky for a slip.

Pete has been running and walking them daily ... it looks something like this ...

He has been great about getting the guys out for their regular exercise. He has been doing it by himself for almost 2 weeks, and probably another week to go.

It's been the first time I've taken my camera out in about the same period of time ...

Gyppie is thrilled too! Especially since she left Kaleb in the dust.
"HAHA Sucker" woofs Gyppie

Kaleb was excited too, "walks with mama bring the clicky thing and then we get treats."

then there is Jane ... her head is usually in a hole, looking for critters
"Here mousy, mousy, come out, come out where ever you are"

Well my weekend just got better, it's the simple, little things, you know? aaahhhh, I feel much better now :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

if you go out in the woods today ....

If you go out in the woods today
You're sure of a big surprise.

If you go out in the woods today
You'd better go in disguise.

If you go out in the woods today,
You'd better not go alone.

It's lovely out in the woods today,
But safer to stay at home.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


So the interesting thing about Statistics is you can make them look how you want, depending on the information you want to release with the final result.

The 2009 Stats from AAC are pretty much final now and ...

Gyp ended her year with 46 Qs. Gyp only ran 64 runs at trials in 2009, for a Q rate of 71% - pretty good in my mind. Those 64 runs are made up of 7 full trials, and three one day trials. In the whole scheme of things, that is not alot of trialing. Would it seem like a lot if I said she had 300 runs to get those 46 Qs, that would be a pretty low Q rate wouldn't it.

What the AAC site does not show is the actual Q rate of a dog. There are dogs on the AAC site that have over 200 Q's in one year - we only ran 64!!!! Sort of hard to get 100 Qs when you only have entered in 64 classes. Gyp is around the 23rd Border Collie in AAC based on the "Q" stat, again is that good or not? There are more than 200 Border Collies listed on the page.

Kaleb had a wonderful year too!! He ran 69 runs, and ended with 49 Qs!!!! His Q rate is 73%. With that he is also the #1 Flat-coated Retriever in Canada for the 3rd year in a row!!! Go K-man!! There are 5 FCR's listed on the page, but again, if you earn fewer than 9 Q's AAC doesn't list you on the Stats page, so I do more there are a few more than 5 FCRs competing!

What I was most proud of in '09 was both dogs winning their Regional Divisions and placing so well at Nationals too, again the stats don't show that :)

To me, this confirms, while the all-mighty Q is important as a measure of sort of success as it shows on the stats page, and you need Qs to move up and get titles. I think setting your own personal best, and individual goals are still more important - Q or no Q ... and that is what statistics don't show.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Where's Gyppie?

look closer .... she is there .... unlike Waldo, she is not wearing a red striped hat or glasses.

getting closer ...

there isn't a whole lot that brightens my day more than a Gyppie Hug...

Friday, January 15, 2010

I would like to thank the Academy!

Thanks for who ever nominated me for a "Brodie" for "Best Pet Photography Blog", I had never seen this site until today!

I'm in some serious good company, how cool is that?

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Here is a little montage of 4 of Gyp's runs from the weekend. Before the "KNEE incident that silenced a Nation" - or at least silenced an Arena (yes I can laugh about it now).

The first run is Challenge - we had an off course tire on the way to the dogwalk, but she still managed to pull off the fastest time of the event. The other 3 runs are 3 Masters Standards she Q'd in (I think 2 1sts and a 2nd) I was super happy with her efforts - always 110%, and I was happy to see improvement in our contacts so quickly too. You see, she wasn't the problem ... it was me, now I have backed off, and let her do her job, trust my training, and the creeping is less and her speed had increased, go figure. If I didn't have Amanda and others in my group riding my ass about it, I shudder to think how it might look.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Limp for Joy!

Well I am learning to look on the brightside with my knee injury ... I can walk ... I wish I could run, but hey, I don't need my crutches. The knee is still swollen, but I can bend it now about 90 degrees, whereas 2 days ago it as 45 degrees. My other leg bends 120 just to give you an idea. It still throbs and aches and walking up and down stairs is FUN!

I got my knees X-rayed today and I was fitted for 2 knee braces today and custom foot Orthotics for my near non-existent arches. My current (old) knee brace was so worn and stretched and the support was compressed, and compared to the new shiny one I have now and the actual piece needed to keep my knee from going right, well lets just say, it was no longer secure to the actually brace and flopping around like my knee was on Sunday ... I had no idea, and well that is a big, costly and painful realization.

The custom arch supports were made from my foot and will help keep my knees aligned, as well as my non-existent right ankle ligament from giving away too and rolling as it sometimes does, which then causes the knee to be what hold me up - and if that gives way, well we all know what happens .... (previous ankle sprains did that ligament in, I had no idea either!)

I talked to my trainer and I have a few things I can do in the meantime, until the swelling goes down, but I can't even begin physio until the swelling is 100% gone, which could be even a couple more weeks ... as it is still pretty much what it was 3 days ago.

I'll have the results of the X-rays in a couple days, and the MRI ... well I have my appointment booked ... for June. I guess my injury isn't life threatening, just F'ING annoying!

The day I can walk my dogs again, will be an exciting one. The day I can run, let's just say I might not stop, you know like when Forrest Gump ran across the country when he realized he could run.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Trial and Error

First Agility Trial of the Year with AWESOME courses this weekend. Go Dog Go had 11 dogs entered! More on that in another post (OMG did they seriously rock)

My mindset going in, was push myself, trust my dogs and go for it. I didn't have specific Q goals or need any runs for any titles. We are working on a couple of biggies, but I am not running with that top of mind, as it will come when it comes, and we are getting closer. Videos will be posted soon.

Gyppie girl.
She Q'd in Gamblers with 48 points in her opening and aced the end gamble.

The Challenge course is what kept my adrenaline going all weekend. She was so responsive and I like to think I handled her the best I could (until I threadled her into a jump I shouldn't have), BUT even with that extra added obstacle on the way to the dogwalk, she still have the fastest time of all the dogs entered. What a rush, we didn't Q, but it was one of the best runs all weekend, and a GREAT way to start the year.

She was ON all weekend. She got ALL 3 of her Standard Q's and had the 2nd, 3rd and 3rd fastest times of ALL the Masters dogs, all within 1/2 a second of the fastest. Her contacts were the best yet, and those weave entries, wowsers, and I have never felt so confident in my handling with her - I am now more confident in handling her than Kaleb, how scary is that?? (She is now at 23 Masters Standards ... 2 more until her SILVER!!)

Jumpers was a good course, we were doing great until the second last obstacle when I stepped in her path and pulled her off the jump so we got a refusal, but it too felt smooth and effortless ... until that point :)

Steeplechase was good, great course, and a Q.

The K-man
He ran a GREAT gamble, got his 12 weave mini, ended with 39 points, and aced the end gamble for a Q!

I had him entered in 2 Standards and he placed 3rd/13 in both and Qd!! He was looking a little stiff in the Weave poles Saturday, but Sunday he was limber and flexible like normal. I am cutting back his weaving at trials, and trying to limit it to 2 sets a day.

I got him a little too over the top for jumpers ... We played with a new tug toy and I did not getting enough focus before the ring - just got him high! he was a maniac!! Took 2 off courses and just kept running!! He had a blast and I didn't mind the enthusiasm ... I just wish it was directed in my direction!

He also brought home a Q in Steeplechase, a really good run for him, he loves those wide open spaces!

Last run of the weekend ... Gyppie and I were having an awesome Snooker Run, and we didn't even get tweeted ... the last thing I remember is hitting the ground, the next 5 minutes were a blur as I was in shock, i still actually don't even remember walking out of the arena very vividly.

Have you ever heard what a knee cap sound like when it comes out of it's socket, goes right, while the leg goes left, and the person hits the ground like a tonne of bricks? Let's just say it is really loud, and hurts like a son-of-a-bitch!!

I just posted on my blog, how happy I am with my fitness and my knee, and the progress I have made. I am really mad, sad, depressed, defeated and did I mention mad? I go through life worrying about my dogs every second of the day, and it never even occurred to me, that it could be ME who might not be able to run. fuck.

Luckily I have great friends and family ... thanks to everyone who helped out with me and my dogs yesterday. My mom brought me some crutches today, 'cause the cane was not working :), a great friend pulled some strings and I have a Dr's appt. at 4:45 today with a great Doctor. I will know more tonight. How amazing is that?

p.s. Gyp is freaked out by the crutches. Surprised?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chicken Sh*t.

That is me. Chicken Sh*t.

I consider my self a pretty decent trainer, I can train a dog, I can train a person to train their dog, and I've trained 3 very different creatures of my own. I've had success with my own dogs, in many different venues. I enjoy learning and training, staying sharp on skills and methods, all as much as I like teaching. I ilke to think I've been a part of others succeed with their own dogs ... OK, so I can't help it, I take some ownership in students dogs, and I love them like they are my own, and if any of them wanted me to take one of them off their hands, I WOULD!! :) and I enjoy the people attached to the leash too, many are like family.

I am by all accounts a determined, free-thinking, analytical, focused, love-to-have-fun, driven kind of person ... well that's what I've been told. Wait a minute, I'm a Border Collie??

I train, trial and compete because I love having fun with my dogs, and I crave that connection, and I am only trying for a personal best when I'm competing... I don't go in the ring thinking I need to beat everyone else, all that does is take the focus off of MY DOG and ME, and OUR TIME together, it is about US. And if I am going to put time and effort into something, why not do it the best I can?

So back to the Chicken Sh*t part ...

So why can't I get up the guts to put Kaleb in the Obedience Ring for Open? I am not a Border Collie when it comes to the Obedience Ring ... I am more of a timid, scared little creature hiding in a dark alley.

I give people "the TALK" in the Agility ring all the time, "Trust your training, be confident, your dogs success is in your hands, turn your stress into excitement, trial like you train, don't let your dog down, AND breathe!!!" I overcame all of this in Agility.

Besides the fact that I am not as dedicated to competitive Obedience than other dog sports... I actually prefer Rally if given the chance ... "Obedience" requires a totally different mind set, and set of skills to focus - for both the handler AND dog. I DO NOT get the same adrenaline rush I do as when I step in the Agility ring. I like to run FAST, TALK TO MY DOG, and there is NOTHING like that connection at FULL SPEED!!!!

Did I mention I am a Border Collie?

As part of the confidence issue, it stems from Kaleb f'ing off in the ring at 2 years old, he spooked during off leash heeling, at a poodle and an umbrella, and took off running around the show grounds like a freaking fool and nobody could catch him. I was in tears and shaken, and it took me 3 years to put him back in the ring for Obedience. BUT, when we did ... at 5 years old ... he got 3 High in Classes in a row. He also got a High In Trial in APDT Rally, with a perfect 210 score. So he can do the work, when together WE are in the right mind set, which is in turn MY responsibility. But when he feels my stress, it runs right to him, and he gets self-conscious too, and we both want to go back to that dark alley and not be seen. So I KNOW I HAVE to be in the right mind set if we are ever going to succeed, for HIS sake.

He is ready for the ring, he's done Fun Matches and done really well, pretty good scores to boot.

So the million dollar question is ... will it happen? Will I be the one to take him in the ring, or will I faint upon entering the ring because I haven't taken a decent breath in 15 minutes.

Well, if all else fails ... I've always got Amanda on stand-by :) or maybe there are some other takers?? LOL

Monday, January 4, 2010

52 Weeks down, 52 weeks to go.

Well Gyp's 52 Weeks Project on FLICKR is over for 2009, and what a cool experience it was. I've made a hardcover book on blurb documenting the year, as well there is a photo of the 3 dogs together, taken each month.

You can click on the icon above to see a preview of the book - the FULL SCREEN view is best :)

We are on to 2010, which means a new year and new dog ... oh, who, oh who will it be ...

Friday, January 1, 2010

A new decade ahead ...

2009 was an amazing year. I thought 2008 was amazing and that I couldn't top it. But we did. And I have big hopes for 2010 too. I have some big plans/dreams for 2010 that are "hopefully" going to make a big impact on my life. And there has even been talk of a P U P P Y ... and not just on my side :) but that will be in 2011 ... 2010, a new decade ... I am so excited for this next chapter in my life.

The top of list is Health.
I have what are considered 2 older "geriatric" dogs (almost 8 and 11), and one 5 year old who works her heart out. They all have different needs and demands to their bodies. So we will be making some more trips to Physio (hopefully not so many Vet visits) as a preventative and hopefully I will learn even more to keep them on their A-games. My main objective this year (beyond trialing) is too keep them fit and healthy, anything beyond that is icing on the cake. I've been hitting the gym pretty regularly 3 days a week over the last year too, and my knee (knock on wood) is great, and I am much stronger, so I will keep doing what I am doing that way too as I can see the results of all that sweat.

2009 Highlights ... and looking ahead to 2010

• I was lucky to go to 3 Outreach sessions with Kim Collins, I have learned so much from her over the past 2.5 years. And I look forward to 2010 with her too! Talk about being pushed to your limit!
• and Terry ... 2 great seminars, he always pushes you to your best and has a great eye for timing, and each individual dog and their potential. I am looking forward to having him back in Lethbridge next month. This will be my 5th year attending his seminars! To this day I credit him with so much of how K and I became the team we are, and Gyp too for that matter.
• My handling skills are getting better and with some friendly reminders from my training buddies, my bad habits are diminishing ... mostly. I am so lucky to have such a great group of friends and training buddies, I couldn't imagine where I would be without them and my mentors ... really it is a scary thought.

We had some really memorable runs this year, she often has some of the fastest course times, and I have really learned to go for it with her, she is such a fun dog. She earned her BRONZE Award of Merit early on as well as a few other single BRONZE titles and her VBA (Versatility Bronze Award).

One of our biggest highlights was winning her Regional Division running 6/6 and again was the Regional Steeplechase Champion, and then onto Ottawa for Nationals where despite being worried outside the rings ... by porta-pottie doors slamming, cans being thrown in the garbage bins, and the scary guys driving the golf carts, she put on her game face when it mattered. She finished 3rd overall and 2nd in the Steeplechase finals. My little girlie is all heart.

I look forward to what 2010 will bring, she is very close to earning her SILVER Award of Merit (25 masters Standards, 50 Masters Games), so I hope to do that in the next couple of trials, we just need a few more standard runs, but I will just let it happen and not worry about getting there.

I hope to get her on sheep when I can, as that has been a great confidence builder and we can actually do more than just chase sheep around the round pen now. If I get my crap together, maybe I'l even get her CKC # after talking about it for last year ... but it is such a long process. But she has some talent as an obedience dog, and I would love to get her in the ring ... maybe just APDT rally if the CKC thing doesn't happen.

I play my cards right this year, one of my dreams will come true ... running on the grass at Spruce Meadows. Granted, the dream was to be on a horse, but running Gyp (and K) on the green, would be even better. 9 years ago I was lucky enough to walk the course at the Masters Tourny with the best riders in the world, and I even got to meet my hero Ian Millar way back when. (I'll have to find the photo)

The man, the legend :) ... the goofball. Kaleb ran as a Veteran this year and what a year my boy had. I still look up at my bookcase at the trophy and say to myself "I still can't believe Kaleb won his Regional Division", that was probably one of the biggest, if not the biggest moment for us this year - maybe ever. Did I mention "I still can't believe Kaleb won his Regional Division"? He placed 7th at Nationals in a class of 53 still boggles my noggin'.

Kaleb also had an amazing showing at the Flat-coated Retriever Society National Specialty in Nanaimo. He WON his Veteran Dog 7-9 Class, in a class full of wonderful well known dogs. That moment is second to him winning his regional division, I honestly can't believe it. Thinking back, Kaleb has shown at 3 National Specialties, and he has won every regular class he has shown in! Who Knew? He also placed 2nd in the Gun Dog class, finished his Rally title, ran 7/8 in Agility and earned his Novice Select titles (I dropped him to 20" and he had to start at the beginning again).

He also earned his Silver Award of Merit (25 Masters Standards and 50 Masters Games) he got his Steeplechase Title and a few other Bronze Titles too. He is close to earning his Gold Award of Merit, and I would be so thrilled if we get that (50 Masters Standards and 100 Masters Games), he always tries his hardest for me, and he so deserves to get that.

I would also like to get him in the Rally ring some more, hopefully finish his Junior Hunter title ... and dare I say the enter the Open Ring? Will it happen? Am I sick just typing that? Yep. I look forward to another great year with my boy, hard to believe he will be 8 soon.

A bittersweet year for my Janey. I she ran in only 3 trials and only had 9 runs. Amanda organized a wonderful and teary eyed retirement for her, which couldn't have come at a better time. She has had some health issues with her heart and gall bladder (of all things), that now limit her exertion especially in extreme hot or cold weather, and she is on a special diet and medication long-term. I have so many wonderful memories with her and every time I look at the book that was made for her I cry. We still putter around a bit in Agility as she still really enjoys it, who knows you might see her run a an FEO Starters Jumpers course some day :)

Here's to health, happiness and a some awesome clean runs in 2010 everyone! Thanks for reading :)