Monday, July 30, 2012

Disappointment, moving on and true love.

I'm sad. Nationals is this week and I'm not there, nothing went as planned and as much as I've been trying to look at the good and stay positive that of course it could be worse, I just can't help it. I had big plans. Jo and I were going to take a vacation and go to the island with our fams. That plan was shattered when she lost Tag suddenly in January. Months passed and i was hopeful to still go with Gyp and K. Then Gyp came up lame at Regionals and that was that. I miss Agility. Ive started her back this week (and so far so good) and i'm certain if the National Organizing Committee could postpone the event by a month, we would be ready! Gyp is in her prime and I feel I'm missing a window. I feel like the sport is going on without me. K is waaaay past his prime and running him is just amazing anyway you look at it. I wasn't going to just run him and not Gyp. That would be weird ... And I think he had fun at the Specialty :)

I'm not having a pitty party and I'm trying my best not to dwell - there is more to life than agility ... I know this :) but any way you look at it, it's my favourite sport with Gyp. We've done so much. I've tried to fill the void with herding, obedience and cuddling and it's helped. This is the year of transitions and change it seems. I'm learning many lessons.

I could have chosen to run Gyp at nats, but 10 runs after 8 weeks off, to me is alot - and a Gamble (pun intended). And if she came up lame I would be crushed and feel selfish. And I won't run a dog on pain meds to mask soundness - just not my style. So I am going with my gut. And the fact that it's a National - I know I would be pushing her, and she would happily oblige.

I've said it before and I'll say it again ... I love my dog more than I love any sport. And that's just the way it is.

I hope everyone has an awesome National ... Don't take a second for granted.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Can't think of a clever title ... FCR Specialty

Amanda took this photo ... apparently Kaleb has a road named after him near Vancouver.

I haven't posted until today, because I don't know where to start. When I'm overwhelmed I just freeze. But here I go - I'll try my best to sound coherent.

The FCR National was awesome. Like I said in my previous post - it wasn't about getting ribbons, it was about K. We met so many cool people and gorgeous dogs. Conformation is so subjective and that is what is hard about it - JUST the dog is being judged, no amount of training can prepare us for it really - hell, he hadn't had a show lead on in 2 years, and we literally just went in the ring once I put it on. In Sweeps on Thursday, he was not the judge's cup of Tea, and got dumped. Come Friday during the main Specialty classes I was unsure what to expect yet again. He was in a line-up of beautiful Veteran 9-11 boys - these are not your average overweight, limping old dogs - these dogs are all still working - yep, all of them. Mrs. Hutchinson started with the 4th place winner and went up, so you can imagine my stress when there were 3 dogs left standing there - and only one was 1st place. I was ready to leave the ring as I was sure we wouldn't be picked - like the day before ... but low and be-fricken-hold - she picked KALEB!!

 Holy shit he won.

I almost pooped my pants. But instead I cried and gave Kaleb a kiss. What an honour. I've never hugged so many people in my life.

So since he won his class we got to wait around to go in for Best of Breed - he has made the final cut before in previous Specialties - but at 10.5, I was pretty sure he was too old to keep up with the young'ens in the final lineup. What a testament to his breeder, and his lineage in striving to create a TRUE Dual-Purpose dog. 10.5 still in working condition, never really been a day lame in his life.  This breed is one of the few that is the same dog in the field as it is in the show ring. Working ability is VERY important, and the dogs in the BIS ring had MANY MANY titles behind their names. At the Banquet the Judges mentioned this as the key thing that makes this breed unique and special - and breeders take HUGE amounts of pride in this fact.

Oh and then Kristi stopped by with the Collie Nation!!!! Finally Gyp felt at home with some of her kind. It was great to see you Kristi!! (photo by Kristi)

Rex and Gyp the Zombie Collies who were going to eat our brains
... Lou and K the long lost brothers and "The Pug".

OK sorry for the side track ... on to Best in Show!!

Long story short - Best of Breed was a stunning boy named Dash that I drooled over a few times over the weekend, who Kristi also picked out of the crowd in 5 minutes of being at the show :) The judge then had 4 "JAMS" (Judges Awards of Merit) to pass out to dogs with the qualities she was looking for from the final lineup still in the ring. Three were given out and she had one more in hands, and holy crap she walked towards Kaleb and gave us the HUGE rosette!

That is a moment I will never, ever, ever, ever forget. I would have pooped my pants, but I already did that earlier in the day. This time I just smiled and teared up and did a little jig (in my head). The Best in Breed / Best of Opposite / Best of Winners and the 4 JAM dogs got to do a victory lap around the ring - it was so cool. Kaleb had no idea, he just liked the fact he was given free treats and people were clapping for him :)

Stay tuned for the next blog post 
... our downtown Vancouver adventure ...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Meanwhile, In the land of flatcoats

We are in Vancouver / abbotsford area for the next 5 days at the Flat coated Retriever National Specialty. I drove 13 hours to get here, all for the love of a dog. He shows in 3 classes all weekend, yep only 3. Less than what he would run in a weekend of agility - and you'd never catch me driving 13 hours for it - and I love agility. This is different. This is truly as a thank you to kaleb - this is his trip. He is having a great time and looks like a million bucks thanks to Jolene's expert grooming. Sorry Jo, but tomorrow after he's done showing, he's hitting the water :) He got to meet new friends from the US and England that have only known him through photos. I got to meet people and dogs I only knew through photos too. I have renewed my love for the breed ... Oh my there are some gorgeous dogs here. He has earned this trip and I hope it is something we will always remember. I've gotten really sappy since losing Jane ... But you know what, you've gotta cherish every moment even if that means driving 26 hours just to let your dog swim in the ocean again.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Home sweet home ...

Pinch me. I can't believe we live here ... :) awesome neighbors, a JRT on one side, a BC on the other and a sweet pittie across the alley. It's amazing to walk 50' and unclip the leashes and just let them run in the coulees. It feels like home already. I was a little worried this morning unpacking my clothes that is lost all my underwear. But I found them. Catastrophe averted.

Friday, July 13, 2012

the BIG move ...

 today is the day we move to our new house for the dogs ....

our kitchen ... so happy with how it turned out!! OMG we have a pantry!!!! OMG we have no carpet!

and did I mention the double garage ... with a side door to our dog run!!
And did I mention Air Conditioning? And the fact that the coulees are across the street and we have a pond just a 5 minute walk away ...
today I feel so lucky to be moving into this house, i feel like a grown up. it seems like a dream. except for the packing and unpacking part, that is way to real, and it sucks!

speaking of grown ups ... Here is Kaleb and Acey last weekend - kaleb likes to give rides while he swims - hand on tight and he will take you for a tour! below is a link to a video I posted on facebook - not sure if it will work :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

i don't normally rant, but this is indeed, a rant.

I haven't been posted much related to dog training, or my dogs training. My life just is not the same these days. I miss Jane - like I might need help coping it's gotten so bad. I know people see my sadness, and I really do try to be up, but a part of me is missing, and it sucks ass. I miss Agility - but I can't bring myself to train it right now. Gyp is still off - yes she is sound, but I it's only been 5 weeks since she was injured ... I'm pushing her to 10-12 weeks of time off - I love my dog more than I love the sport ... it's true!!! We are moving, I'm overwhelmed, but excited. I put too much of my time into things that waste time and I need to change that. I am self employed - and that means I make my own money ... my time is valuable, and some people just don't get that. I run 3 businesses ... sounds fun right? Mostly it is, I set my hours, some which are crazy, but it is far from easy ... but I wouldn't change it for anything, my dog is lying beside me right now, and one is at my feet, I know I'm lucky.

The rest of my rant starts now ...

I'm pissed off because I get calls and emails from people who are coming from Agility training at other places, and want us to fix their dogs. Hmmm well, perhaps the first time you see a dog alpha rolled or jabbed in the side with a hand continually by the instructor you should walk away ... 8 weeks of class does not mean you are ready to run a course, and no it also doesn't mean your dog knows all equipment. You've done courses with 14 obstacles, after 8 weeks of class, really, no foundation whatso ever?? And you have competition in mind? Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a "just for fun" agility type class - as long as it is designed with fun and safety in mind.  It's sad and disgusting that people pay for classes like this where it is encouraged for the dog to go slow and submit "we are not supposed to let our dogs go fast, we need them to go slow so we have better control" she says. And it is all correction based - seriously. Squashing the dogs spirit and MAKING them do it - is not what any training is about in my opinion. They are living breathing, fun loving creatures - why treat them like anything less?? Isn't this sport supposed to FUN!!!!?? What is even more disgusting is that these people pay more than we charge for classes, and yet we get complaints that our classes have gotten pricy. We have raised prices by $3 a class over the past 3 years. We are half the price of some places in Calgary. I never feel like I'm good enough in what I do - which is a big part of my drive to better at the things I do, how do I justify charged $30 per class, I just can't do it. For the 4 or 5 months we run at the Arena in the winter it is just a break even, and actually, the last month of classes at the barn this year, we lost $200. The cost of classes is not what we make. 30% goes to the tax man, 5% GST, there is wear and tear and equipment maintenance, rental costs, business costs - accountant, insurance which is about $100 month, and it goes on .. I essentially volunteer 30 hours a month during that time. Most of my time is not spent teaching (the fun part), its spent planning, sending emails, going to the bank, doing books - and I get paid hardly anything when it is all said and done. We are a family and our group is amazing, I love people's dogs as if they are my own. I teach, train and play because I LOVE doing it, I am a horrible business person. But I will keep doing it as long as I see brilliant dogs and people emerge and do great things, nothing better than seeing happy dogs and happy people connecting - that is where I get paid, and there is nothing better.

I am far from a perfect trainer, no other dog makes my blood boil like Kaleb can - but I try my hardest to let him be him, he has taught me that, and taught me patience - but what I strive to do is built a relationship of trust and respect on both sides, have fun, and for the love of dog ... let your dog be themselves, squashing their spirit is awful and not what dogs where put on this earth for. They were put here to better us, and we owe that to them.

Rant done.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

photo bomb

Via Flickr:
He are dog-sitting our friends dog Tango ( a rescue from Cuba) for 12 days. She has been an absolute joy to have around. It's bitter sweet. She reminds of so much of Jane - there has a been a few tears of joy ... reminders of how much we miss a fiesty, cuddle bug dog. But at the same time she has helped us heal. She is one special dog, and the timing couldn't better. THis was supposed to be a photo of Gyp ... but come on, how perfect is this?