Thursday, March 31, 2011

One Year of Cava

Cava on her first day in Canada, already rather cheeky!

A year ago today, we were anxiously awaiting Cava's arrival in Canada.   I cannot begin to describe how nerve-wracking that was.  Fortunately she arrived safe and sound and did not seem to be overly stressed by the 9 hour flight.  Puppies are truly amazing.  

The process of picking up a puppy from overseas at the Calgary airport has not improved since we picked up Tally.  First you have to go to Air Canada's cargo area to wait for the puppy to arrive there (usually a good hour after the flight has landed).  Then once the puppy has arrived at cargo, officials remove the paperwork from the crate, fill in a bunch of forms and hand me the paperwork.  I have to then drive the paperwork to the main airport terminal, park in a multistory parkade, walk to the airport, find Canada Customs and then hand over the paperwork for their inspection and to pay GST on the puppy.  Customs are usually very busy with the international flights that are coming in, so this usually involves a frustrating wait while they deal with travellers who need their shoes disinfecting, luggage checking...etc etc....    Meanwhile all I can think about is poor Cava, who is still stuck in her crate.....  Then once I have all of the appropriate stamps on the paperwork, I head back to find my vehicle in the parking maze and drive the stamped paperwork to the cargo area for their approval.   Then finally, they hand Cava over and I get to see her and let her out of her crate!   At some point during that process, Cava was inspected by an Ag Canada vet and the Air Canada staff kindly cleaned up her bedding and crate. 

That already seems like much more than year ago.  I feel like Cava has been with us for years and we have done so much already.   We are so glad we took the plunge and decided to bring her over here.   Thank-you to Sarah Whittaker for trusting us with her and to my parents for driving me out to see the litter.

Cava in the UK, wet and tired after a couple of hours of playing with us and her relatives

Cava and my Mum in Suffolk

Cava's Mum, Beate.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On Again, Off Again...

Lupine and I have been battling on with utility training. At least twice I have given up, thinking she just wasn't cut out to be a utility dog and getting frustrated with her, especially with the signals exercise. Then each time we've started up again, I've seen some hope and improvement that has encouraged me to keep going with it. A couple of weeks ago I put her in a fun match, knowing that she is not ring ready, but at least at a match I could add in some extra rewards for good work and use a target for the go-outs, etc. Most of our training has been at home, so it was good to get her working the utility exercises in a different place. She only passed 2 of the 5 exercises (!), but it confirmed for me where the holes are (signals - no surprise there - plus our heeling and fronts are rusty). As usual, she worked happily through the whole routine, which is one of the things I love about her. Now that the snow and ice is finally disappearing and it is warming up (well, a little bit), we can train outside. This means we can get back to working on the directed jumping exercise, which needs more space to train than we have indoors. I took some video while we were training yesterday - first the scent articles (the one with my scent on it is #6 for both the metal and wooden article) and then directed jumping. It's not the easiest thing to handle the dog and videotape at the same time, so please forgive the quality! The plan is to work hard on getting her ring ready over the summer and possibly put her in the ring in the fall..... assuming we keep with the "on again" plan....

Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy Birthday to the Songbirds

Today our Songbird litter turns 5 years old. Happy Birthday to Roekkr, Wally, Toby, Sam, Maggio, Rosie & Riley! They have grown up to be wonderfully talented dogs.

Pipit and Louis are very sadly missed. They were lost far too soon to gastric torsion (Pipit) and mesenteric torsion (Louis).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy Spring!

Cava and Puffin "chatting" about spring (actually they were just annoyed that I had interupted their playing and put them on a stay!)

Lupine, looking for spring?

A few photos of the first day of spring here at Blazingstar! There is some hope though. The robins have been back for about a week and yesterday we saw our first bluebirds. Hopefully they can make it through the next few snowy days.

More Success for Maggio

A much more recent photo of Maggio (plus his 3 Novice Obedience ribbons from last weekend)

This weekend Maggio and Annette were in the APTD rally ring. On Saturday they finished his Rally level 2 (with a second placement) , and continued on to level 3, where he won two first placements and High in Trials!

Annette writes that they are now going to take a well desrved break, spending time with family, chewing bones and running in the woods. No doubt they will be back the ring soon though....

Congratulations again to Maggio and Annette - what a great team they are!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Maggio Earns His CD

Maggio at 8 weeks

Big congratulations to Annette and Maggio for earning their CD in 3 straight trials in Calgary last weekend. They had fantastic scores, all in the 190's and placed in their class in each trial. Maggio is Blazingstar Mountain Bluebird CD, from our Mikey x Tally litter.

Well done Annette and Maggio!

A Basket of Puppies

How cute is this? These are Annie's 5 puppies in Indiana. Not only am I jealous of the puppies, I am envious of their green grass!

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Puffin, looking very cute and proud of herself.

Cava, ready to help us re-decorate our house.

We have had such a long, snowy, icy and cold winter that it's been impossible to do any field training out of doors. But it has given us the chance to make great progress on teaching the young dogs to hold and fetch. It's a slow process, requring lots of repetition and patience, but both Cava and Puffin will now sit and hold a dumbell on a "stay" and they can also do a short recall and sit in front while holding the dumbell. As you can see from these photos, I can now substitute the dumbell with other objects!

It has been interesting to work with 2 young dogs at the same time and see all of the differences in how they learn and work. Cava is very good at any activity that requires a lot of movement, but finds it harder to maintain a static behaviour. Puffin is much better at the latter, but takes a bit longer to catch on to behaviours that require a lot of movement. At first, when I was simply teaching them to hold the dumbell whilst sitting, for longer and longer periods of time, Puffin raced ahead of Cava, making much quicker progress. But once we progressed to moving with the dumbell, Cava lept ahead of Puffin! Puffin struggled a bit with the idea of moving and holding the dumbell at the same time, but we took baby steps and she can now finally do a short recall at home with the dumbell.