Monday, December 17, 2007

Black and White Photos

Black dogs and white snow.... it's so hard to get a good picture in these conditions. You can see the falling snowflakes as they sparkle against the flash of the camera.

Eros, cutie with snow on his face.

Cole..... is that a black shepherd or a white shepherd?

Ah, yes, it's the elusive Panda Shepherd...

Arlo and his frozen whiskers.
Eros, shoulder deep in snow.

Wrath of Winter

It's only mid-December, and we have already been hit hard with snowfall. At the beginning of December we got hit with 2 1/2 feet of snow. Over time, it compacted down. Over the last day we received another significant snowfall, with the snow on my back deck almost up to the railing! We have never had this much snow on the back deck before. The railing is 42 inches high. The object to the right of the photo is the patio table.
Another view of the patio table, with the barbecue in the background.

Here you can see the fence line. The fence is 4 feet high. Just a little more than a foot of fence is visible.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Early Winter Fun!

Dogs just love the snow! It's cold and wet, but when it snows they run around like puppies, all silly and crazy, eating it and rolling around in it. We had our first significant snowfall yesterday, and the dogs were so happy. I took the opportunity to snap some photos of the fun.


Blaze and Cole,

Blaze, Eros, and Cole, chomping on the drainage tube...

Cole, with his piece of tubing...

Eros, checking to see how close Cole is! (he's got a piece of plastic drainage tube in his mouth, who knew these tubes would make such fun dog toys?)

Early Winter Fun Con't

Eros, with a piece of plastic drainage tube around his face, with Cole and Blaze in the background,

Eros, and Cole,

This is a great action shot, Cole is chasing Eros around the yard to try and grab the plastic tube, dogs love this game!


Sara, with Cole in the background,

Early Winter Fun, Con't


Cole, barking at Arlo, with Blaze in the background,

Cole and Blaze, best buddies,

Tess and Sara, they prefer to watch the fun from the sidelines!


Friday, November 2, 2007

Eros - Wild Puppy in Training

Eros has been training in the sport of Schutzhund since he was 5 months old. I try to train regularly, but with my super busy life, we are a little behind where we should be . Eros is almost ready for his BH test, the Begleithunde. Roughly translated as the "traffic steady companion dog". This test is the preliminary test required for the dog to move on to SchH titles. The dog must pass both an obedience routine and a temperament test. We are planning to enter a trial in the spring.

Who knew a plastic drainage tube would make such a great dog toy?

What a cutie. :-)

In the spring of this year..... He has filled out considerably since then....

Eros is always happy...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Arlo & Me......

Recently, I needed to do a project for school that consisted of writing a "kids' book" about an animal disease, complete with illustrations. I decided to write the book about Arlo's disease, as I had already done extensive research on the topic. Also, being so important to me, it would seem effortless writing about my dog, whom I love so much. I discovered early on that I cannot draw to save my life! Having quite a nice design for my book, complete with fancy paper and cute accents, I didn't want to "ruin" it by adding substandard drawings..... So, I decided to take digital photos to compliment the text of the book. Once I replaced the almost dead batteries in the camera that caused the camera to consistently malfunction, I actually had a good time setting up and taking all the photos. Arlo was such a good sport, doing what I asked of him, sometimes repeatedly to get just "the right shot". I asked him to do some pretty silly things, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well some of the photos turned out. I'm lucky he already has such a great work ethic....... he'll work for food or a toy.....
So, getting him to do things for me was quite easy.... once he understood what behaviour got him the reward, he was more than willing to do it... even repeatedly. I know that all of my extensive training with him to date helped in the set up of the photos, and I am thankful for that. I'll have to post some photos of the book once I'm finished.....

Good boy, Arlo, good boy. :-) XOXOXOXOXO

Friday, September 14, 2007


It's funny sometimes how a simple quote can inspire you. Quotes will mean different things to different people depending on what is going on in their lives........
When your world seems to be crashing down around you, and you can't do anything to stop it, and you worry what could possibly go wrong next, here's a little phrase that may inspire you;

"Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it's the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'"

~ Anonymous

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Eros - Summer Training

Eros demonstrating his calm, full grip on the sleeve..... He is so-o-o-o-o cute!

Taking off for the escape.........

Bark and Hold in the blind......check out the lip!

Taking the bite from club helper Graham.
Many thanks to clubmate Tracy for taking these shots!

Arlo - Diagnosis: Cholangiohepatitis

Arlo: A deer fly landed on his ear and he flicked it off just as I snapped the shot. It's still a great shot, I love the expression on his face.....

On June 26th, 2007, Arlo had surgery at a specialist clinic in Toronto with the hopes of finding one or two liver shunts that could be repaired. What they found instead, was multiple, acquired liver shunts. These type of liver shunts are different than congenital shunts, in that they appear as a result of some primary liver disease or damage. They are most often associated with end stage liver disease. More biopsies of his liver were taken during surgery with the hopes of determining the cause of the shunting. The biopsy results confirmed a diagnosis of Cholangiohepatitis.

The following was taken from this website:

What is “cholangiohepatitis?”

The word cholangiohepatitis breaks down into “chol” (bile), “angio” (vessel), hepat (liver) and “it is”(inflammation). Putting this all together means inflammation of the liver and bile ducts.

You have probably heard of bile ducts but may not really be sure what bile is all about. Bile is a greenish material the liver makes, transports to the gall bladder via small bile ducts. The gall bladder is a small greenish sac about the size of a superball where bile is stored. When the appropriate hormonal signals are present, the gall bladder contracts and squirts bile into the small intestine via one very large duct called the “common bile duct.”

Bile has several functions. It emulsifies the fat in our diets so that we can absorb it into our bodies. It also serves as a medium to dump toxins that the liver has removed from our bodies and processed so they cannot be reabsorbed.

This is a fine system but problems can occur when the bacteria that live in the small intestine venture up the bile duct and invade the liver, which is normally sterile (free of bacteria). Inflammation results and the liver can fail.

To this day, Arlo does not know he is sick. No one would ever guess that he has such advanced liver disease. He appears healthy, happy, strong, vibrant, and full of life. He is 3 1/2 years old. We will never know what caused the damage to his liver. We do not know how much time he has left. Some dogs with liver disease defy the odds and lives years beyond what could have been expected. Arlo's disease can only be managed medically, no other options exist for dogs with this condition. This involves strict attention to diet, and multiple supplements and medications to support the liver. Regular checks of his blood, urine, and abdomen are required to monitor the progression of his disease. I still work him in the sport of schutzhund, although under a modified training regime. He is a high drive, working German shepherd, and needs something to do to keep him happy.

Many, many thanks go out to the amazing staff and Doctors at the Morningside Animal Clinic for their great care, compassion, and love of the German shepherd dog. I wouldn't trust anyone else with my shepherds!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Blaze: AAC Nationals Competitor WOW!

Just got back from 4 days of competition at the AAC Nationals in Halton Hills Ontario. All I can say is WOW! Over 600 dogs competed over 4 days. It was a huge event, well organized, and such a fun and festive atmosphere. Blaze had some of his best runs ever in our agility career...... what a time and place to put it all together, at a national event. It looks like great coaching really pays off. We still have our issues, and the weave poles are definitely something we have to work on! Blaze had 3 clean runs that were under the standard course time. A feat we have never accomplished before at a single event. All 7 of his runs were run with the enthusiasm and motivation that is truly Blaze. This type of harmony between dog and handler is what we have been struggling with for some time. Our first run, the steeplechase, was marred only by the weave poles......he had fun and ran fast.

On Friday we did 3 runs. Our first run of the day was our standard run. He missed the weave pole entry twice, costing us refusals and time faults. After this run, I was doubting whether or not to continue on in agility. I was even doubting we should be at a national event....... I was so frustrated on my way back to to tenting area, I considered giving up competitive agility with Blaze.....
After a few minutes of contemplating this, I sat back and really thought about our run..... Blaze was having a blast out there, he ran the whole course fast, with enthusiam, and motivation..... He never once slowed down or told me he didn't want to do it...... this fact knocked me back into reality and made me realize that he is enjoying himself, what dog agility is all about.

Our next run was the jumpers run, Blaze's favourite event. We ran the course clean and under time, WOW! What a spectacular run. The chemistry was still there. Our final run of the day was the gamlers run. Typically our most difficult event. Blaze was the same enthusiastic, driven dog. It was a great feeling! We even got the gamble, in 9 seconds under time! Truly amazing! It was a great day for us.

Saturday brought on another jumpers and gamblers run. Our gamble opening was spectacular, with Blaze running fast and with lots of drive. We didn't get the final gamble, but it was due to handler error! Poor Blaze! In the jumpers run, I fell near the end, causing Blaze to move past a jump and get a refusal...... it would have been a clean run and under time......he worked great and had fun!

Sunday was the final standard run, it was a tricky, twisty course with lots of traps in it...... it would test all of our training skills..... We ran clean and 19 seconds under time!!!!!!! Simply amazing for me and Blaze, especially since it was the fourth day in a row of competition and he has never been to an event that long before.

It was an awesome weekend of agility, and proved beyond a doubt we have what it takes to compete at a national level. We can only hope to improve our skills, and with great coaching, we have high hopes for next year. I am so pleased with our performance I can't even really put it into words.

It was the experience of a lifetime!

Enjoying the moment,
Dianne & Blaze :-)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Blaze: Masters Jumpers Dog of Canada

Blaze and his ribbons from the Tamsu Trial, Aug 11th, 2007
Blaze received his Masters Jumpers title today from the AAC. What a way to celebrate his 5th birthday! We did very well at the Tamsu trial, with Blaze receiving a qualifying score in one of his Standard runs, a Jumpers run, and his first Steeplechase "Q". He received 2 first place finishes and a 3rd place finish in the competitive 16 inch veterans class. He would have had a second Standard "Q" ( and his MAD title!) had it not been for handler error on the third last jump.....poor Blaze! Blaze seems to be enjoying his new jump height of 16 inches and the extra time a veteran dog gets. He worked very nice for me, I was very pleased. Things seem to be looking up for us. It's our first trial in 9 months, we took some time off to try and work on our training issues. Nationals are next week! Way to go Blaze!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Here is Blaze and Me with his National Championships Qualifier Ribbon and his 4th place Jumpers Ribbon.June 1st to the 3rd, Blaze and I competed in the AAC Ontario Regional Championships. Blaze qualified to compete at the AAC National Championships in Halton Hills Ontario in August. It was a great weekend, with the best dogs in Ontario competing for a chance to be at the Nationals. These weekends are always somewhat magical, with a feeling of camaraderie, and everyone sporting positive and motivational attitudes.

Saturday's competition was hampered by the extreme heat and humidity, and many dogs and handlers were having difficulty coping. One of our Judges collapsed on Saturday and was taken to the hospital, and recovered fine. Blaze hates running in the heat, and I knew we would have trouble. In our standard run, I unfortunately misdirected him twice, costing us time and 10 faults. Our gamble run was not good, I could tell the heat had got to him, and he just gave up. Our jumpers run was quite good, except I was in the wrong position at one of the last turns on the course, and pushed him right past a jump. This put us over time and gave us 5 faults. My fault entirely. Poor Blaze! We finished Saturday's runs with 178 points, more than half way to qualifying, but lower than what I was hoping for. I was not sure if we would get the necessary 300 points by days end on Sunday.

Sunday started out a little less hot, and virtually no sun, so it felt cooler. Our first run was the gamble run, and our opening sequence went great, with Blaze getting the mini gamble twice, and he stayed with me on the course. He did get the main gamble too, but sadly he was about 1 second over time. I was happy with how he worked for me, and it gave me a good feeling about the days upcoming runs. Our best run of our agility career was our jumpers run on Sunday. It was a twisty, turny, course, in which I was able to use our new front crosses to our advantage. Blaze went clean and 9 seconds under time. This is a feat we have never accomplished before, and this is just the type of chemistry between dog and handler I want to create on a consistent basis. He placed fourth in this run, in a class of 27 dogs. Pretty awesome by our standards. Our final run of the day was the standard run, and I messed him up on the course twice. We ended the weekend with 369 points, enough to get us to the nationals. Blaze placed 12th overall in a class of 27 dogs.

Next, we are off to Halton Hills in August to compete at the Nationals. It will be our first National competition, and it will be a real treat to compete with the nation's best agility dogs.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Arlo - Diagnosis: Liver Shunt

Arlo in May 2007 after his liver biopsy

In late January of this year, we discovered Arlo had elevated liver enzymes. He was treated with antibiotics, a liver antioxidant medication, and retested. The liver enzymes were lower, but still elevated. It was decided that his liver may be healing, and we retested him again. The enzymes were back up. Two weeks later, they were even higher. Not wanting to fool around, we were directed to a specialist for a liver biopsy: the only way to diagnose a liver problem.

At the specialist's, it was suggested he may have a shunt. A liver biopsy confirmed this suspicion in May. I have never heard of liver shunts in the GSD before, and none of the vets I work with in regular practice were suspecting a shunt. None of my shepherd friends nor the long term breeders I know have heard of this in the GSD before. Astonishing.

Arlo will have surgery at the specialist's on June 26th to determine if his shunt(s) is repairable or not. Most large breed dogs have shunts that are not repairable. The odds aren't good. Many dogs are managed medically with liver shunts, some with normal lifespans. However, if his is the repairable kind, his liver can actually regrow, and he can be a normal dog. His liver is only about 1/3 the size it should be for a dog of his size.

You would never know this dog has liver disease, as he is healthy and active and in good shape. My suspicion is that liver shunts are more common in the GSD than we know, yet many dogs are just never diagnosed.

The good news is that Arlo is in the hands of a specialist who sees more GSDs than any other in Ontario. Very comforting.

I only hope this surgery doesn't leave him in worse condition than he is in right now.

For more information on Liver Shunts, please see this site: What are Portosystemic Shunts?

Friday, April 6, 2007


Poor Eros, he is only 17 months old, and he has already had two visits with the vet to induce vomiting for foreign body ingestion............... Interestingly, neither of these episodes were related to my own negligence,

Both incidents happened while he was at work with me, in a veterinary clinic!
The first incident involved the thorough shredding of a coworker's coat and package of new cigarettes and subsequent ingestion of said coat and unknown quantity of cigarettes.............. With the help of some apomorphine, we got the coat and tobacco out pretty much right away.
Today, I arrived at work with a 6 foot X 1 inch leather leash......... at the end of my shift, it was a 14 inch X 1 inch leather leash..............The rest was missing, supposedly in his stomach. We decided to make him vomit to see if we could get some of it out. Approximately 1/3 of the leash came out, but the rest is still in there we are presuming.................

Both incidents were innocent mistakes, how could my coworkers know that my dog likes to ingest weird objects? Poor guy, I feel so bad for him, I just hope the rest of the leash passes without incident, he did break it up into small pieces.................

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

BCC House League

This winter, Blaze and I participated in an Agility House League where we normally train for agility. It consisted of 1 day once a month, with you and your dog running 3 fun agility runs. We were on a team with 5 other dog/handlers. The team's collective scores determined the final placements. There were 5 teams in total. We had many new dog/handler teams participating in the house league, and it was great to see so many new handlers out there. I remember what it was like to be a new handler! My team was great, with 4 new handlers. All of our team members showed up for all events, and all of the new handlers did awesome! I was very impressed to see such great handling and attentive dogs. They will make some great dog/handler teams once they start competing. Overall, our team "The Underdogs", came in second place. What a great event. There were great prizes for all the competitors, and we ended the house league with a fantastic pot luck lunch. I hope the summer house league is as much fun!

Blaze and his second place ribbon.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Winter Gets Me Again


.........................THE YARDMAN SNOWBLOWER

Who would've imagined that a machine designed to HELP you would cause you so much grief! The snowblower really only has one job........move snow. If you can get the thing started without giving yourself a heart attack from stress, then all you have to do is point it in the direction of the snow, right? Well, things really aren't that easy. I can't believe what a hard time I had trying to clear some (a lot) of snow out of my driveway. That's two hours of my life I'll never get back, and it's a good thing machines aren't sensitive about being called various derogatory names repeatedly...................

Thursday, March 1, 2007

"The Monkey"

Eros. Also known as "The little black monkey" . He runs around all crazy, loves to jump on anything and everything, and goes tearing through the house like a monkey in the jungle. He is mischievous, and gets himself into trouble like a monkey. Because we've had so much freakin' snow, the snow banks around here are huge. Well, Eros figured out that he can jump from one big snowbank inside my property, to another big snowbank OUTSIDE the property, and hence end up on the street!!!!! My heart almost stopped when I realized he was out on the street. Yesterday was garbage day, so he had shredded our garbage all over the street, and distributed the contents of our recycling bins all over the street as well. All before I even realized he was on the street. Then he went to visit my neighbour, who brought him back. I'm lucky nothing happened to him! Immediately after this, I shoveled a wide trench next to the snowbank inside my yard, thinking this would fix the problem. NOPE! He just gets on top of the bank, and jumps clear across the trench, to the snowbank on the other side of the fence (road side). Needless to say, he'll need constant supervision while outside until the snow melts significantly. He also managed to grab hold of and chew my tracking line. That's alright, I really wanted a new one anyway, but couldn't justify it, already having one..........................
Sometimes puppies test our patience, even for the most patient people!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

WINTER: 11 / ME: 0

Winter Sunrise
Total times our mailbox has been taken out by the snowplow: 2

Total times stuck in a snow bank: 2

Total times having to shovel a 50 foot long trench next to my 4 foot high fence because the snow has drifted up to the top and my dogs could literally walk over the top of the fence: 5

Total times one of my dogs has ended up on the street because the snow banks are so high and he just jumped from one snow bank to another: 2

Total times late for school: MANY

Getting to live in a place where I never have to see another flake of snow: PRICELESS!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Winter Fun

You wouldn't believe how much fun a basket ball could be. My dogs absolutely love these balls.......... They puncture them with their teeth so they can pick them up, and love when you kick them and throw them around for them. Deflated basket balls are definitely one of their most favourite toys. Buy them a basket ball and it's as if they've won the lottery they are so happy!

Below, Blaze chomping on the ball, with Arlo and Cole in the background.Arlo, Mika, Blaze, & Cole, with Tess in the foreground.
Arlo attempting to steal the ball from Blaze...........
And he got it..........
Sara with her paw on the ball....."Don't you touch this ball Cole!"

Dreaming of Spring

Here's a Robins' nest I found at the boarder of my property last spring. One of the babies fell out of the nest, and as you can see from the pictures, there was no room to put the 3rd baby back in the nest.

I made a makeshift nest, and put baby #3 as close to the original nest as possible. If the babies are close by, the parents will still care for them. I love the sound of Robins in the spring time. They have one of the cheeriest songs, it's always pleasant to listen to them.

Below - One of the parent Robins is not amused!