Keep on keepin on…

It’s midterms, which means it’s busy. It’s also the first full week that we are free of lockdown from the pandemic and that means agility and scent classes are back on. I’m hoping that we get a good thaw soon and I can break out the tracking gear again, but for now that’s a pipe dream... It’s hard to find a balance, but I’m trying to accept that this may be the new normal in life. 

Breedings have taken place, and we hope to have a litter in mid-to-late April. We will confirm towards the end of March whether the breeding has taken or not. In the meantime, no news is good news. 

Agility Rocks!

I’ve wanted an agility dog for years. It was my not-so-secret goal to breed an agility dog for myself, and with Aussies it shouldn’t be so hard. I started taking classes with Cruiser two months ago and it’s been a blast. He’s smart, quick, and careful. And he’s also an all-around goofball. 

We have been taking classes with Paola at Shake-a-Paw. As with Lee Ann and Crys who teach scent detection, Paola’s philosophies very much jive with mine. We believe in bringing along puppies gently, letting our dogs figure out the questions and giving them time to work through the problems. The focus is on sound training, not sole preparation to competition. Afterall, we love the dog first and the sport second. 

Pandemic Puppies April 18th 2020

I feel like I say this every time, but really, where does the time go!?

I’ve been witness to a lot of breeders making hard decisions the last couple of months. A lot of them are choosing to put aside their litter plans for the foreeable future for numerous covid-19 related reasons. For some this means they won’t get litters on some of their girls ever because they’ve waited too long and this would have been their last chance. Others are choosing to go ahead with their litter plans knowing there may not be a vet to back them and just praying that everything goes okay. I want to stress hard here, these are not easy decisions and it’s not for anyone else to make those decisions for them.

I’ve had a rush of inquiries lately, and I feel it’s because people are home and feel that now is the absolute best time to raise a puppy. Well, it might be, but it also might not be. A few things to think about: 
- How will you socialize your puppy? 

- Are you prepared to train your puppy on your own?

- Will you be able to continue feeding your puppy a quality diet if your food sources dry up?

- Will you be able to access vet care if you need it?

- What happens when you go back to work? 

Life will eventually resume some kind of normal. No one knows what it’s it’s going to look like yet, but at some point we will see return to work and activities of daily living. So what happens then? Is the cute puppy that you bought going to still be loved and cherished as a member of your family, or will you not have time for him or her anymore? I have to tell you, this is one of my biggest fears as a breeder: that my puppies will end up dumped at a shelter and for whatever reason I won’t be able to get them out and into proper homes again. 

I worry that new owners won’t have access to good training supports and won’t be prepared to properly socialize their puppy. With classes cancelled, and trainers not able to work without breaking the law, new homes are having to think outside the box of how and where they are going to train their puppies. I recommended to one of my training client families recently to take their puppy - in the crate- in the car to the grocery parking lot when they and their partner went to do groceries. One person stay in the car and cuddle the puppy, and every time someone passes by the puppy gets a cookie. This is passive socialization, building positive experiences to something scary (strangers). This is one small option that people can start to explore with their new puppies, but like I said, it’s going to mean brainstorming and intentional work.

As an aside, something I was speaking about with a Cavalier breeder this morning was that I wonder if we will see a decrease in the amount of reactivity because dogs aren’t being forced to interact in inapropriate situations and manners (ie, dog parks). I’m very interested to see how that aspect will play out.

For now, pet food and supplies are considered essential, so we have access to our chosen foods. This may not last. I’ve been working hard to make space for an extra freezer to get a few extra months of food in, and I’ve also placed an order for a half dozen bags of quality kibble. By the end of May I’m hoping to have eight months of food - regular rations, not breeding - in house for my dogs. I normally keep a month or two ahead at most, so this is a bit of a change.  

Access to vet care is my other big concerns. I have been checking in with my vets weekly since this began. What new restrictions are in play? What resources do they have available? Do they have shortages of pain medication, anesthesia, general medical supplies such as sutures and antiseptics, PPE, etc? These are all factors that will play a big part in my decision to breed a litter or not. My vets have assured me that they will still be vaccinating puppies, but that’s not a written in stone guarentee that they will be able to be there should I need them. Just more to think about in the whole equation. 

There isn’t a wrong and a right here. All I ask is that prospective homes think about the whole picture and not just the cute fluffy puppy. If you’ve thought about it and think you still want a puppy, send an email to the breeder you’ve chosen. If they have an application, fill it out. Be ready for them to grill you; they’re being inundated with inquiries and they’re tired and stressed and they have hard decisions to make. Don’t make them harder.  

I was not made for this weather...

I give you: 

I don’t do these temperatures very well, and consequently neither do my dogs. Being that I have three thirteen-week old puppies in the house… something has to give! I made plans to be home today, and it’s a constant cycle of who goes in and out in what groups. Inside the puppies have bones and toys in their crates, and they’re also loose in the kitchen when I’m in there. I’m back in school, and busy writing papers and studying for tests this weekend but the dogs don’t care about that. Once an hour I take five minutes and take someone aside for a quick training session. I’m ready for a break, and they’re ready to engage their brains. 

Tomorrow is Cian’s scent class, and I’ll probably bring one of the puppies with me for the experience. Life is busy, but it’s never been more exciting! 

Our first UKC show!

We decided to try our hand at UKC over the July 13-14 weekend! UKC is so different from CKC; the point system is vastly different, and people are less… stuffy. Lots of comfortable functional clothing around to see, and sensible running shoes for running on hard uneven ground. 

Cian worked hard, putting in his best puppy effort, and came away with the three competition wins, and more than half the points he needs for his Championship. We also got some very nice complements from a Judge. 

I’m proud of my little man, but more than proud of him for how he showed, I’m proud of how he handled the weekend. It was hot, and because I didn’t know how the day would run I had poor Cian on a lead at ringside the whole morning from 9-1 before we found out they were breaking for lunch. We didn’t actually get to go in the ring till close to 3 both days. The second day we knew better and he stayed at the setup until we were about 20 minutes out from ringtime. He travelled well, hung out with me at ringside like a champ, and was just a joy to have hanging around all weekend. 

June 29th, 2019

It’s close enough to July 1st that I’m going to say “Happy Canada Day!” since I will be travelling tomorrow and very busy on the actual holiday.

Please remember, your dog will not apreciate the fireworks, and they may not love the festivities. More dogs go missing this holiday weekend than at any other time all year long. Keep your dogs safe. Use a double door/gate system, give them something to chew and enjoy before the noise and festivities start and they’re too far gone. Use a thundershirt, difuse some oils, put on Netflix and chill with your best buddy. They will thank you in the morning when they’re still safe and sound at home. 

Safe Travels

I made a decision a few months ago that I knew was going to mean some changes for me. When I took my position at work I knew that part of my job was transporting clients, and I couldn’t do that in my Soul. For the first few months I made it work by switching vehicles with my parents, but even that wasn’t exactly going smoothly. I was buying time while I did some research, seeing what was on the market. Finally I had narrowed it down to two vehicles, and I went and did some test drives. There was one clear contender at the end of the first drive. But that wasn’t all I was thinking about. 

I have harped again and again about safe travelling with dogs. Not only are loose dogs projectiles in an accident, but a dog that is wiggling around in your car is a dangerous distraction. * Side Note * I have a good friend who is a police officer, and he has been handing out distracted driving fines to people driving with dogs out of crates in the car if he can see the dog moving in the vehicle. 

I put almost 4000KM a month on my vehicle, 2500KM of that is with the dogs in the car, most of that being highway travel. I had some serious decisions to make when it came to a new vehicle, and one of them was how was I going to contain my dogs? I had Dog-it crates and PetSmart crates as spares, and for regular use I had RuffTough - now RuffLand - crates, but I found they lacked ventilation. The cost of having them - the RTs - customed in the States then shipped was going to be astronomical, but I still wasn’t writing that option off yet. I kept looking, and I kept on coming back to the issue of wanting to be able to see out my back window; something I haven’t been able to do in years! I spend quite a bit of time driving with clients, and I want to know that I’m as safe as possible with them in the vehicle. 

For years I’ve looked at Variocages. I didn’t have room for one in my Soul, but I saw them as a possibly viable option with a larger vehicle if I wanted to keep my back seats avaiable for passengers. Now having the backseats available wasn’t just a want, it was a must with my job! 

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So this is what my setup looks like now! I spoke with Norm at BravePoint Kennels. He listened to my concerns, talked about options I had available to me, and gave me a great deal on both the cage and the drawer. The drawer is quite possibly the best thing ever, allowing me storage space for all my gear that I need for class and basic travel. When I go away for a weekend I still lose at least half the backseat to gear, but that’s a given for any away trip. 

This weekend coming is my first away weekend since I started my new job, and I am so looking forward to it. It’s the PSD trial in Syracuse, and we leave tomorrow morning after I do a caregiver introduction. Today I have to bathe Caoimhe, finish packing my gear, and load up the car. Can’t.Wait!!!

I have been told...

This post is about three products and a half dozen or so tips to manage the summer heat. 

The first, is sunscreen… Just wear sunscreen. Find one that works for you and put it on. Skin cancer is no joke. 

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Ventlocks are the new product that I adore lately. They allow me to walk away from my car with the back hatch open and I don’t have to worry about the dogs. The 24” allows for plenty of airflow through the hatch and windows, and I also give the dogs a shade screen and a fan for their crates. I can also put on their Cool Coats. They stay quite comfortable without having to run the AC. 

Stay hydrated. Yesterday it was stupid hot; 30 degrees before the humidex and that was afer a week of it being 10-14 degrees feeling like 7. It was awful out yesterday, but Cian and I came out relatively unscathed - sunscreen not holding up notwithstanding - because we kept up the water intake. I will often throw some broth cubes in the cooler that I can add to the dogs’ water pail in their crate on really hot days. I want them to keep drinking. 

The dogs love their pool. I have a little splash pool from Canadian Tire that I fill several times a day for the dogs when they’re outside. They love to walk through it, lie in it, and just generally play and keep cool in it. They also use it as their own personal giant water bowl. 

Sometimes I will freeze bones or chicken or turkey necks within big blocks of ice. I’ve also seen some people use their dogs’ favourite toys. It will give the dogs something to do while keeping them cool. 

Cian’s First Points

My brat had a great first weekend out. His first day in the ring he took best of breed over two adult male specials, going on to take a group 4th and a best puppy in group. My little rockstar! 

I haven’t mentioned lately...

I haven’t talked about my job lately, but today is the day. Towards the end of last year I felt like I was in a rut. Work was the same thing day after day. The residents changed - as is the nature of Long Term Care - but when it came right down to it I wasn’t feeling the joy the same as when I started a year before. Then one of my co-workers asked me if I had heard of Nurse Next Door.

Nurse Next Door is a home care company, but that’s where the similarities end with regards to every other home care out there. Minimum 3-hour blocks and dedicated lead caregivers are just a few of the ways they are different; they believe that those that have been blessed with longevity of life deserve to age how and where they wish; they believe in Happier Aging. 

If we remember back to any Psych course we’ve taken, we can remember the importance of self-industry throughout the lifetime. We also know that companionship and communication are vital to our mental health. When clients are aproved for a 45-minute visit and that’s the only person that client has to talk to in a day… that just doesn’t jive with me. I value communication. I value companionship and quality time. I value self-industry. So why was I staying in a job that, though I didn’t hate, I didn’t really love? I was afraid. It took a lot of self-reflection, but finally I decided that what did I have to lose!? So I took the leap! 

I love my job! I have a staff management position that also entails care planning. My official title is Care Designer. A lot of weeks I work double the hours I did at my last job, and I love that. There really is no better thing in life than waking up excited about what you get to do that day. To top it off, I get to work some of my hours from home. I didn’t realize how much I missed having a home office until I got to work in it again. The dogs are happy, I’m happy, and I’m much more productive. 

But, what does all of this have to do with a cute picture of Chaos and I? This morning I left the house early to head to my client’s home. I was just turning onto their road - they live in a rural area - when I saw two young foxes playing in the yard. I pulled over for a few minutes to watch them, and it reminded me to treasure the little moments. 

April 26th 2019 

© Shari Joanisse 2023