Category Archives: Spirit

Another Games Champion

I just love this big goofy girl. She does not do scent work for the love of the game, she does it because she loves engaging with me and seeing me get so excited when she finds the hide and, well lets be honest here….she has an intense love affair with food. We’ve had more than our fair share of struggles along the way. I used to say that if we could just make it to our championship I would be thrilled. Then it was maybe a Master Champion title was actually possible. With each milestone we reached she showed me she could do it and that I underestimated her. Then came Games. Once again, I sold her short. At best I thought we had a chance of getting our Aerial title but that was it. Yesterday we earned our Games Championship. In so many ways this title means more to me than when her younger “brother’ Brodie became the first dog to earn a SD-GCH. For him it was relatively easy and somewhat expected that he would, at least at some point, get the title. For Spirit this is a real achievement….she actually got 3 Speed Q’s…if you’ve ever watched her search, speedy is not an adjective you would use to describe her style 😉. Moral of the story…..dream big and trust your dog 💜💜💜

She is the first Bernese Mountain Dog to get this title and only the 6th dog of any breed to earn it. If you think about it, that is pretty amazing for a breed that is not associated with scent work. She is now officially known as:

Tailspin’s Winter’s Spirit RI SDIN, SDDA: SD-MACH SD-GCH, C-WAGS: CW-SI

 

Photo courtesy of Ryan-Ann King

Photo courtesy of Ryan-Ann King

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Filed under Nosework, SDDA, SDDA Champion, SDDA Games, SDDA Title, Spirit

We got SDDA Mail Today

Brodie was the first dog ever to earn a SDDA Games Champion Title.  So proud of my little Golden sniffer.  Spirit is one Q away from getting her Games Championship and hopefully she will earn that Q this weekend.

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Mani-pedi Day

What a beautiful late fall day. We are supposed to get up to 11 degrees today. I took this opportunity to give the dogs a good brushing and mani-pedis. They went from polar bear feet to this. We are supposed to get very cold next week 😢😫

This is just a fraction of the fur that I got out of Brodie and Spirit.

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First Snowfall

We had our first snowfall of the season. Brodie and Spirit seemed pretty happy with all the white stuff.

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We Got Lots of Mail

Our mailbox was overflowing with mail for Brodie and Spirit.  Starting with Spirit, she got her CKC Scent Detection Instinct Title (SDIN) and her SDDA Aerial Games Title (SD-GA).

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Brodie received his CKC Scent Detection Novice (SDN) and his Chase Ability Excellent (CAE)

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SDDA Games Aerial (SD-GA), Games Speed (SD-GS) and Games Distance (SD-GD)

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as well as his C-WAGS Scent Investigator (CS-SI).

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Filed under Brodie, CKC Chase Ability Program, CKC Title, CW-SI, CWAGS, CWAGS Title, Nosework, SDDA, SDDA Games, SDDA Title, Spirit, Sporting Detection, Sporting Detection Dog Association

Halloween C-WAGS Style

We spent the day at See-Spot-Run participating in their Pre-Halloween Howler scent detection trial. Both dogs were on their game qualifying in 7 out of 7 runs and we had a great time.

Spirit got two Level 2 and one Level 3 Q which earned her a Level 3 Scent Investigator title (CW-SI).

Brodie also earned two Level 2 and one Level 3 Q. He ran his first Level 4 search and qualified. So proud of both of them. We are so lucky to be able to participate in scent detection under three different organizations with different scents and rules (C-WAGS, SDDA and CKC)

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SDDA Nationals

I am so glad that we were able to combine our family visits with the Sporting Detection Dogs Association’s inaugural National Challenge Cup. We had a blast meeting so many wonderful people,talking dogs and sniffing.

The festivities started on Friday with a lovely wedding. Esteemed Judge Doug Teeft and his fiancé Cathy tied the knot. Their cake was appropriately topped with German Shepherds.

The Games trial came next. Originally I had signed Brodie up for all 4 games but since that time he has earned all 4 titles. I substituted Spirit in the Speed component since she needs two more Speed Q’s to get her title and championship. Since we had already paid, Brodie ran in the remaining 3 games for the heck of it. Spirit nailed Speed and Brodie Q’d in Aerial and Distance (18 seconds WTG).

Then came the Team component. We didn’t have a pre-arranged partner so Stacy Barnett and I partnered up. She wanted to split the areas up and not call a hide until the other dog came in and confirmed it. Since we already have our title I was happy to follow her plan. Unfortunately that ate up a lot of time. We had successfully called 3, Brodie had sourced the 4th hide but Brava couldn’t confirm it so we timed out. Oh so close. In NACSW they don’t have to be as exact as SDDA when they call their hides. Brava was able to say there is something somewhere around here but I had to bring Brodie in to pinpoint the exact location before I was able to call each of the hides. Although we didn’t Q (only one team did) it was an honour and pleasure to search with such a well known and respected participant, Judge and international nose work instructor.

The Nationals started Saturday morning with each team doing 4 searches (exterior containers, interior and 2 interior/exterior combos). In 3 of the 4 searches we found all the hides for full points plus bonus points. We only found two of the 4 hides in the last interior/exterior combo but since we found the two hardest hides we still earned decent points. Our two afternoon searches weren’t quite as successful. We nailed the exterior search but NQ’d on the vehicle search which cost us a maximum of 30 points. At the end of the first day we had 182 points which put us in 9th place overall

Saturday night was the banquet. We shared a table with Jane book and several of her students and had a wonderful evening. There was a very interesting speaker with 40+ years experience training dogs and handlers all over the world. He talked about how scent behaves and how he approaches a search.

Sunday morning we had 3 searches. They upped the ante by reducing our search time to only 2 minutes each. My amazing boy nailed all 3. Watching him work just made my heart sing. How lucky am I that I get to play sports and share my life with this smart, athletic, goofy and handsome boy. I could have gone home at that point completely happy with our performance.

All of a sudden people where hugging and congratulating me and I didn’t know what was happening until I actually saw the official results. Much to my utter shock, we ended up placing 4th overall. Holy cow….completely unexpected.

The top 12 teams got to participate in the finals. The dogs ran in reverse order of score so we were the 9th team to search. There were 2 search areas, 3 hides in each and only 2 minutes per search. We all started fresh with zero points.

I listened to lots of clapping and cheers for the previous competitors. By the time it was our turn my mouth was dry, my palms and forehead were sweaty and my stomach was doing flip flops. We were way out of our league competing against scent work teachers, judges and some of the best in our sport. When I walked up to the vehicle search and saw the crowd of spectators my hands started shaking. Scent detection is usually a solo sport with just you, your dog, the timer and Judge.

Our first search was not stellar. We missed the first hide right at the front corner of the trailer, found the second inside the bed of the trailer and then moved on to the second vehicle. Brodie picked up the odour and worked it back to source but we timed out just as I called alert.

Thank goodness we had a couple of minutes to wait before we started the exterior search. I was able to sit down, stroke Brodie’s sweet soft forehead and practice some deep breathing to try and relax. I told myself to calm down and forget about who else is searching and how many people are watching and judging us. Just focus on my boy and enjoy ourselves. It worked. We nailed all 3 hides. So proud of Brodie. He is the heart and soul of this team.

We ended up finishing in 7th place, way exceeding any of my dreams. We got a lovely ribbon and a bag of swag.

I wish I could have had a do-over on the first search but that’s how it goes. Valuable lesson learned. Forget about everything else and most importantly trust your dog!!!!

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More Games Titles

Games night at the Manitoba Scent Detection Trial is over. Thanks to our awesome Teams partner Michelle and Neuman, Brodie and I got our 3rd Q and earned our Teams Title. I think that makes us the very first to get all 4 Games Titles 🏅🏅🏅🏅.

Spirit earned her Distance Title giving her her 2nd games title. She completely surprised me by earning a Q in Speed. Anyone who has seen her search knows that speed is not her forte….slow and steady is her mantra. We called the last hide with just a millisecond to spare.

Thank you to all the volunteers, hosts Michelle & Diane and our Judge John-Marc Dugas.

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SDDA Games Champion

We had a great weekend at the Alert K9 trial in Pilot Butte Saskatchewan. We started with Games on Friday night. The first component was speed, the only Q Brodie needed for his third Games title and the championship. He nailed it. According to the latest stats as of 2019SEP08, no one has 3 titles yet so he could be the first dog to attain a Games Championship but we won’t know until the updated stats are available. We were lucky to be paired up again with Darla and Jetta in Team which resulted in our 2nd team Q. Spirit ran both distance and aerial and Q’d in both.

Brodie and I did Elite on Saturday and Sunday. Our streak of passing 2 of 3 components continues. So close😉. No teams passed elite either day.

Big thanks to host Christina, her amazing volunteers and Judge extraordinaire Kathy Hansen.

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C-WAGS Back to School Trial

We spent the day at See Spot Run participating in a C-WAGS scent trial. We had a great day sniffing and hanging out with great people. Brodie was entered in three rounds, one Level 2 and two Level 3, and he qualified in all of them. He earned his Level 3 Scent Investigator (CW-SI) title.

Spirit ran in two Level 3 rounds and qualified in both.

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Sniffing Long Weekend

After Spirit’s emergency surgery on Tuesday, we never thought we would be going to Red Deer to compete in the Little Nose that Knows/Canine Coaching Sporting Detection trial.  The Vet said we would be surprised at how quickly Spirit would recover but we never expected to be going to a scent trial 4 days after her surgery.  We waited until 4:30am Saturday morning to make our final decision.  Spirit was happily eating, peeing and pooping so we decided to go so that Brodie could play.

Brodie competed in Elite on Saturday in the biggest group of Elite competitors that I have ever seen.  Unfortunately not only did no team title, not a single team passed even one of the three components.  Sunday was a much better day.  Several teams passed 2 of the 3 components but we were the only team that passed the first two components and had an opportunity to title if we got the third one.  Brodie was doing really well.  He found two hides in the exterior search where there can be 0 to 3 hides.  We had less than 1 minute left in our search and he pawed at a picnic bench and I blurted out Alert so fast….sadly too fast because immediately I knew that it wasn’t a hide it was a distractor.  Lately Brodie has started pawing at distractors (which is his alert at source) so I have been trying to wait to make my call to make so that I can be sure that the rest of his body language also leads me to believe that it is the hide and not a distractor.  It was so disappointing being that close to a title and missing it.  Ironically I think the Judge was even more disappointed that I was.  He came up to me at the end of the trial to tell me what a wonderful partner Brodie is and how well he searches for a young dog. We ended up with a 2nd place in Interiors and a 3rd in containers.

Over the weekend, every time I came to take Brodie out of the car for a search, Spirit got all excited thinking it was her turn.  It broke my heart to see how disappointed she was when I said Brodie’s name instead of hers.

Sunday afternoon we had the games searches.  Brodie was entered in Speed, Distance and Team and Spirit in Aerial.  Brodie passed the Distance search to earn his Distance title but just missed the Speed component which would have given us a Games Championship.  Our partner in the Team component false alerted early in our search so we were done for the day.  The Aerial component was run last.   I went on the walk through to see the search area and discovered that all the hides were hanging up against a wall and they were all at Spirit’s nose height.  I spoke to the Judge and told him about Spirit’s surgery and how she really just wanted to get out and “play”.  I said I would just let her walk slowly by the hides and not worry about passing or failing…just giving her a positive end to a crappy week.  We were the first team.  She strutted down the side of the building wagging her tail and walking with the classic Berner prance.  It was so wonderful to watch her.  To my surprise she went straight to the hide and did a brilliant indication. She was so proud of herself.  It was her 3rd qualifier in Aerial so we walked away with a Title.

Many thanks to Samatha and Kristina for holding the trial, all the amazing volunteers as well as Judges Jean-Marc Dugas and John Mairs.

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What a week!!

We have been on quite an emotional roller coaster this past week. All of a sudden Spirit could not put any weight on her right hind leg. There was no warning, no obvious accident or injury that could explain what happened. Our Vet checked her out and thought that the problem was with her spine. It was likely putting pressure on a nerve. We got pain meds and anti-inflammatory drugs and an appointment to see a Chiropractor. A couple of days later Spirit started throwing up repeatedly and refused to eat or drink. The only time this has ever happened was when she had an obstruction in her intestines almost 3 years ago. We took her to the Vet again and sure enough x-rays showed two masses. We started with barium and X-rays to see if there was any movement of the objects. The last X-ray of the day showed some movement so we decided to take her home for the night and come back in the morning for another X-ray. She had a rough night. It was very clear that she was dehydrated and getting weaker so they decided to do surgery ASAP. They had to make two incisions to remove each object which turned out to be chunks of bone 🦴. They sent me these pictures of her in recovery and one of the bone chunks.

Update 2019SEP03  It has been a week since the surgery and if you didn’t notice the shaved spots on her front legs for the IV’s you would never guess that anything had happened. She is her happy, smiling, tailspinning self again.

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CKC Scent Detection Titles

ShibaCKC-SD1

Yesterday we got up bright and early to drive to Calgary to participate in the Shiba Inu Club of Canada’s Scent Detection trial at the beautiful Spruce Meadows.  It’s a good thing that Spirit went first because the temperature soared to 30C later in the day.  She found the hide in 10.61 seconds earning her Scent Detection Instinct Title (SDIN).  By the time the Novice teams started it was unbearably hot outside.  We started with containers and Brodie had it sourced from the start line so we finished in 8.19 seconds.  By the time we ran the exterior searches, the search area was in full sun.  Thank goodness he found it in 33.54 seconds.  We finished with the interior search inside the barn.  Brodie found the environment very “smelly-licious” and wasn’t as focused as he should have been.  He found the hide in 33.54 seconds.  Only 6 teams passed all 3 searches to earn their Scent Detection Novice Title (SDN) and thank goodness we were one of them.  The majority of the teams failed on the hot exterior search.  It is very difficult for dogs to scent when they are panting so hard.  At the trial 2 weeks ago 20 teams passed the Novice test so the heat really appears to have been a factor at this trial.

Big thank you to the Shiba Inu Club of Canada, the volunteers and Judge Kelley Ladouceur for a great trial.

ShibaCKC-SD2

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Spirit Got Mail

Just getting caught up on our mail and found all of these titles that Spirit has earned recently in scent detection/nosework.  She has been a busy girl.

SpiritSDDA_SD-CH
SpiritSDDA_SD-MACH
SpiritCWAGS_CW-SD

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Who’s bed is it?

Is it any wonder that I don’t sleep well 😉😂🐾🐶🐶🐶❤️❤️❤️

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Busy Trial Weekend

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Photo Credit:  Bev Holoboff

On Friday night we braved pouring rain, thunder and lightning so that Brodie could participate in a CKC Chase Ability run. We didn’t get home until almost 10pm and didn’t get to sleep until closer to midnight by the time we had unloaded and reloaded the dogs.

Our alarm went off at 3:15am so that we could drive to Calgary for Spirit to compete in the first CKC Scent Detection trial in Alberta. Her first two runs were perfect. On our third run we heard the dreaded “I’m sorry”. She has a bad habit of alerting at the fringe of odour rather than following it back to source. Too bad, we headed back to Edmonton with 2 qualifying ribbons but no Novice title.

Sunday morning we were up at 6am for a 45 minute drive east of the city to attend the final day of the ALCA speed demons trial. Brodie ran 2 Sprinters and 1 CAP. He managed to get two new personal bests on his Sprinters. He is the fastest male Golden Retriever in Canada running 42.33 km/hr. There is one female Golden who is faster than him at 42.5 km/hr…..so close!!!

At the end of his last Sprinters run he slid through a muddy slough and came out looking like this

Brodie qualified in all 4 of his runs this weekend.

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Another CWAGS Title

Today we spent another great day at See Spot Run competing in Brodie’s 3rd and Spirit’s 2nd C-WAGS trial. Brodie did two Level 2 and two Level 3 runs and Q’d in all 4.

Spirit did two Level 2 runs which gave her her 3rd and 4th Q to earn her Level 2 Scent Detective Title CW-SD.

Thank you to Anneli of See Spot Run and Judges: Robbi Bitner and Dana Gallagher.

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Master Champion

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Just 2 weeks ago I was blogging about how proud I was of Spirit for getting her Championship. Well she has taken it to the next level. I am over the moon proud of her for earning her Sporting Detection Master Championship this afternoon at the Alert K9 trial.  I was so nervous before we started our Exterior search.  Christina, the trial host, gave me a big hug and told us we could do it … and we did!!  Spirit is just the 2nd Bernese Mountain Dog to reach this level.  When I called the final alert the Judge hesitated and my heart sank. Then he gave me a big smile and said Yes!  He enjoyed messing with me for a few seconds. I burst out with a big yahoo and gave my girl a big hug and a handful of treats. I have to admit that I had a few tears in my eyes too.  Just for a little icing on the cake, we also competed in the aerial and distance games and she Q’d In both.

In just love how she is looking at me in this picture10221BB7-3EBB-45E2-A1A1-40C17444A038

 

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Our 2nd Champion

This past weekend we went to Red Deer to participate in the Little Nose that Knows SDDA scent trial.  Mother Nature did her very best to make the weather conditions as miserable as possible.  Despite that, Spirit got her much needed Excellent Exterior search component to finally earn her Championship.  It has been a real struggle and I’m so proud of her.  Not only did she get her beautiful ribbon, but a bunch of swag as well

Many thanks to our host Kris and the all the wonderful volunteers.

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CWAGS Title

We attended our 2nd CWAGS scent trial today. It was hosted by Anneli Hilton of See Spot Run Doggie Daycare and Training Inc. Brodie earned 2 more Level 2 Q’s which earned him his first CWAGS title of Scent Detective CW-SD. He was far less distracted by the environment this time.

208019EF-8CB1-4F5F-90D5-DECBDD0F9172Spirit participated in her first CWAGS trial. See qualified in both of her runs with very focused and thorough searches. Very proud of my girl.

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Iron Paws Medal

Well it’s official. We received our 2019 Iron Paws medal today for the 2 dog sled category. Even though the weather wasn’t the greatest (damn Polar Vortex), we really enjoyed the challenge. Looking forward to doing it again next year.

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Tracking Anyone?

Spirit and I spent the weekend in Red Deer and Olds taking a tracking seminar with Donna Brinkworth of Spiritdance Tracking. We had a blast and learned so much. I can’t wait to get out with her and practice what we learned.

Our last track ended with a bit of a funny blooper. Spirit stepped on an upside down discarded plastic food tray and her foot went through it and it got stuck. She handled it like a pro and didn’t let it phase her.

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100 By Summer Dog Walking Challenge

Yesterday was the first day of spring and the first day of the 100 by Summer Dog Walking Challenge.  The idea is that between the 1st day of spring and the 1st day of summer you and your dog(s) walk 100 miles.  This is the 4th annual challenge but the first one that we participating in.  Day 1 finished and we logged 6.5km. There are still a few days left if you want to sign up.

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2019 Iron Paws video

The official video from the 2019 Iron Paws race. There is a picture of Brodie and Spirit at 2:07, Spirit and I at 2:37 and my wipeout at 4:07.

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Day 1 of Canine Coaching Trial

Tilly photo bomb

It was a great first day at the trial. Both dogs did so well. Brodie went first in Elite. We started with exteriors…darn cold and windy exterior search. The area was also full of dog pee, it was an incredible challenge to keep Brodie from responding to the pee-mail. We managed to qualify and finished 2nd. Containers went really well and we finished in 2nd place again. Then came the dreaded interior search. Brodie narrowed in on the scent quickly but his silly partner jumped the gun and called the alert too quickly. If I had just waited 1/2 a second I would have been able to give the judge the exact location when I heard the dreaded “where?” Instead I was off by a couple of inches. There is so much added pressure when you have passed the first two and know that you need the 3rd component to title. Hopefully tomorrow I will remember to stop and take a breath before calling alert.

Spirit ran in Excellent. We started with the container search which she passed and finished 2nd overall. Then came our interior search. We had 3 rooms to search, two of which where bathrooms. She was very uncomfortable going into the stalls in the men’s bathroom. By the time we got to the ladies bathroom she was shaking and dropping to the ground in fear as we approached the first stall. I did my best to comfort and encourage her. This is the first time she has shown any fear in a bathroom. Thankfully we made it through all three rooms and finished 1st overall. Now the pressure was on. If we passed the exterior search she would not only earned her excellent title but her Championship as well. Alas it was not to be. She alerted on a shoe and we heard the heartbreaking “no'”. We later learned that the first 4 dogs all falsely alerted on the same shoe. We still have tomorrow to hopefully pass the exterior component and earn the titles.

We, or should in say I earned one more title…..”most dramatic”. When I got over the disappointment of Brodie missing his elite title because of my mistake, I blurted out “yeah that means we don’t have to search the urinals”. Turns out the joke was on me. In Spirit’s trial, not only did she have to search the men’s bathroom but also the women’s.  The judge even put a hide on top of one of the urinals. No face smooches for her until I can scrub her muzzle. YUK!!

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Iron Paws Wrap Up

Well my first Iron Paws has come to an end.  We did pretty good considering we got very few points over the last two weeks because of the damn polar vortex.  Overall we finished 75th out of 296. In the 2 dog sled category we finished 7th overall.  The Edmonton Regional Group finished 12th overall and Team Spirit came in tied for 2nd place in our region.  It was great to meet so many people in our area that love to get outside and play with their dogs.  I definitely plan on doing another Iron Paws.

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Polar Vortex sucks!!!

It has been almost 2 weeks since the dogs have been able to go outside for anything more than a potty break or a brisk 1km sprint. I can’t remember the last time we had such an extended cold spell. And the wind makes it even worse. Sadly we recorded no mileage or points for the final week of Iron Paws. It looks like there might be a slow improvement in temps coming in the next week.

Finally got the dogs out for a quick off leash run. They were so happy to stretch their legs and run free.

Because of the cold, I am falling behind in my training for the 1/2 corked marathon. I forced myself to bundle up and head out for a brisk 4km this morning. The temp with the windchill was close to -40.

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National Sled Dog Day

February 2nd is National Sled Dog Day. Unfortunately it is way to cold today to go for a kicksled run (-33C with the wind chill) so I have to use pictures from a couple of weeks ago. I played with a few filters to jazz them up a bit.

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Iron Paws Week 5 Challenge

This week’s Howladays challenge is to show you and your dogs relaxing and enjoying a movie together. Unfortunately it is hard to fit all three of us on our love seat but we tried.

 

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Iron Paws Week 4

This week’s Howladays challenge is a little different.  It says  “Stage 4: Heroes week. Feel free to interpret this however suits your fancy, and don’t forget to share your vision.”  I am not sure that hero is the right word but these dogs are my world.  They mean everything to me.  Before Brodie and Spirit I had never done any dog sports.  Now our lives revolve around driving to various classes, practices and trials.  They make sure that I get out and about every single day.  They give so much but ask for so little in return.  They may not be “heroes” in the traditional sense but they are my heroes.

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