Monthly Archives: December 2012

Happy Holidays

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas from CB and Kona.

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Black & White Sunday – 6

Kona in action playing at agility.

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This post is part of the Black & White Sunday blog hop. To see who else has been busy or to join the linky, visit the blog hop hosts  You Did What With Your Wiener, My Life In Blog Years or, Dachshund Nola.

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Winter Tracking Season

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photo credit – Donna Brinkworth

CB’s most favorite reward is to go Tracking and it’s been far too long since we’ve had a chance to get out. When Donna emailed that she was going to be running a winter tracking series of lessons here in Calgary I jumped at the chance to get CB out for a little more work.

Last weekends lesson was on starts. We did scent pads with a short straight track. Part of the lesson was working on how we were going to begin the track if we were in a test situation. One thing I’m working on with CB is to track on the command “Find It” and not letting him track until we are at the scent pad. To be able to do that we are approaching the scent pad from the side.

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photo credit – Donna Brinkworth

It warmed up nicely on Sunday but it was quite cold in the morning while we had our lesson. A couple things that Donna mentioned was with newer tracking dogs you don’t want to be out when it’s too cold as the snow doesn’t hold the scent as well and not to age tracks too long. You can find more information for tracking in the winter on her old blog – you can check it out here.

Well you wouldn’t have known from how keen CB was that it was any harder for him than in warmer weather and on grass. We even crossed a rabbit track and he was so focused on following my track he didn’t even notice. The neat thing about tracking in snow is that you can see your track and CB put his nose in every footprint. Even when we reached the article he still kept on going and followed my path out.  The next lesson is early next month, until then we have a bit of homework to work on.

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photo credit – Donna Brinkworth

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photo credit – Donna Brinkworth

Weekly Photo Challenge – Changing Seasons

One picture just couldn’t show my interpretation of Changing Seasons. The Bow River valley shows the change in seasons not only in the color and amount of vegetation but also in the water levels of the river. High in Spring and Summer, low in fall and winter.

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Douglas Fir Trail and ICEtrekkers

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It is no secret that it’s winter in the northern hemisphere. In Calgary we sometimes get spring in January and snow in August but even though it happens, the norm in December is for sub-zero temperatures. Winter hiking or even just walking around the neighborhood can land you on your rear end if you’re not careful and there can be added implications walking with a dog (as we saw on our hike of Jumpingpound Trail last month) or a child.

We are outside walking CB and Kona regularly and like to spend time on the slopes of Edworthy Park and the Douglas Fir trail even though the access from our house and the trail can be treacherous this time of year. The traction cleats we purchased after the Jumpingpound Trail hike have been very useful keeping us on our feet, so much so that I wish I’d bought a pair of these years ago.

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There is approximately 60 m (200 feet) of elevation from the top of the escarpment to the Bow River valley, and the grade is quite steep along the Douglas Fir Trail as well as on the old trail we use to access the river valley. With the weather we’ve had it’s been icy to boot. I generally don’t write about product but I’ve made an exception with this topic because watching a friend slip on ice and land on their dogs head is upsetting to say the least, not just for them. Fortunately the dog was fine but it highlights how important traction is for safety while winter hiking for our best friends.

We purchased ICEtrekkers traction cleats because we saw someone else hiking in them last year but had forgotten about them until we hiked Jumpingpound Loop. ICEtrekkers makes three kinds of traction cleats; Spikes, Chains and Diamond Grips. We purchased the Diamond Grip cleats even though they were the priciest of the three ($44.99 CDN) as they looked to be the most versatile.

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In lieu of chain or spikes, the cleats are comprised of pointy metal beads that rotate to keep them free of ice and snow. With these cleats we had no issues slipping on the ice and the usually treacherous stairs on the Douglas Fir Trail were surprisingly not so.

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There are plenty of companies making winter traction cleats and there are better price points than what we purchased. Ideas have come a long way – these are definitely not the “rubbers” your Dad used to wear. Anything that will keep our buddies safe is a good thing and it’s unfortunate that we had to experience what we did to be motivated to buy a pair.

The only negative I have with the ICEtrekkers is that they were a little tough to pull on as they fit quite tightly – but I guess that’s a good thing as you don’t have to worry about them falling off on you and being hung on tree or fence post by a fellow hiker like we saw with this one.

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CKOC Trial Results

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The fall was so busy and as I have been focusing mostly on Agility with CB and Obedience with Kona we haven’t been available to enter a Rally-O trial in months, never mind practice for one.

So as the deadline approached for the Calgary Kennel and Obedience Club closing date, and there only being one Rally trial, I thought WTH and entered both boys. CB was entered in Excellent A and Kona in Advanced A. And with how distracted Kona was at the AKC trial in the summer, I also entered Kona in a Pre-Novice run just to get him in the ring with the Judge on-leash so he would be more comfortable for our Rally run the next day.

The Obedience Pre-Novice we entered was the Saturday, and it would seem that I made a good decision. I’m kind of surprised how well Kona did since we aren’t very polished yet and he is not as “on” in the ring as he is even on the show grounds. He will need quite a bit more confidence building before he’s ready for Novice but we’re getting there. He wasn’t as focused on me during his heeling as he usually is but he did quite well and surprised me for the sit for exam by staying put for a very tall Judge – Michael Calhoon. Kona’s recall was excellent and he had all passes to that point. The last was the group sit-stay. He sat very nice and attentively and didn’t move, but the stinker laid down as I was returning and before the exercise was finished. Doh.

Honestly I was a little sad at the time to not Q because he exceeded my expectations, but my reality check is that I didn’t enter this to get a Q in Pre-Novice. I entered this for confidence building and to get the Q in Rally. Which is what we did. Kona did quite well despite the trial distractions and we ended up with a score of 90 and his second leg for the Rally Advance title. He did have a moment where I lost his attention but altogether it was a good little run. Yay for Kona.

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Kona is first dog on the list for Advance A since he has just a low jump height.

Now CB hasn’t trialed in Rally since Evelyn Kenny in July, I wrote about it here and the outcome of that trial had me thinking that I should leave it for a while. I hadn’t been planning to enter this trial so we hadn’t practiced any Rally until the week before. I don’t know what happened but it was like a light-bulb went on for him with the break in Rally training. Some exercises that were painful to train, such as the back-up three steps and the stand on command a few months ago, suddenly stuck. And his stays improved too.

I went into the trial with him quite hopeful but practice is practice and trials can be very different. Looking at the course map I was pleased to see some exercises that CB has become very proficient at like the moving stand, pivot left and moving down, but there was a back-up three steps which we’ve only been successful at twice before in a trial. I have found CB does better the less “warming-up” we do before Rally – but I couldn’t help myself and had to check to see if he would back up on signal. He did, and then I thought lets just make sure and we did a few more. I may have over done it – he didn’t back up for our run but even with the 10 point deduction we got a score of 81. With the completed Honor, it’s the second leg for his Rally Excellent title.

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We weren’t first up for once! And look at those amazing Excellent B scores.

The Excellent A class was only three dogs which guaranteed CB a big ribbon with a Q. He had the lowest score but was still Third in Class. That’s a pretty good result considering we barely practiced and that I entered on a whim. Hopefully I can control my compulsions and not over work him the next time he’s entered in Rally. Now we need just one more Q for that elusive Excellent Title.

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Here we are with Judge Michael Calhoon and CB’s pretty ribbon. It’s so easy for me to forget how tiny CB is as he’s a little on the big side for a pom. He looks pretty small next to the Judge don’t you think?

Black & White Sunday – 5

CB and Kona taking a little rest on the Douglas Fir Trail.

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This post is part of the Black & White Sunday blog hop. To see who else has been busy or to join the linky, visit the blog hop hosts  You Did What With Your Wiener, My Life In Blog Years or, Dachshund Nola.

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Jumpingpound West Loop

Early in November we joined a group of friends to go and hike Jumpingpound Loop Trail with our dogs. We did the west arm which is approximately 5km in length (the full loop is about 9km) and we took Kona along with us.

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Jumpingpound Loop Trail is part of the Sibbald Recreational Area and can be accessed by driving west on the Trans-Canada highway and exiting onto Highway 68 (Sibbald Creek Trail). The trail can be accessed from the Pine Grove Day Use Area – the gate was closed for the season so we parked on the road and hiked in to access the trail.

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Map of Sibbald Creek recreational area from http://www.albertaparks.ca

As is typical of this time of the year the trail conditions were quite icy from an early snowfall followed by some milder weather and a freeze. The hike took us a little bit longer than usual for this length of hike due to how icy the conditions were, just under an hour and a half. There is a great view of Moose Mountain from the trail and it’s a relatively easy hike despite the conditions that day.

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This trail is popular with hikers all year and mountain bikers in non-snow conditions. Either the full or partial loop would be a nice snowshoe on days where there was enough snowfall. Just a reminder – bear encounters are still possible this time of year so you should be prepared, especially if you are with a smaller group. We found the trail really slippery, even with good winter hiking boots I would recommend making sure you have good traction system on your shoes or thrown in your pack just in case. Seeing one of our friends slip and fall on their dog got us off our rear and we each bought a pair of ICEtrekkers the next day. A fall on a dog as small as a pom could be deadly, we’re lucky it wasn’t us.

Here are a few more photos from our hike on Jumpingpound Loop.

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