Monday, December 28, 2015

Gift of Love

I was going to let Beckett and Keltic write their Christmas post but after I made the video I decided it would be done by me.

 For the last few years every time I decorate my tree I think of my Mum and Dad. The song by Rita MacNeil, Gift of Love makes me think of Christmases past and all that they did for us kids. The song sometimes bring tears to my eyes. My Mum and Dad didn't have loads of money but Christmas was always special.  There were always plenty of presents, candy and lots of good food. I don't know where my mother found the time to do the baking she did, I find it hard to make just a couple of things. I'm sure there were many late nights getting ready for Christmas day.

Our tree was always special, Dad would bring it in and get the lights put on it. Then we all helped to decorate it. Some of the ornaments from when we were children are still being used by my sisters. I have some ornaments that my parents gave to me on my tree and I now have some that I gave to them as well. The two stained glass birds that you will see in the video; the cardinal says "To Dad with Love" and the chickadee says "To a Special Mom".  When we were young, the last thing to be put on the tree was tinsel; it made the tree just glisten with the lights.

My Dad is gone now and my Mum lives in a nursing home, sadly she's slipping away from us too. But as it says in the song they will always be a candle in my life.

Christmas, for me,  is still special though, because of those memories from childhood but even now having family and friends to make new memories with helps keep it a special holiday. I hope your Christmas was special and that the New Year will be happy and prosperous.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Do You Hear What I hear?

Beckett and Keltic think they might have heard something on the roof. It's a little early yet but it won't be long now. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Last Trial of 2015

On the weekend of 5 and 6 Dec, we went to our last agility trial of 2015.  I hoped that we would end on a good note and the boys didn't let me down. Beckett went three for four and in his first run a Masters Standard, he only had five faults. Our second run was a Steeplechase, our favourite since there are no refusals. Beckett went clean and it was his 35th Steeplechase Q. We're closing in on Expert Silver; for that title you need 50 qualifying scores. Next up was a Masters Snooker, you might remember Beckett took and off-course jump in our last Snooker before we had enough points to Q. This time he made me work for our Q. I had planned to do obstacle 7 three times. We got through it twice and then Beckett knocked a bar on 7A; I knew to get enough points we now had to try to do all four reds. So we headed for the back red (the one not marked with a 1) and then the teeter, then the last red jump and obstacle 3. We then started the close, the buzzer for time went after the we had just finished the teeter, the judge's whistle would have gone as soon as we tried 7A anyway. I wasn't sure we had enough points so I had to go add them up, we did.

Masters Snooker

Our last run was very late, I almost thought about going home, I had Keltic entered in the first event the next morning and it's over an hour's drive but we stayed and I was glad I did. Beckett got another Q, he was only one of two dogs to Q this Master Standard.  It wasn't pretty but we'll take it. I had to front cross Beckett after he came out of the chute to get him to the back side of the jump, then another front cross to get on the correct side and then another front cross to make the weave entry better for him. There's probably some fancy international move I could have done rather than 3, rather late, front crosses but it worked. The rest of the run was sweet.  The Q gives Beckett 19 Master Standard Q's. He needs 6 more for his Expert Silver Standard and for his Silver Award of Merit.

Masters Standard
We got home rather late. I fed the dogs, got everything ready for the next morning, had peanut-butter on toast for supper and went to bed. Keltic's first event was at 8:30 am so we had to get up early to drive back down to the trial venue so we were up early. Keltic's first event was an Advanced Standard, he wouldn't weave and unfortunately the judge had two sets of six weaves so we spent a lot of time just trying to do those two obstacles. We had the most faults of all the dogs in the class. This club now has do-over runs for the Standard events. The runs don't count for Q's but for $5, you can go in and run the course again with toys and clickers so I went in again with Keltic. He still had a hard time with the weaves but was much better. Keltic's next run was an Advanced Gamblers, we had a very nice opening, Keltic got 37 points without even doing a mini gamble. The Gamble was a tunnel, then a jump set up like a serpentine, out to another jump (as the distance obstacle, then wrap back to the first jump. Keltic did the first two obstacles nicely but then wouldn't go to the distance jump; in the end he did though and we finished the main gamble, well over time but he did it!

Advanced Snooker
 Our last run was an Advanced Snooker. I planned an ambitious course so that we wouldn't have to do the weaves. We did red, then teeter, red then obstacle 6, another red then obstacle 6 and then the last red and obstacle 6 again before cutting across to start the close with the tire, obstacle 2. With this opening we only had to get through the first three obstacles of the close to get our Q. We got through the opening just fine except that twice Keltic went by obstacle 6C so I had to put him over it and wrap back (combination obstacles are usually multi-directional in the opening).  Keltic came across to the tire without jumping on me or grabbing at my pant legs and we started the close, a tire and two tunnels were all that we needed; Keltic nailed them. The buzzer hadn't gone when we finished obstacle 4 so I gave the weaves another shot, again Keltic missed the entry. We know what we're working on this winter. The judges whistle went and we ran for the finish line to stop the time.  A Q for Keltic, his third Advanced Snooker Q so now he moves to Masters in that event. Keltic has yet to run a Masters event but since now he's qualified to run Masters in two events he may just get that chance in 2016.

So it was a wonderful way to finish 2015, four Q's. Even the weather couldn't have been better, with no snow and sunny skies, we  played Frisbee outside and Keltic got to run and socialize with other Shelties. Beckett just wants the Frisbee. We got home at a decent time, I fed the dogs, showered and went to my sister's home for dinner; that's always nice not to have to cook. And I got my first Christmas gift, some trees for my Christmas Village.

Already looking forward to the 2016 agility year.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Sudden Loss

Before it's old news I wanted to write a blog post about a loss that our agility community suffered this past week. I didn't really know him so I don't have any details but this week Adrian Rooyakkers passed away suddenly.
For those of you that follow my blog, you've seen me write posts about the Canada Cup. The Canada Cup is hosted by Adrian and his family at their kennel in Ariss, Ontario. Royakkers Kennel is an agility heaven; large open space, a pond, outdoor ring, an indoor ring with artificial turf, just a wonderful place to go and compete. For me, the Canada Cup is likely as close to an international competition as I will ever see. The courses are always challenging and fast. 

Adrian was also a great agility handler and trainer. When he ran his dogs he looked as if he was running in slow motion, he never had to race his dog but always seemed to be in the right position. He was a World team member for both the AAC and CKC World teams. I'm not sure that the link will work but it is for a video where Adrian directed his dog around the course with verbals alone. The videographer called them the Lazy Handler videos, there are about 4 that they made just to show it wasn't just dumb luck.

I'm not sure there will be a Canada Cup next summer now. I had made the decision not to go as you have to jump your regular jump height and I have put both Beckett and Keltic down to 10". But now if there is another Canada Cup, we'll go and give it all we have in way of  honour to a great agility handler and sportsman.

The last link is to Beckett's Grand Prix finals run from this year's Canada Cup with Adrian as the judge.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Agility Weekend at AARF

This past weekend marked the start of Absolute Agility Recreational Facility's indoor trial season. They host indoor trials at a fairgrounds about an hour from my house. The trials are run in an agricultural arena with an attached large heated room for crating.  You are also permitted to have your dog off leash in the fields beside the arena. You do have to watch for a few cars as some people cut through the fairgrounds to go into the village.

On Saturday, it was all Masters events and Sunday was the Starters and Advanced events; that worked out good for me as I was able to focus on running only one dog.  Beckett ran in four events on Saturday and Keltic got his turn on Sunday afternoon.

Beckett was in Snooker, Steeplechase and two Standards. The Snooker was up first and as we just got our Bronze award we are a long way from the next title so I was treating it a bit like a warm-up run. Because of that maybe I didn't handle things quite the way I should have.

Masters Snooker

We had a nice opening and were doing the close, Beckett was in the weaves and I was turning for the teeter (obstacle 6) when Beckett decided he was to do the jump (marked R3) before doing the teeter.  R3 stands for red jump 3, you only do the red jumps in the opening so we were whistled off the course and without having finished obstacle 6 and 7 we did not have enough points to Q. Perhaps I didn't turn sharply enough or give Beckett a verbal cue soon enough and he thought we were still going straight.

You be the judge, you can see most of our run from this video that a friend took.

Beckett did get a Q in Steeplechase, number 33. Only 17 more to go for his Silver Expert Award, that's a lot of qualifying scores.

He didn't Q in either Standard and those are the ones we really want as he only needs 8 more Standards for Silver Award of Merit which is given for 25 Standard and 50 Games qualifying scores. We already have all the Games we need, just need those Standards.

Master Standard 2

In the second Master Standard. I thought we had it. It was running so nicely I was actually ahead of Beckett, maybe too far ahead. I put him into the tunnel at 15 and did my turn to get ready to send him into the weaves but then I had to wait for him to come out of the tunnel. And Beckett did what he hardly ever ever does, he missed the weave entry. A friend said she thought I was too close but I watched him go by me right by pole 1 and into the weaves between pole 2 and 3. I think it was because I had stopped moving so when he came out of the tunnel there was no real cue to tell him where he was going.

So any way we ended the day with only one Q but that doesn't tell the whole story as he ran really well.

Sunday, we didn't have to be there until after lunch but we went early which was a good thing as Starters moved along quite quickly. We had time to take some pictures of Beckett and Keltic wearing their new Christmas collars and have a game of frisbee before settling in to study course maps.

Posing with new Christmas collars
Keltic's first two runs were Advanced Jumpers. You might remember I made a mistake and entered him in an event under a judge that he had already earned Qs with; to move to Masters you need three qualifying scores with at east two judges. All 3 of Keltic's were with the same judge so he needed another. He got a refusal in the first one and I was sure he had a refusal in the second run too but he ran well so I was happy with the runs.  Turns out in the second run we were outside the refusal zone when he turned back towards me so it was a Q.

Advanced Jumpers
What I thought was a refusal happened between jump 12 and the tunnel at 13, Keltic turned back towards me, spinning just a bit (he's no where's near as spinny as Beckett) before heading into the tunnel. So now Keltic moves up to the highest level Masters Jumpers.

Next up was an Advanced Snooker, Keltic knocked a red bar so we had to move onto the last red and getting him across the ring took a little time but I got him there and we finished our opening and had started the close when we ran out of time.  Always good when you can use the full 60 seconds and not get whistled off at a much shorter time, oh say 9 seconds.

Last up was an Advanced Standard, with all the issues I've been having with Keltic, I wasn't going to do Standards till we worked through a few of them.  One issue though I felt was best worked on in a trial situation and that is start line stays. He's been breaking his stay all this year and it's gotten to the point I can barely stand up and he's taking off. So I was pretty relaxed going into this event as all I thought we would be doing is start line stays and then dog walk contacts.

Advanced Standard

Keltic did break his start line but I got him back before he had a chance to cross the start line so the timer hadn't started the clock. The second time I sat him, he stayed! Then, surprisingly, he got his dog walk contact too and then we were off. When we got to the table, I thought he had a refusal there but I guess he moved sort of sideways to the table then hopped on without any backward motion so no refusal there. At the weaves a lot of dogs missed the entry. I had to do onside weaves as Keltic doesn't yet get the offside entry. Rather than trying to just use a verbal and an arm motion I did a false turn (sort of old school) which called him into me, when I turned back to the weaves, he didn't turn so I post turned and sent him into the weaves. You might not understand all the technical stuff but what's important is that when I sent him he went, got the entry, stayed in and did all 12 weaves. He then let me rear cross 13 and get him into the right end of the tunnel at 14. Then we were off again to run the obstacles on the outside of the ring to cross the finish line. I was very happy with how he ran but thought I had two refusals. A friend who had watched the run said "A Q for Keltic"; I took that to mean any time you have a really nice run it's as good as a Q. I still didn't realize he had a Q until I looked at the results. I was gobsmacked as they say in England.

First Advanced Standard Q for Keltic

So all in all we had a good weekend. I was very pleased with how both Beckett and Keltic ran. Keltic Pumpkinhead might not be such a pumpkinhead after all.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Howl-o-ween

Mums carved a couple punkins last night. She wasna too happy wid how da first one turned out. The next one took lots o time but it turned out just great.  She broked both of the little carving knifes so she had to go real slow to do da little pieces.


Haunted House
Today Mums raked a lot o leaves from da backyard and set up da front porch for da little trick or treaters. We been wearing our howl-o-ween collars all week but today Mum's made us wear da hats too for da picture. Keltic did na wanna look at Mums so I had to sit for quite a long time afore she got a good picture. Mums does na trust Keltic much either as she putted a leash on him too so he could na runs away. I is a good boy and did na need a leash on me.

We is all ready now for da little kids to come.

Happy Howl-o-ween from me, Beckett and from my pumpkinhead brudder Keltic.

Monday, October 12, 2015


It's beautiful fall day, just one of the many things that I'm thankful for. When I was younger, Thanksgiving was just a long weekend with a wonderful meal prepared by my mother and father. I didn't really appreciate it but now I think it is my favourite holiday.  It doesn't have the hustle and bustle of Christmas but it's a holiday that gives you time to spend with family and time to reflect on what's important.

Saturday I hosted an ice cream social in my sun room. It was wonderful to have so many friends and family join me. I couldn't have asked for a nicer fall day. I think everyone enjoyed their sundaes.

While there's no longer a meal prepared by my parents; the next generation is carrying on the traditions. This year my niece and her boyfriend made us Thanksgiving dinner. It was wonderful; turkey with all the trimmings even if we did forget the sweet potatoes in the microwave.

Today, I put away the outdoor patio furniture and most of the agility equipment. The teeter and mini dogwalk are still out as I think I'll have to mow the lawn one more time and those things have to go in last. It was such a gorgeous day that I decided to take the dogs to Mer Bleu. I used to go there with Duffy when I was first posted here and I took Ceilidh and Tucker there once but with agility taking up most weekends I've never been there with Beckett and Keltic. Today, half the city must have been out, hard to really enjoy the woods with all the crowds of people but once we were on the smaller trails it was pretty quiet.

So as this weekend draws to close, what am I thankful for? I'm thankful for blue skies, autumn leaves of gold and red, and warm breezes. I'm thankful for my freedoms, my health and my home (I love my new sun room). I'm thankful for my fur kids, both those I have with me and all the ones gone ahead that have been part of my journey. I'm thankful to enjoy wealth that many people only dream of; it lets me take part in the wonderful sport of agility with my dogs and to travel and do many things without worrying if I can afford it. But most of all I'm thankful for family and friends who are there when times are good to celebrate with me and when times are not so good to support me.

Beckett and Keltic enjoyed the walk. They got to meet other dogs and were petted by a number of children. Can you find Beckett and Keltic? They were good posing for me today. I'm thankful for that too.

Where are they?

There they are!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


We had an awesome agility weekend and both Keltic and Beckett proved that they are excellent Snooker dogs.

On Saturday, Keltic was in three runs, the first was Advanced Snooker.  It was a very small trial and they were using two rings, alternating between rings to keep things flowing smoothly. Too smoothly, I was videoing the first event for some friends and still had their cameras in my hands when they called for the Advanced Snooker briefing. I just had time to go get my course map and head over to the other ring. I had looked at the course map and had planned a very ambitious course but with only the seven minute walk through before the event started just decided "what the hay" that I would stick with that plan. I didn't think we would get very far, I wasn't even going to get anyone to video but a friend said bring your camera back so I did.(A big thanks to Lisa.)

Advanced Snooker

I think the course I planned was about as long as I could have possibly made it. We did all four red jumps (the single jumps marked with a 1), the 5 obstacle (two jumps and a tunnel) and the 7 obstacle (another two jump tunnel combination) three times in the opening and then started the closing.  Keltic ran well, he snuck in behind me once doing the tunnel for obstacle 7 and in the close, he curled in towards me after obstacle 5 but the rest of the run was beauty. I thought when he curled in after 5 that it might have been considered a refusal and the judge would blow the whistle. We had already gotten enough points by then to qualify and I was getting really tired. The whistle didn't happen so we did the teeter (obstacle 6) and finished obstacle 7 for the fourth time.  Keltic finished with 57 points (a perfect Snooker is 59 points, doing obstacle 7 four times in the opening and finishing the close) in a time of 54.93 seconds; in Advanced he has 60 seconds so we were well under time.

Keltic also got an Advanced Jumpers Q, his third but he doesn't get to move up to Masters as I was sure we had already qualified under two judges; unfortunately all of Keltic's Q's are with only one judge. So thanks to his Mum not checking, he will have to get one more Advanced Jumpers Q. He also got another Advanced main gamble where he was again over time but that tells me he can do them so it will only be a matter of time before he gets those Q's We will make sure that we have those Q's with at least two judges.

On Sunday it was Beckett's turn. He was entered in 4 events, two Masters Snooker, a Masters Standard and a Steeplechase. In the first Snooker, things were going well but then I did a front cross which for some reason he didn't read and he took a jump behind and away from me, really odd. In the Masters Standard, we had a funny refusal. We were heading to the dog walk but some unused tunnels (mouth down) had been placed by the fence and Beckett headed straight for them passing the plane of the dog walk.  Next up was the second Masters Snooker, I really wanted to get this one as it would be Beckett's Expert Bronze Snooker title for 10 qualifying scores at the Masters level. We get over to the briefing and find out that I hadn't read the notes correctly and obstacle 7 was not multi-directional. You had to do the tunnels in order, A,B, C although each tunnel was bi-directional so either tunnel mouth was acceptable. I had to quickly revise my plan, making up a variation of what another competitor said she was doing. We did red jump, 7 A, B, and C, red jump, then 3B, 3A, then red jump and 7 A, B and C again before starting the close with the middle tunnel which was also obstacle 2.  We nearly got a refusal on obstacle 3 when Beckett turned into me after the tunnel. I had nearly forgotten to cross for obstacle 2 and so was not in position to beat him to the end of the tunnel. 

Masters Snooker

We got all the way through the close giving Beckett not only the Expert Snooker Dog title but also his 100th qualifying score; a personal goal I set this year. Beckett also got a Q in the Steeplechase. It was his 30th Q in Steeplechase, we need 50 for his Silver Expert title in that event, who knows maybe next year.

Beckett -  Expert Bronze Snooker Dog of Canada

All in all a great weekend, the weather was great and in addition to the Q's, three of our runs were Best Runs so we also came home with cooling towel for me and a Frisbee and treats for Beckett and Keltic. And we were all SNOOKERED and went to bed fairly early.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The New Addition

 No I didn't get another puppy... but I would like to; I had an addition built on the house. For years now, I've been thinking about putting a sun room on the back of the house. I've had quotes done for kit installations where the panels are prefabricated off-site and installed at your location.  I had thought that this would be less expensive; boy was I surprised at the cost. At the time, I didn't have enough saved to even do the kit installation so I waited a couple years and very nearly signed a contract but I made it conditional on determining if the city would let us build on the existing deck. They wouldn't so I backed out, but I kept on thinking about having a nice sun room. Last spring when my mortgage came due and I still had that sun room on my mind, I borrowed the money since interest rates were very low to do the sun room.  I began the search for a contractor, I had wanted it built last fall but didn't sign a contract in time to have it done so it was scheduled for this spring.

Technoposts and beams
The contractor parked his trailer in my driveway on 8 June for what was to be a five to 8 week job depending on delays. The first delay was that it rained most of the first week and my contractor and his partner got stomach flu so nothing happened in week one. In week 2, the old deck was removed and  my contractor and the technopost installer decided on a different layout for the foundation posts. This meant we needed new engineering drawings and the city needed to approve the revised drawings. The new drawings took nearly a week and the city took 12 working days to approve the drawings. The city tries to get revisions done in five days but technically they have 15 days. But while we waited for the drawings and approval, nothing could be done but the beams and joists, the floor could not be closed in.

Floor Joists

Once we had the approval work on the framing moved along quickly. It was neat to see what had been done each time I came home. When I left to go to Calgary for my niece's wedding and some vacation time with my sister, the tile floor was being installed. I had hoped that the sun room would be nearly complete when I got back.  Nothing much else was done when I got home, it was somewhat disappointing but the windows hadn't yet arrived.


Roof beam and rafters

Roofing and exterior OSB

Insulation and skylights

Tongue in groove pine ceiling

Tile floor
I was home for a few days before going camping, the day before I  left the window installers arrived. Funny thing, the team leader was a sheltie owner that I knew from agility. They started the job and completed it while I was away camping. The siding company was supposed to be in early the next week. I got home from camping on Sunday evening, no one showed up on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. I e-mailed my contractor who told me that my job was the next one but they wouldn't be able to get to it until the next week, but on Friday they showed up at 7:45 am while I was still in bed.

Windows and exterior siding

Interior siding

Siding all installed
With the siding done all that had to be completed before I could use the room was the electrical. The electricians were confirmed but the morning they were to arrive no one showed up until 11 am and then when he did, he couldn't compete the job as he didn't have the necessary tools and screws. He asked if they could come back the next day and told me that they would be there at 7:45 am. Again no one showed up until nearly 11 am; I had called my contractor at 9 am to see if something had happened. It was different electrician who showed up and I guess there was some miscommunication about what time he was to do my job. He finished the job which was a good thing as I had already asked my sister and brother-in-law if they could help me move the patio furniture in that evening.

Section sofa set in the garage

The construction had taken so long that I had purchased a new sectional set when all the stores started to have their summer clearance sales. Thinking the sun room would be close to done when I got back from Calgary, I had the set delivered and had stored it in the garage.

With help from my family, we got the sun room set up on Thursday, 3 Sep, almost two months exactly from the time construction started. There still are some small jobs to do, eaves-troughs and some flashing on the roof line and the final inspections still need to be done as well.  I didn't get to use the sun room on Friday or Saturday as we were heading off to an agility trial but I did get to use it yesterday and if it's not too hot I'll use it today. Hopefully we'll have a nice fall and I'll get a lot of use of it during that time before the weather turns really cold as I won't be able to use it to sit out in then either.
Ceiling Fan

New sectional
Finally relaxing in the sun room

Evening star
So while the project took longer than expected and I didn't get to use it much while I was on vacation (I go back to work tomorrow), I'm very happy with the end result. I'm looking forward to using it next spring and also happy that this winter I won't need to shovel that deck. I use the snow blower on the lower deck so that's not too hard to do.

This was my first really big project and I guess as construction projects go, it went rather well. My only real regret is that I took so long to actually make the decision to build the sun room as I'm sure I'm going to enjoy it immensely, stay-cations are looking better and better, maybe a hot tub will get installed next year.