Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Wishes

It's Christmas Eve, all the presents are wrapped and the decorating done; now it's time to relax and enjoy time with family and friends.

I hope everyone has a very wonderful holiday. No matter how you celebrate, it is a time to reflect on all of our blessings: health, home, fur kids, family and friends.

My Christmas Village
  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
from Helen, Tucker and Beckett

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tucker's Travels

On Tuesday, 7 Dec 2010, Tucker had a second ultrasound as his blood work from the previous week showed that his liver enzymes were still climbing.  This second ultrasound was necessary in order to do a guided needle biopsy of his liver.  They also took a urine sample while he was in for his ultrasound.

Tucker - June 2010

We got the results of the needle biopsy and urinalysis on 15 Dec 2010. There was good news and some not so good news.  His urine concentration was normal and the needle biopsy showed no signs of inflammation or of cancer, thank goodness, but the specialist vet did caution that a needle biopsy is a very small sample and in this case of a very large organ. Tucker's liver did, however, show early indications of Cushing's Disease. Since Tucker is not showing any real symptoms as of yet, there is nothing we can do but watch and wait. We will have more blood work done in March along with some other urine tests. 

I'm to watch for excessive drinking and urination but also for weakness and changes in appetite.  Now I'm second guessing things though. Tucker hasn't been able to climb a long set of stairs for about a year and while, I've called him "gator mouth" for ages, I'm wondering if these are symptoms rather than just normal aging and, what I just thought, was Tucker's love for food.

He's still on Peptid AC, pancreas powder and Zentonil and he does seem to have more energy lately, tugging on toys with Beckett and keeping up with us on walks, so perhaps things are improving.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

From Evergreen to Christmas Tree

My 2010 Christmas Tree - a Fraser Fir

With just the lights

All Decorated

Tucker and Beckett wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Beckett Weaves!!

This past weekend, Beckett and I went to a fun trial at Red Gate Arena which is about 45 minutes in good weather from our place.  They have fun trials there about every other month but they fill up really fast because they are indoors.  This might have been our last fun trial before Beckett competes at his first AAC trial in January. I sent in my entry for both the fun trial in January and in February and found out this weekend, that while we're in the February trial, we're on the waiting list for the January trial.

Beckett did just great at the the fun trial; weaves entries and rear crosses to tunnels are things we'll have to work on. And after watching the videos, I can see that I'll have to give him more information sooner so he doesn't have to check in with me quite so much.

The video above is a weave collage from both the Standard and the Steeplechase and the two links are for the Standard run, of which only one run was videoed, and our two Steeplechase runs.

Beckett - Steeplechase runs - Dec 2010

Beckett - Standard run - Dec 2010

Go Beckett Go!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Weaves - Wondering Why!!

 I began teaching Beckett to do weaves by taking a two by two weaves class; I used my PVC weaves to make my own 2 x 2's at home. I also used channel weaves at the Krazy Kanines' field. By the end of the outdoor season, Beckett would do six weaves on the channel weaves but only if I popped out the second pole just a bit. If I didn't put that pole out a bit, he would enter correctly but come back in between poles 3 and 4.  Two by two's seemed to be causing him a little bit of frustration.

I e-mailed one of the better instructors in the area and asked her if I had made a mistake training with both 2 x 2's and channel weaves. She told me "no" that many people were doing just that. She also told me that many young dogs (or dogs just learning to weave) will miss poles or pop out; she said they have to find a way to "relieve the pressure".  She told me that I should reward Beckett any time he came back in between poles 2 and 3. 

I didn't really get a chance to try her advice as we had to pack up the agility field and once it started getting dark at night I couldn't even practice at home.  I have since purchased two sets of 2 x 2 weave bases and have used them in the basement now for about two weeks.  I didn't really get a chance to reward Beckett for coming back between poles 2 and 3; what I did was to start almost from the beginning with just four poles, getting Beckett to enter correctly and drive out to the second pair of poles.  We progressed rather quickly to the eight poles that you see him doing in the video.  He misses some of his entries but I think that's more my position since there's not a lot of room in the basement to work.

I was so impressed with Beckett's progress I posted this little video this past week on Facebook; but then we went to class on Sunday evening. Beckett wouldn't weave, wouldn't even try, although we were doing some pretty hard entries.  Our instructor, Jeannie, did remove all but two poles for him and when she did that he did get the entry.

We practiced again tonight and I had him doing weaves following an obstacle, a jump.  I'm hoping that will help him collect better. I also noticed that he doesn't seem to need much arm motion from me to do off side weaves. I always call it "go weave" when we're on the near side and "get out weave" for an off-side weave entry. It seems he's got that part. 

Now hopefully I can get him weaving at a location other than my basement, certainly can't run a Standard course there. If the weather holds out and we don't get snow I may try some weaves with him out in the backyard this weekend where we can try moving a bit faster.  I'm also entered in a fun trial on 11 Dec, we've been avoiding weaves at fun trials but this time I think we might just have to give them a shot.

I can see that training with 2 x 2's has had the result of a faster drive through the weaves. Tucker and Ceilidh learned on weave-a-matics and while Ceilidh was pretty fast in the weaves neither she or Tucker had independent weaves. Not good for Masters Gambles.  Two by twos are also supposed to make the entry easier for the dog.  Not sure Beckett has that quite yet, I may go back to one pair of poles and practice entries over the winter so that he nails them from any angle at any distance (well as far away as I can get in the basement).

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Close Up and Personal

Play with Me! Huh Huh Please!!

Just chillin.

I want my frisbee!

One Happy Dude

Wild Boy says, "Watch your tongue, Tucker."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


For most of my life Remembrance Day seemed like a historical event, remembering the dead of wars past.  I had really no family or personal connection. My grandfathers were too young for the first war and too old for the second. My Mother's father was a pattern maker in the shipyards in Halifax during the second world war and so was likely also in a protected occupation. My father and uncles were all too young for the Second World War and none ever served in the Korean war either.

Major Ray Ruckpaul

Even though I was in the military, deaths of soldiers on UN Missions were few and far between and still I had no personal experience. That is until Afghanistan; now I have a personal connection with Remembrance Day. Two of the soldiers who have died on the mission in Afghanistan were colleagues and friends from my time as the Quartermaster of the Armour School in Gagetown: Maj Ray Ruckpaul and Sgt Craig Gilliam.
Sergeant Craig Gilliam

Every year I take the time to look at the photos of every person who has died while we have been Afghanistan. For those that say we should not be there, take a moment and think that there were also people who probably said we had no business taking a stand against Nazi Germany. It really is no different, oppression against a people even by their own government is still oppression.   But really for the soldier, sailor and airman; it is just the job they have sworn to do, to go into harms way when so directed by our government. So please even if you don't agree with our role, remember the courage of the men and women, this Remembrance Day, who have served and paid the ultimate price.

Craig and Ray, in addition to being soldiers, were fathers, husbands, sons and friends.

With the going down of the Sun, we will remember them.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween Humiliation???

Beckett and Tucker waiting for Mum to take the picture so they can eat the muffins.

Beckett - the Pumpkin Pirate 

Ready for the Trick or Treaters
Tucker says "Mum don't you think I'm a little old for Halloween"

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tucker Turns Ten - a Retrospective

My tiny Tucker turns 10 today!!
Quite a big milestone in a dog's life. 

Tucker is my third Sheltie, my second sable male and my second sheltie from Dierenvriend's Kennel where his big brother Gryffon came from too. He was one of a litter of only two male puppies; the first litter for Dienrenvriend Bonnie Wee Mattie. Tucker's sire was Can Ch Fairfax As Good as It Gets.  Tucker's registered name is Dierenvriend's Mattie's Tucker.  Not my choice for the name although the breeder did use the call name I had chosen.
Mattie and her two boys.
Don't ask me which puppy is Tucker in the photo with his Mom, I don't know.  I used to visit the breeder's during my lunch hour. I almost gave up Tucker for his brother. My Gryffon was not the most social of dogs and I wondered how he would react with a new puppy. I had picked the smaller of the two puppies but then during one lunch time visit decided that I should take the larger puppy who was more outgoing. By the time I got back to work, I was feeling like I had abandoned Tucker and called the breeder to say I had changed my mind and would keep the smaller puppy. 
Tucker - Christmas 2000

I got to take Tucker home just as I was starting Christmas holidays so I picked him up from the breeder on my way home to my parent's in Moncton.  I think he started off being really well socialized that way, something that I didn't ensure for poor Gryffon, who was very shy with people and aggressive with other dogs. 

Tucker discovers the Christmas Tree

But Gryffon turned out to be a great big brother. Tucker could crawl all over him and even fall asleep on him.  Gryffon, in fact, seemed always to be very interested in whatever Tucker was doing.  They played tug of war and jousted with their heads, mouths snapping at each other. The only thing Gryffon didn't share was his tennis ball, poor Tucker never got to get the ball, Gryffon was such a ball hog. That's why to this day I say all Tucker learned to be is a cheerleader since when we were playing ball all Tucker got to do was run back and forth, barking.  
Gryffon watching Tucker intently.

Tucker - gangly boy!

Camping with Gryffon, Bogart and my niece and nephew Jessica and Daniel
My favourite picture of Gryffon and Tucker.

Tucker and I lost his big brother, Gryffon on 23 August 2002 from complications following exploratory surgery which found that he had an abdominal wall infection. Gryffon was only 7 and half years old. So far sooner than I expected, Tucker became an "only" dog.

Tucker and Ceilidh - Summer 2003
 In March of 2003, Tucker got a little sister, Kelbren "Ceilidh"  Everlasting.  That summer we moved from New Maryland, New Brunswick to Angus, Ontario.  I started obedience classes at Barrie Canine Connection with Ceilidh and, since they also gave agility classes, decided to put Tucker into agility. I had heard about agility but had never had the opportunity to take classes anywhere. We got hooked. Tucker proved to be a good agility dog, he wasn't too fast but he was a thinker.  Initially,  I didn't think that he would be all that succesful even though we got a qualifying score in Jumpers at our very first trial and he got his Agility Dog of Canada title in less than a year. Once we were out of Starters, Tucker had difficulty making the course times but as soon as he moved to Veterans, then we started to progress. 

Tucker's first trial at Dream Fields which was before we even moved to Ottawa.
The summer of 2006, saw another move for Tucker, Ceilidh and I from Angus, Ontario to our Nation's capital Ottawa.  By now both Ceilidh and Tucker were competing in agility and we quickly discovered the active Ottawa-Kingston agility community.  The next summer, we entered the Ontario Regional Championship for the first time. Tucker did very well and qualified for Nationals.  Tucker competed at Nationals in 2007 at Halton Hills, Ont, in 2008 in Sussex, NB and in 2009 in Ottawa, Ont.  At Nationals in 2008, he placed he placed 8th in one of Gamblers events. It was the first time he completed a National or Regional main gamble. He would have placed 10th overall in his height class except that in the other Gamble event, I got greedy for points and tried to put him over a two point jump near the dog walk. Tucker took the dog walk instead and when the buzzer sounded, he was on the dog walk heading away from the main gamble. Tucker did do that main gamble but just not in the time allowed.  At Nationals in 2009, Tucker placed in every event in his height class and placed 7th over all for his height class, 6" Double-Drop Veterans.  
Tucker - 2009 AAC Agility Nationals - Ottawa, On
Tucker also completed all the title requirements for the Agility Trial Champion of Canada title, the Bronze Award of Merit and his Bronze Versatility Award during his agility career.  Not too bad for a dog that I initially thought would have difficulty getting his Agility Dog of Canada title.  So to use all of the letters for his titles after his registered name, he is:

Dierenvriend's Mattie's Tucker, SADC, VGDC, VAADC, VAGDC, VMADC, VMJDC, VMGDC, VMSDC, VMTRDC, VATChC, ExJ Bronze, ExSt Bronze, ExTR Bronze, Bronze Versatility, Bronze Award of Merit.

At Nationals in 2009, Tucker nearly slid off the A-frame in the rain and was having difficulty meeting the course times. After Nationals, he refused to do A-frames and he continued to have difficulty meeting the course times. I made the decision that it was in his best interest to retire him from competitve agility; he still likes to play for fun when there are treats in the ring and no A-frames.

Tucker and Ceilidh got a new little brother during the Labour Day weekend of 2009, Triadic's Glenciaran Beckett.  Tucker accepted him pretty easily but Ceilidh was not too impressed.

Tucker and Beckett - Summer 2010

Sadly this past May, Tucker, Beckett and I lost our Ceilidh girl to Mast Cell Cancer. Beckett wasn't really affected by the loss but I think Tucker missed her; I know I sure did, still do.

Last Moments Together - Ceilidh and Tucker

Recently as a result of having pre-op blood work done for dental work, we have found that Tucker has what is suspected to be chronic pancreatitis. He is currently on medications and dietary supplements which seem to be working but we won't know for sure until additional blood work is done once we have completed the course of medications. He does, however, seem to be somewhat more energetic already so I hope the medications are effective and will clear up the pancreatitis.
Devil Prince
Tucker has been a great dog and companion, laid back he always takes everything in stride. I wish he had another ten years with me but I know how unlikely that would be.  Today, we are going to enjoy the day together and then, this evening,we'll be giving out treats to the Trick or Treaters. The little kids always wish him Happy Birthday when I tell them Halloween is Tucker's birthday. I'm going to make him some low-fat pumpkin oatmeal muffins for his birthday cake. There's no doubt that my food hound will enjoy that. 

Happy Birthday Tucker Boo!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tucker's Travels

Tucker at Halloween 2008
In April, I had blood work done on Tucker so that we could have dental work done. We found out that his cholesterol and triglycerides were elevated. After testing for Cushings and hyperthyroidism, he was put on a low fat diet which my vets hoped would lower his cholesterol.

Last week, I had his blood retested and his cholesterol and triglycerides were still elevated so my vet did additional tests to see how his pancreas and liver were doing. Those results came back through the roof.  Worried that it was acute pancreatitis, my vet referred me to Alta Vista Animal Hospital's Internal Medicine section for an ultrasound.  Dr Rozen told me that often there was an underlying cause such as liver failure or cancer but even pancreatitis left untreated could be life threatening. They advised me to get into Alta Vista as soon as possible; that was last Thursday, 21 Oct.  I called Alta Vista right away but the vet that I had been recommended to see had no openings until Tuesday; not wanting to wait, I asked if there were any earlier appointments with any other vets in that department.  I was able to get in on Friday with the same vet who treated Ceilidh, Dr Bravo.

My appointment on Friday was for 11:00 am, Dr Bravo was so apologetic when she saw me.  I left Tucker there for his ultrasound, not knowing what kind of results I would get.  I worried all day that it would be the worst, which for me would have been to hear that he had cancer.  At about 3:30 in the afternoon I got the call from Alta Vista asking if I could come back in for 4:45pm and that Dr Bravo would see me. That got me even more worried as my experience has been if its good news the vet tech will tell you when they call. 

I was ready for the worst, but when Dr Bravo came into the office she said it was good new of sorts. I relaxed a little bit and began to breathe.  Tucker's ultrasound was normal and so with no other symptoms other than being lethargic and the blood work results, her diagnosis was chronic pancreatitis. She gave us some medication that he is to take for 30 days, put him on a couple dietary supplements which he can take long term and also Peptid AC.  She also recommended a low fat hypoallergenic diet. Try finding that! I have a feeling that I will end up cooking for him. We are to repeat blood work for him now every six months. 

So we are now doing smaller meals twice a day rather than one big meal a day. I think both he and Beckett are enjoying that.  Tucker seems to be a little more energetic already but that could be the crisp fall weather. 

It was quite the scare to think about losing Tucker. I know the end is inevitable for all of us but I just didn't want to think about losing Tucker so soon after losing Ceilidh. He will be 10 years old at the end of the month and even though I know that means he is approaching the average life span for a Sheltie, I hope we have many more years together.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Have Ewe Herd

Have ewe heard, Beckett is a sheepdog!

Beckett had a really busy weekend. On Saturday we attended the Krazy Kanines Fall fun trial. We were very lucky to have nice weather for the long weekend. The field was still somewhat soggy though as a result of all the rain the previous week. Beckett and I ran the Starters Standard and then the Advanced Standard. He did really well and I was really happy with his contacts.  Beckett and I had to leave the fun trial to go to his agility class. I got back to the fun trial in time to let Tucker do a Jumpers run, after all the old guy still likes to play and the young guy can't have all the fun.

Sunday, my family had our Thanksgiving dinner at my sister's place but the dogs always get to join us. The sad part of Sunday was closing down the agility field that morning. As you never known in this part of Canada, we could have good weather now for weeks but we could also have snow by the end of the month.

But Monday was the day we were really waiting for, Beckett went for a Herding Instinct Test. It was a gorgeous fall day; a great day for a drive to Ewenique Farms in Alfred Ontario, which is about 55 kilometers from my place.  We got there in time to see about five other dogs being tested. It was amazing to see the change in behaviour when dogs realized that they could move the sheep. Then it was Beckett's turn; he was the last dog to be tested.  At first he didn't seem interested at all and then a little nervous when the Border Collie ran at the sheep.  But he was a brave boy and kept coming back to me, each time he spooked. It seemed to me that our test took longer than some of the other dogs, maybe because we were the last dog but then maybe it just seemed long because I was in the pen just hoping that Beckett would show some interest in herding the sheep. Natalie, the tester, twice pulled a sheep from the herd for Beckett to check out. The second time I gently made him get really close, afterwards he seemed to catch on that the sheep weren't going to bother him and then he realized that he could move the sheep around. Then you could see those instincts kick in as he ran back and forth behind the small herd of sheep. He really seemed to be enjoying it by the end and was confident enough to move away from me and go herd sheep.

Beckett passed the herding instinct test, so my little Beckett boy really is a sheepdog and not just a "sheepish" dog. Well, maybe just a little bit sheepish.

We had a lot of fun trying it out. I went to the test just wanting to see what he would do but you never know, maybe there are some herding lessons in Beckett's future.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Thanksgiving with Family and Friends

This past weekend was Thanksgiving, well here in Canada anyway.  I like Thanksgiving as it is a nice time to just get together with family and friends before the Canadian winter hits. Thanksgiving is also a lot less hectic and stressful than Christmas. 

This year my sister Juanita hosted Thanksgiving Dinner at her place. My youngest sister Maureen and her husband, Fred came up from Kingston. My nephew's girlfriend's family,  the Jellett's joined us for dinner.  But also in attendance was my Uncle Mike who is moving back to Canada after being out of the country for 23 years.  The only sad thing was that Mike's wife Bon couldn't get her residents visa in time to be here for Thanksgiving but hopefully she'll be here for Christmas.

Mike and Juanita did most of the cooking but I brought two desserts: apple crisp and pumpkin spice cake.  We had a traditional turkey supper with mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, bean salad, green salad, rolls and, of course, stuffing. Can't have a turkey dinner without stuffing; it has to be the best part of the meal. In addition to my two desserts there was also pumpkin pie and cherry cheese cake. Needless to say that no one left the table hungry.

I think everyone enjoyed the evening although Mike was a little jet lagged since he had only arrived the night before from Thailand. Even the dogs had a good time, Katie surveying the world outdoors, Tucker hoping for some leftovers (they all got a few bites) and Beckett and Toby roughhousing together.
It would have been nice to have more of the family together but distance makes that very difficult.  But we certainly have many other things to be thankful for, our health, our homes, our family and friends.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Family Adventures Continue

Yesterday (Saturday, 2 October 2010) I drove up to Kingston to attend a parade at the Royal Military College. A young cousin, my Dad's half sister Heather's oldest son Andrew, had been accepted this year at RMC.  The parade marked the end of the orientation period for first year cadets and their official entry to the cadet wing. 

In the video, you will see the second, third and fourth year cadets marching on to the parade square in their scarlet uniforms. The first year cadets, in their blue uniforms, are then marched on parade under command of an upper classman. After the presentation of a number of awards and prizes, the first year cadets received their RMC cap badges.  Following the badging, the first year cadets joined the cadet wing and paraded for the first time as cadets of the Royal Military College. The fly past at the end of the video actually happened during the parade but it seemed to fit in better at the end. The aircraft is a Corsair, also known as a Grey Ghost. The fly past was organized by some ex-cadets to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Navy.

Andrew's flight also won the obstacle course which had been held the day before. The obstacle course is a test of strength, endurance and teamwork and winning the competition is coveted by all the cadets.

My Aunt Heather, her husband Brian and their other two children Christa and Brendon were also on hand for the parade. They had come up to Kingston for the weekend to see Andrew compete in the obstacle course competition and participate in the parades on Saturday and Sunday.

After the parade, Heather and I went to downtown Kingston to meet up with my youngest sister, Maureen. We had a very enjoyable lunch at the Kingston Brewing Company. We didn't get to see much of Fred , Maureen's husband, as Chili Fest was on this past weekend and Fred was volunteering in the Kingston Brew Pub's booth. Chili Fest is a fund raiser for a local charity in Kingston.  

It's not often we get to see one another so even though Kingston is a couple hours away it was well worth the drive. And the weather cooperated even though it was a tad chilly but it sure beat all the rain we had over the past week.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mindless Musings

I read one of my nieces' blogs today and found out that after having attended less than a month of university that she has decided to drop out as she is not 100% sure if university is where she wants to be right now. That's certainly her decision to make but it got me thinking about how my brother, sisters and I are so very different even though we have the same genetics and similar upbringing. Our views on politics, religion, language, you name it differs greatly amongst us. We also seem to have big differences in our attitudes about seeing things through to the end once you start which seems to have been passed on to my nieces and nephews. I had misgivings about university when I started and who knows what they want to do when they grow up, I still don't! But when I started university, I knew I could do it and even when, in my second year, I nearly had a failed year, I stuck it out and got my diploma. I think more than anything else I learned in university, I learned if you worked hard you would achieve some measure of success. What you studied might not even be directly related to your future career but the experience of university (or any other post secondary education) is of great benefit to any future endeavors.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Shaping Obstacle Performance

With my young fellow, Beckett, I back trained, for the first time, the contact obstacles. Ceilidh and Tucker were trained by just having them learn the obstacles with the contact criteria coming afterwards. For Tucker, there never was two on two off; he just did running contacts. For Ceilidh, who began to jump over the contact zone, it required some retraining and we had different criteria for the contact obstacles. The A-frame was a running contact as her natural jump off point was in the contact zone and we trained for a complete stop in the contact zone on the dog walk and the teeter.

An interesting thing happened with Beckett. I had back trained the contact zone behaviour and I used the word "target" with a target dish for that behaviour.  I didn't start using the obstacle name (frame, walk-it and teeter) until we were doing the complete obstacle.  Shortly afterwards Beckett started to stop far short of the contact zone especially on the A-frame where he began to stay right at the top of the A-frame and the only way he would come down was to put his target or a treat down. I thought perhaps I had progressed too quickly with complete obstacle performance and started some additional back training. When I just asked him to "target" he would and when the target was in place, he would perform the full contact obstacle correctly but once the target was removed, he would again stop at the top of the A-frame or on the down ramp of the dog walk. The teeter wasn't as bad as his stopping point was four paws in the contact zone.

In class last Saturday, my instructor, Jeannie suggested making the target progressively smaller and not use the "target" command at all. So last night in my other agility class, Viv and I tried shaping the behaviour without the "target" command and by just waiting until he offered the "two on two off" contact behaviour. We started on the dog walk with the target in place at first. The first time, Becket stopped just as he started the down ramp of the dog walk but moved progressively down the ramp. Each time we repeated the obstacle, he moved further down the down ramp before stopping until finally he was coming right to the end of the dog walk.  On the A-frame, it took quite a bit longer for him to come down and Viv and I had to move away from the frame and wait him out but in the end he was coming down from the top to his contact position. He still isn't driving to the contact position so that will be something we have to continue to work on. 

I found it very interesting (and a bit frustrating) that he appeared to know what the "target" command was if that's all I asked him to do and knew the obstacle command as well but that using both commands caused him to stop where he was as soon as the "target" command was given. What goes through their minds is somewhat of a mystery to me. I hope we can repeat last night's obstacle performance and continue to "shape" the behaviour I want.  Now if we could just learn to weave!! But that's another story.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Booming Times in the Office

There's a new building going up right beside my work and since we face the construction site, its hard not to take some time to watch what's going on once in while. Last week we got the notice that they were going to begin to do some blasting which will continue until end November or early December.  I brought my camera in to work this week and took a couple videos of them charging the holes and setting off the charges.  It's rather interesting to see how close they can be to the actual explosion by using the blast mats which contain any of the fragmentation from the bedrock.  What you see in the video happens three to five times a day, sometimes its a little more dramatic.

Definitely not as exciting as doing open detonations on a demolition range.  It will be interesting, though, to watch the building go up beside us but there's no doubt that we'll be losing our view of the Gatineau Hills.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Beckett's Agility Fun Trial Debut

Last weekend, I took Beckett to his first agility fun trial at Dogz, a training facility in the west end of Ottawa. We had trained there before so the location wasn't totally new to him. I decided before we went that I would try to run the complete courses (with treats provided at key locations) but if it proved too much for Beckett to handle we would just do short sequences. I also decided that we would not attempt the weaves at all but I didn't want to just run right by them. Fortunately in the Standard course, obstacles 3 and 4 (two jumps) were parallel to the weaves so I just did those two jumps a second time rather than run by the weaves. It was a good thing too, as it was 12 weaves that were set up on course and Beckett isn't even doing 6 weaves yet. We're getting there though.

It was beautiful agility weather, cloudy and cool with some sunny periods, although sometimes it was a tad warm when the sun was out which meant jackets on, jackets off. Tucker also came along as a spectator but I did take him over to the practice ring where he did a few jumps and tunnels for his favourite treat, chicken hot dogs. What am I saying Tucker's favourite treat is any FOOD!! Beckett also got to have some free play time with his best bud, Whistler, a sable Sheltie only 3 days older than Beckett.

In our first Standard run, I tried a false turn to get Beckett from the jumps to the tire, since we should have been doing the tire from the weaves, it made for a very awkward entry to the tire. The second time around, I did a front cross which worked so much better and put Beckett on a nice line for the tire and the next obstacle, a tunnel. We have to work on our contacts though, he likes to sit at the top of the A-frame now and usually stops way up on the down ramp of the dog walk but for a young fellow his teeter isn't bad.

In the Jumpers course, the first time around we did the Starters course and the second time we did the Advanced course. In the Starters course, he didn't get out to the second jump of a pin wheel and I wasn't in a good position, having tried a front cross, which put me behind him going up the field. When we ran the Advanced course, I didn't front cross but just stayed on his right side which worked much better. In his Advanced run, I wanted to try a hard false turn from a jump to a tunnel, unfortunately, there was another tunnel right there so in my mind I'm thinking "false turn, tunnel" so what did I do, but put him in the wrong tunnel. Even with the extra tunnel, he ran the course in 28.9 seconds and the standard course time for Minis was 47 seconds. I'm going to have to work on distance with that boy because when he gets going, I'll never keep up.

Some parts of the weekend were bittersweet though. Beckett looks so much like Ceilidh that there were times on the videos that it was her I saw. Two moments in particular stand out, in the first Starters course after running the course, we were practicing jumps to a tunnel with a rear cross and on the second attempt, Beckett refused the tunnel and began to spin and jump; it was classic Ceilidh. When I saw the video of the first Jumpers run, just the way Beckett sat on the start line and then sprung off the line, for the first few seconds I saw Ceilidh. At the beginning of the second Jumpers round it had started to rain but by the time it was Beckett's turn, the sun had come out again and there was a beautiful rainbow. I tried to take a picture of the rainbow but my camera batteries were running low. Luckily for me, Lyne had videoed a few seconds of the rainbow which I incorporated into my video on Beckett's debut. The video is long so if you don't have a fast internet connection, it will likely take quite a long time to download.

We are looking forward to our next fun trials, Krazy Kanines in October and Red Gate's in November and December. Maybe by then we'll try the weaves. Go Beckett Go!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Family Adventures - Part Deux

Well, I promised to continue the story of my family adventures with three of my sisters and two of my nieces. On Friday, 20 August, Karen, Juanita, Maureen, Jessica, Kayla and I went downtown to take a cruise on the Ottawa river. We took cruise on the Empress of Ottawa and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful day and sites from a perspective I had never seen before. Before we went on the cruise we had a few minutes to walk up to Parliament Hill. Jessica and Kayla had their picture taken with the Mounties, a very iconic Canadian symbol.
Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Ontario The Eternal Flame
Chateau Laurier Hotel (where my Dad's reunion was being held) and the locks to the Rideau Canal.

The Canadian Museum of Civilization, the domed part of the facade was designed to represent a Haida Indian ceremonial mask.

At the Rideau River Falls

The Parliament Buildings with the rotunda of the Parliamentary Library.

After the boat cruise we had lunch at Darcy McGee's, a pub on the Sparks Street Mall. During lunch, Kayla kept us in stitches, like what do you say when a waitress asks if Pepsi's alright after you ask for Coke? You say, is Monopoly money okay?!?

We then took a stroll down the Sparks Street Mall. The Sparks Street Mall is an open air pedestrian mall, it used to be very vibrant but now could use some rejuvenation. After a bit of shopping it was time to head home.
I like this shot with Parliament Hill in the background, the street sign for Sparks Street and Maureen, Juanita, and Kayla in the shot. The next shot is just taken looking back up the Sparks Street Mall. There are always musicians on the Mall during the summer months. And what with a Scottish heritage, how ken ye nae love a piper?! The next shot of a sculpture of a bear eating a salmon, that I took just to see the spider webs! The final shot is of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with the Honour Guard manned by Naval personnel during this the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy, although during a ceremony at the Cenotaph held for Air Force reunion that my Dad attended, the Naval personnel were replaced by Air Force personnel.

Dinner on Friday night was hosted by Juanita and Joe at their place. The evening ended as Jessica posted on Facebook, with an east coast kitchen party in the screen room.

Saturday was another shopping day. Maureen left, late morning, to head back to Kingston. I took Karen, Kayla, and Jessica to the Train Yards, an outdoor shopping centre, and to the Place d'Orleans Shopping Mall. I had Dad, Karen and Kayla over for supper as Joe and Juanita were attending a friend's wedding.

Sunday, was Dad, Karen and Kayla's last day in Ottawa. Joe took Dad and Karen to the Diefenbunker Museum in Carp while I took Kayla back to Place d'Orleans as a security tag had not been removed from a pair of jeans she bought. The Diefenbunker is an underground bunker designed to house the Canadian Government in the event of a nuclear war; it is now a museum to the Cold War. We had another wonderful dinner at Juanita and Joe's then it was back to my place. Dad, Karen and Kayla left my place on Monday morning extremely early, like at about 4:30am so that they would get back to Moncton early enough for Karen and Kayla to head back to PEI that same day. It was wonderful to have them up for a visit, hope it isn't so long before our next visit together. Perhaps Annette will be able to join us next time, so all of us sisters can have some more family adventures.