Friday, August 23, 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Her beauty shines ...

During AAC Nationals, there was a fundraiser for a breed club, for a custom portrait by well know UK artist Gary Tymon ... 

Well, we won it and Gyp's portrait is done. 
It's perfect! It's her ... it's beautiful. The expression, that little pink tongue and those trademark ears!!

Check out Gary's work:

Saturday, August 10, 2013

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

I am going through the most difficult time in life - my 16 year relationship is ending - everything I knew in my life is just not the same. Just like that.

I've experienced more loss in the last 18 months than I ever imagined. First Jane - the first time I ever really grieved, one year later Kaleb - unexpectedly and now the loss of a relationship I was hoping to be in forever. But if I've learned anything in the past 2 years that is to expect the unexpected. And it really is true - what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

 Over the last 6 weeks Gyp wouldn't work for me at the field consistently. And with Nationals coming up - that's not good. The only time I could get her to work was if her besties were there barking and being excited. Otherwise - nope - she would get skiddish, run away, or slink to the ground. And at home, well she would run away from the jumps. Seriously. It was not physical, it was mental. She was completely freaked out by my stress, I've been stressed before, but this was different my life is nothing like it was 2 months ago. Kathy Keats was here at the end of June and she gave me one of the best pep talks and chunks of advice I've ever had in my life. It worked over the last month I've proved to myself that YES I can be there for my dog, and YES this is that important to me. We ran at a small one day trial. She rocked, because I did. I took a few days to go train at my friends place out of town to prep for Nationals - and it was awesome. Nothing bugged us and we were in sync. it felt great, you know that connection, you just can't explain?

I went into Nationals last weekend calm, happy and excited. A weekend with my best girl, good friends was very welcome. While there is the stress and excitement of competing there - it was refreshing to focus on something I loved, rather than just being stressed out because of my "real life". My focus was never been sharper. We were a team all weekend. It's amazing how much mental strength I have when I put my mind to it. I was bound and determined not to let her down. It's helping me heal knowing that I can focus and persevere despite my circumstances. We freaking did it. She had the most amazing weekend - and I would not have been able to live with myself if I had let her down, because I couldn't get my shit together. I have THE MOST AMAZING friends, family and support group ever. And this Nationals - I ran it for Kaleb. I know we made him proud!!!

So Gyp ran a perfect Nationals - 6 clean runs. 3 1sts, 2 2nds (1 point behind in each gamble), and a 3rd. Didn't miss a beat. We took risks, we ran our freaking hearts out, and it payed off. I am so proud and I swear, she tried even harder for me this weekend because she knew I was trying that much harder for her. Have I mentioned how much I love my little dog? Gyp had a great 2013 ... She is the 2013 10"DD Vet National Champion, won her 4th Regional Championship, and received the St John Therapy Dog Outstanding Volunteer Award and a National Win ...


Thursday, August 1, 2013

It's simple, really.

Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game. - Michael Jordan
Nationals here we come. We are going to enjoy every single second.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Mr Fitz says we are taking a little break so we can focus on some other things ... We will see you in a few weeks hopefully!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Awesome, just freaking awesome.

5 days away, 2400 km, 3 days of agility camp, 8 bottles of wine, a bottle of baileys, great friends, amazing dogs. This trip was one of those times in your life that can change you. I'm so proud of Fitz and so inspired to be a better trainer. He was actually the only puppy at camp - the next youngest dog was 15 months old. He turned 5 months old 10 days ago. Some things were obviously modified for him (it was all foundation work anyway), but the foundation work I've been working so hard had is paying off. I could lead out 15' throw a toy and have him in a stay then send him over the bumps, he is so operant and keen and he excelled at the body awareness stuff. I learned more about controlling his impulses as bettering my own mechanics in training. I have 3 "tasks" given to me by Lynda Orton-Hill for the next 3 weeks and I hope I'm successful with them. I have a whole new set of tools in the handling department that I can't wait to share with my students! Awesome!! He had some bratty puppy moments of course (AKA Fitsz), but it wasn't until the second day that people knew even how young he was. He was able to be crated in the tent and not in the car - he was mostly quiet!!!! Debbie and Sophie who attended also did brilliantly and their course of their journeys have been change forever.

More photos coming soon - here are some Instagram ones :) we are still 8 hours from home and while Debbie drives I thought I'd take the time to post, since I will be too damn tired to do anything when I get home!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Road trippin

Road trip!!! We are off to Pawsitive Steps Agility Camp - driving 12 hours one way for agility - no problem! Friends, dogs and wine. Should be awesome!!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

My name is....

Every dog needs a theme song. Every dog has a celebrity doppleganger. It's just the way it is. Clearly, Gyp is Faith Hill. And well Mr. Fitz, AKA Motherf*cker Jones is living up to his ... Could the real Slim Shady, please stand up?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Happy Birthday Canada!

2 paws up for Canada Day!

Monday, June 24, 2013

fun is an understatement.

Success is gauged by the holes in my shirts. Fitz's first Puppy Seminar was a great success. As well, his t-shirt tug is covered in blood (mr. teething pants), holes and is missing a few pieces. We traveled 3 hours to have a session with Dante Camacho- I attended a seminar of his with Gyp last year. Another friend/student went up and she did AMAZING too! He is a great trainer, upbeat and informative. He really presents well and gives many ideas. This seminar was for puppies 6months and older. Fitz isn't quite 5 months - but the little pup held his own. He was the youngest one there. I wasn't sure what to expect as far as where he needed to be skill level, but thankfully alot of what we've been working on (thanks to the wonderful Loretta) was covered, as well as some new approaches and some new skills too! We covered so much in one day - lots of lecture and lots of small increments of work - it was very well thought out. I wasn't sure how he would be (focus wise) training in a new place with a whole new set of high drive dogs - he was VERY stimulated. But the work we've been doing payed off as his drive and focus was where it is everywhere else - we try to get out and train EVERYWHERE. He is a very adaptable little fella. The puppy I had that would sit and watch the world go by calmly now wants a part of everything he sees. And if he can't get it - he, you know, throws a FIT. I now have to work harder for this focus - oh boy. He did great though, and I was able to get him to focus on me, and sit, down, stand nose touches etc - he was able to think with it all going around. I was VERY VERY proud of my little pup. He has turned on to the noises of Agility - tunnels, teeters etc. he loses his shiznit. OMG he threw a couple FITS(Z) of epic proportions - all I can do is laugh. Soooo, Mt. Fitz got benched outside after the kibble for being quiet in the crate for the morning session no longer had an effect in the PM session. I saw a intensity I haven't seen before, and it didn't fade. He was REALLY turned on by the excitement - he knows what it means now - but the nice thing is re redirects it back to ME. He worked off leash with 4-5 other pups around and stayed with me the whole time. He did everything that was set out for him with the gusto and enthusiasm I have been striving to create. Well we are on our way. I've never had a dog quite like this little MoFo ... I am so excited for what's to come!!!

He made a few first impressions ...
"Wow he comes by his name honestly, doesn't he?"
"Be carfeul what you name your dog!"
"Well, you certainly are the right person for him." (I think I heard this 3 times...)
"Wow, that's alot of dog".

This is pup is so much fun, and I know I'm in for a WILD RIDE!!!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

And so he grows

19 weeks and looking so adult already. Loving this pup oh so much. Super fun training buddy and he knows so much already. Like his mom and dad he's a powerhouse. He's standing at 13" right now. So I'm guessing he will be 14"-14.5" - there are lots of tall dogs in his lineage. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

It's official.

He's now a real terrier. Gyp had to show him the ropes, but he caught on quick.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

4th times a charm!

On the Podium!!! Gyp was also Awarded Top Rescue dog, and received a whole big basket of LOOT!
Onwards to Nationals!!!
What a weekend. Gyp is now running as a Veteran and as always had a great caliber of competition in our group. Gyp 5/6 over the weekend, she did everything I asked of her and gave me her all. She now has won her 4th Regional Championship - what a girl. I love running her, we have so much fun together. It was funny, Friday we weren't in the Warm-up trial, so we just hungout, went for walks and visited. Saturday morning, she KNEW it was game day, she came out of the vehicle onto the field, guns a blazing - barking, spinning and super excited. She was obviously picking up on my excitement. Fitz had a great time too! He met many new friends - big, small and inbetween. We working on lots of focus at the rings, tugging, heeling and LOTS of recalls. He also enjoyed running in the field with his pals.

I had only 2 people ask me how "my dogs" were running, and I had to break it to them that Kaleb had passed away. One poor woman burst into tears. I had to console her :) I got a few nice hugs and nice words about the boy. I really enjoyed every moment this weekend. Thank doG I had Fitz with me, he sure kept things light.  Go! Dog! Go! had 12 dogs qualify for Nationals - I'm not gonna lie, I had tears each day for everyone successes - big or small, there were many hugs and high fives all weekend!! We really do have the most amazing supportive group. And we kept up with tradition by being the loudest and the banquet. We are from the south - we know how to have a good time!
A quick visit to see my Nanny on the way to Edmonton. It broke up the 6 hour drive,
and she was SOOOOO surprised to see us!
Sleeping dog Totem pole.
my 2 ridiculous dogs.
Who turned out the lights?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I'm ready. Here we come.

Today has been tough. Packing for AAC Regionals. I was expecting and hoping to run kaleb. Until now I've left all his toys and agility leash in my trial bag. Today I took them out and hung them up in my garage, another step... But man that was hard. No more "slimebag" and chuckit, they've retired :) . I've cried a few times today. I've been to 2 trials now since k passed, and I've been Ok, but this just hurts, it's different - he always ran great at the big events, I loved running him at them. It's only been 6 weeks, and the heavy gut feeling is back. I just really miss the bugger - all if those firsts without him, you know. I have to think of the weekend ahead and the dogs I have, and enjoy every single moment. Gyp and I are gelling and everytime in the ring with her is something I've always cherished, we are a team, we can almost read eachothers thoughts. I'm bringing Fitz with me for some comic relief, distraction and I'm sure he will have a blast being his charming self. I do better at most things in life when I'm kept busy. I got a really nice email today from a person I hold in very high regard "you will have 2 angels on your shoulder this weekend,  no tears, just smiles as they guide you". I'm looking forward to a fun weekend with friends, great dogs (many who are running at Regionals for yhe first time!!!) and a ton of laughs ;) that's what it's all about! 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

It's like that, and that's the way it is.

It's been a busy few weeks. Fitz is 17 weeks today. And how is it that we've had him for 8 weeks already!!?? Its seems like just yesterday he joined our family, but at the same time like he's been here forever. We are so madly in love with him. We've never had such a cuddly lovey dog. As I'm writing this he's fast asleep curled up on my lap.

He is not without his challenges, we've had a few standoffs, a few don't wanna-don't-hafta moments, more blood drawn on my hands, arms and legs than a battle with a tank full of piranhas. I'm doing my best to shape his persistence, won't take no for an answer attitude, and Terrier-ness into a good work ethic. Because Mr. Fitz "It's like that, and that's the way it is." I'm very happy with him and we have SOOOOOO much fun together. Everything is his choice - and well, sometimes it takes him a little longer to figure out what reaps the rewards, by limiting his access to self-reinforce he's making MANY good choices. The door on the bathroom is now closed as the toilet paper roll is just soooo fun! This week I upped the anty in transferring value back and forth from food and toys. Until now he has picked tugging over food most of the time, even with high value food. This week I started using chicken necks as his treat for this instance (his PRECIOUS!! His fav thing right now) - and oh boy! He had to work hard. I had been videoing tons of footage, and I think it was 2 minutes of DWDH (don't wanna-don't-hafta) - screw the tug I want the chicken!!!! Then FINALLY some sincere tugging with the chicken necks in my other hand. Each time we have a breakthrough, the next time we tackle it - it takes way less time to work through, and he attacks the task with more intensity. It was the most exhausting 3 minutes of my week. But one of the most exciting moments too. I loved that he persisted for that long. Did I mention how much fun we are having together?

Here is the condensed version of what we are currently working on: TONS of recalls, running flat-out, lots of chase mama around the house, hide and seek,  being quiet in the crate (he sleeps to and from training now YAY!!!), impulse control games, learning to RUN the plank, learning to RUN the tunnel, progressing with handtouches, advancing body awareness skills, watch me, adding distance/duration/distractions to sits/downs, backing up, releasing the toy, trimming nails without a fuss, looking at teeth without throwing a FIT, shaping and building value for a jump, shaping silly things to keep us both busy in the evening, heeling, retrieving, circle work and shadowhandling ... my homework is keeping me busy :)

Here is a fun video from today ... Fitz retrieving Bumpers with Bird Wings at Blazingstar (say that three times fast) This was the first time I was able to see some the payoff with all of our recall, distraction and retrieving practice - and really put it to use. It was the first time he'd seen a person throw for him, and the first time at any distance with an actual wing (off of a string attached to me) - he retrieved them like a little pro - didn't drop them, didn't tear the wings apart, and didn't bugger off. I was cautiously optimistic as to how he'd do ....

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lessons in love and friendship

Fitz at 16 weeks old
This past weekend was another Agility Trial, plus I took a mini road trip after and ended up being gone 4 nights with the dogs. It was Fitz's first time in a hotel, and first big road trip (14 hours round trip) and he was awesome. He settles into whatever you want him to do with ease and like he's done it a million times before. Gyp is a great role model as she is calm and confident (in most places) and can adapt easily to her given environment, and that is rubbing of on Fitz.

Gyp ran great 5/5 we are in a good groove right now, and with Regionals next weekend, I hope we can keep that momentum. Little 6 year old Aislyn ran her too this weekend, and they earned another Jumpers Q and are now in Advanced if you can believe it. These 2 have a very special bond, and it's so sweet seeing them learn and grow together. Gyp is oh so patient, and never gets to far ahead of Acey. Gyp is a great teacher for her.  Aislyn took lots of responsibility of her over the weekend and they both enjoyed that extra special time walking, warming up and playing. What a great little friendship they have ... Here is a video of them together. 

WARNING: You might pass out from cuteness overload. You've been warned.

Onwards from Medicine Hat, Liz and I heading 5 hours east to visit Prairielight - Kaleb's Breeders. They have 2 litters (10 and 2) and we went to help assess the pups and get some stacked photos of them as they leave for their new homes shortly. I'm not gonna lie, I was most excited about seeing Ylva, Kaleb's sister. As soon as I saw her I cried, her mannerisms and that crazy zest for life. I spent a bit of time just with her a couple times that day, and it was good for my soul. I found out that of Kaleb's 9 other littermates, he was the first to go. At 11 years old that is amazing, but at the same time makes me so sad. He lived a grand life and I am so grateful for that but I miss him so much.  I feel I needed to take this trip to help with my healing process, and it helped. As hard as it was, I left there happy and feeling joy. But man, it makes me miss Kaleb. I had a good chat with his breeders and what a crazy boy he was, and how Hans like his flat-coats just on this side of crazy too. We got to take in some training, and Fitz had his first exposure to a Starter Pistol and the excitement that thrown bumpers from the sky bring. He loved it and even retrieved a couple himself (seriously) :)

Fitz learning about Field Training
Watching and learning
Kaleb's sister, Ylva
Oh how I miss this face. They are so similar.
Cute puppy overload!
Nice little female :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fitz 'n Gyp

Awwww Mr. Fitz, 15.5 weeks, you look so sweet and innocent ....
Mr. Fitz - 15.5 weeks, originally uploaded by sarah ....

Flying Fitz!
Flying Fitz ... he's generally in this position ...
that tickles! is that all you've got?
that tickles!! is that all you've got, Gyp?
Leggoo my legggooo!
Leggooo my leggoo!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Chapter 1: New beginnings new adventures.

This past weekend was a big memorable weekend of firsts, I've opened the book for a new Chapter in my life to begin ... and so it starts. It was the first time back in the ring with Gyp since losing Kaleb. It was Fitz's first time tagging along at the busy Agility environment. It was my best friends first time in the ring with her boy, her 6 year old daughter ran Gyp for the first time at an outdoor trial - they have been training for the last month and are really making great strides - they earned their first Jumpers Q. It was the first time traveling with this "New Crew" ... it's OK, I'm OK with it. It's different, and it's just the beginning.
BFFs Acey and Gyp - they earned their first Jumpers Q!

So you know how people say "they are always with you in spirit" apparently that is true ... and seriously Gyp ... you weaved a numbered cone a full 360? And then you circled me twice herding me over a jump? I am pretty sure that is the first time a crowd of spectators ever laughed at US on course and twice in one day. It was totally fantastic. People commented "that was a K-man move", and it sure was. He was there to remind me to let go, and have some fun. We got our poop in a group on day 2 and we ran 3/3 and were back to clicking as we always do. The first day was hard for me to really focus. I cried a couple times for K over the weekend, and it was nice that people had nice memories about the boy. I know Gyp misses her sidekick too. I walked a course thinking about how I would handle for him. And seeing the end gamble, I knew it was one he would get. I'm sure that will happen for a while. It makes me smile and gives me a gut ache at the same time. My challenge is to remained focus on Gyp, and love every minute of it as I always have with her.
Fitz enjoying his first agility trial
But having Mr Fitz at the trial kept me just as busy as Kaleb would ... he was always my most high maintenance dog! It's funny, people that met Fitz asked if he reminded me of Jane - and really besides that he is white and recognized as a JRT by breed, that's pretty much where it ends. Jane was so driven by fear, she only had eyes for me, I always had my guard up around her, she couldn't be trusted, and she was fiercely loyal to me. With all of that she was my greatest teacher. Then there is Fitz. He is the picture of confidence, friendly with everyone, funny, silly, full of himself and then some, driven to go, and he does not take NO for answer. So yes, it's true, he is more like Kaleb :) This puppy is perfect for us.We had no idea when we name him Fitz - just how much that would really mean!!

He is 15 weeks old now, and wow we have learned so much together already!  We are registered for 2 puppy seminars this summer. One a one day seminar, and another a 3 day Puppy Camp in BC. I'm also working with Loretta Mueller via cyberspace, and she's helping me stay on track with a program to help me build the best working relationship with this guy.  I respect her training style and the results she gets in her own, and students dogs. I'm venturing into some new training territory with him - running contacts among other things, and having her one-on-one guidance is awesome. It is not only helping my relationship with him, but will benefit my training and teaching overall. 

I was going to list the things we are working on, but honestly, there is just so much ... for instance, I lost count at over 100 people and 70 dogs met. And apparently, none of them are strangers - they are all his best friends. It is a challenge having a dog so friendly, but it has always been important for me to have an outgoing dog (atleast socialized to the point of being able to handle almost any situation in public etc) - so we are working on the balance and so far, so good. He is recalling off of playing with other dogs and learning focusing on me as the giver of all things great and glorious. I love his drive, and we are working on creating a sold work ethic. This puppy is a shining light, a total joy, and he also has very sharp teeth ... and he knows how to use them.
Mr. Fitz 14.5 weeks old