August 26, 2015

Vixey herding on April 1st 2015

Happy times!

This blog update has been in the works for a long time. I’ve been thinking about writing it since last December! Obviously it’s been busy, not only in the dog world but also in my personal life. During this past year, Vixey has developed into an amusing young adult, Vanilla has continued her career on the agility fields and Gin has finally gotten rid of valley fever meds and is doing great (more on valley fever in a previous blog post)! On the unfortunate side, Vixey too got valley fever this past April and is still on meds (only half a dose anymore). She is doing great though and got into treatment quickly so hopefully getting off meds is in the near future for her as well. Although, there is one interesting thing about her case which is that her valley fever titer keeps coming back negative. So can we even be sure it really was valley fever? Another scary event was when Gin either ate or licked a poisonous toad or got into some other kind of poison somewhere on our previous yard and again was at the brink of death spending a day at the animal hospital on fluids and meds and several days on meds at home. But yet again, she beat whatever it was and is still among us, as happy as ever! She’s one tough dog I got to say!

Vixey’s training has been going great, she is the fastest, most agile dog I’ve probably ever had. And I thought I’d never say this after having Vanilla. So beware fellow agility people, I own a rocket :). That is..  if I can ever control that rocket in a way that would enable us to actually finish an agility course! But competition is not in our near future yet, we are still training fundamentals. We just started training weave poles (we are doing channel method) since she’s finally getting old enough to do that and also only recently introduced the full dog walk and jumps at full height. We took it pretty slow, mostly practicing shadow handling, free shaping jumps and un-agility-related tricks, getting good contacts and cone work (out-command, front/rear crosses) with the excellent guidance of our wonderful trainer Denise Evans. Of course this has been paired by training with both treats and toys, clicker training and basic obedience training.

Agility aside, the other interesting venue we’ve been doing lately is sheep herding. Watching Vixey literally gives me goose bumps! She is a natural! I will post a couple videos on this site later so you can take a look :)  I can’t wait to get my own sheep! Oh wait.. I wasn’t supposed to say that out loud! I’m still working on the hubby.  But you get the point, I’m excited, Vixey is excited. Right now I’m just working on trying to find a place to practice somewhere closer than Tonopah, which is almost 3 hours away. It’s a great place though, run by Maci McGraw and her family. They are the most welcoming, wonderful people one could meet! They really inspire me! They offer great clinics a couple times a year, one of them being with Vixeys breeder Patrick Shannahan which was one of my dog training highlights last year. He has real talent and a way with dogs that impresses me over and over again. His style gives a lot of room for the dog to learn to read sheep on its own, with guidance from us handlers.

Other good news in the dog world is that Vanilla is, finally, after years of (not so focused) training, competing in the 3rd class in agility (putting it the Finnish way). Here in Tucson it’s called excellent class in AKC. That has always been my ultimate goal with Vanilla and I’m so excited we got there! I wasn’t sure if we ever would and hadn’t really put any pressure on it, which makes me appreciate it even more! Go Vanilla! I’m so proud of that little fur ball of energy!

Our year has been full of other kinds of activities as well and the dogs are almost always with us enjoying life to the fullest! Gins favorite activity by far is sailing and then roaming the empty beaches hunting fish! This goes for any lakeside/river trip as well and she has successfully been able to catch some fish! While she’s hunting the Border Collies usually enjoy running full speed on the beach, possibly chasing birds or bringing us sticks to throw in the water. One of the greatest things to notice has been seeing Vixey grow up into a really stable, confident young dog. She loves sailing (and the boat) and even swimming is now in her list of fun activities even though her first couple times weren’t so great. Blame on me! We were swimming from the boat to shore one time when the boat was anchored and miscalculated the distance to shore (at least from a point of view of a little puppy) and she got pretty tired and we had to take turns swimming with her. Luckily she is tough and forgot about the whole incident the minute we hit the beach. 

We have done a bunch of long road trips as well. Another trip to Grand Canyon, a trip to the mountains in southern Colorado, a summer trip to see family in northeastern Oregon and several trips to San Diego and Mexico. The dogs seem to love the exploring and the excitement and are always waiting at the car ready to go when we are packing! They pile up in the back of the car, fall asleep usually on top of each other and then wake up right before the activity starts. If I didn’t know better, I couldn’t tell I was traveling with three dogs. People always ask me, how we deal with the dogs on all our trips, and I have to say, so far there’s never been a time I would have rather left them home. Sometimes dealing with dogs is tough, like when you go eat in a restaurant on your road trip (especially since we don’t usually do any fast food). But it’s pretty remarkable how many puppy friendly eateries there are out there! Of course there are times that you just need to park the car in front, leave it running with the AC on or the other person in the car, and go get food as quickly as possible and eat in the car. Then at night we either book a room in a dog friendly hotel like La Quinta which doesn’t charge a dog fee or go to a camping spot and sleep in our tent which we always have with us. It can get a little crowded in there with the pups but I sort of enjoy having one dog warm my feet, one my side and use one as a pillow ;). 

Trips are only a small part of life though. Our everyday life is what counts and there has been many improvements in it lately from a doggie point of view. We moved to a house with a walled yard that sits right next to a wash which enables long, mostly off-leash, morning runs! I am absolutely thrilled about it and so are the dogs who have pretty much become wild (or at least they might think so)! We also got a little kiddy pool for them for the hottest summer days and they love playing in it!

In my opinion, we’re truly living the happy times! :)