Category Archives: Spirit

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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Iron Paws Week 3 Challenge

Since our crash on Sunday I have not been able to do much and now it is getting very cold (-20C and even colder in the evenings) so I doesn’t look like we will get much if any sledding or canicross in this week.  But we rocked this week’s challenge.  We had to take pictures of our team catching popcorn….now this is our kind of challenge!!!

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Wipeout(s)

Kicksledding this winter has been fun but painful.  I’ve had a few spectacular wipeouts.  First run of the season…I made it through the entire run without wiping out.  Got to the parking lot and the dogs took a sharp corner to get to Don and I ended up with one ski caught on a snow pile covering a curb and flipped on my right side. Don was so busy laughing and videoing that he forgot to catch the dogs and the sled as they ran by.

 

Today was my best wipeout ever.  We were 1/2 way through the 4km run at Blackfoot. During a steep downhill run, Spirit stopped to gobble up a frozen ‘poop-sicle” on the trail. The sled caught up to her and was going to hit her so I bailed. Got the tow rope and one of the sled skis tangled around my ankle as the dogs took off running again. Big boo boo and fat ankle. Hope this won’t end my Iron Paws season 💔😟 (and yes that is dog hair all over my socks….can’t vacuum with a boo boo right?! 😂). I am hoping that at least I can get some sympathy points…maybe some spoiling and extra attention from the skinny guy.  A girl can dream?!??!?

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Iron Paws Week 2

This week’s Howliday fun challenge was to play One-eyed-Jack-is-wild virtual poker game.  You have to answer 5 questions and your answers are decoded into poker cards.  Let’s just say we aren’t going to win the game.  You can tell by the dogs’ expressions that we have a really crappy poker hand.

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2019 Iron Paws

Just for a little winter fun and motivation, I have signed up for the 2019 Iron Paws Stage Race.  It is a 6 week virtual sled dog race.  The whole idea is to get you and your dogs out and active and meeting up with local like minded people.  It also includes some fun challenges that you must do each week.

For our first week we have been challenged to create a magazine cover featuring our team.  This is what I came up with:

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We accumulate points by participating in races, going on group training runs and participating in regional events.  As long as we do at least one run per week we should earn a medal at the end of the 6 week program. The real reward is the time spent and memories made with your dogs.

Sometimes it can be hard to keep motivated during a cold Alberta winter so I am hoping this virtual race and meeting up with other Kicksled/canicross/skijor/bikejor teams will keep us going out and about.

To start our New Year off on the right foot and accumulate our first points, the dogs and I did the Running Room 5km Resolution run as a canicross team.

2019ResolutionRun

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We got SDDA mail

We received two new official titles in the mail today. Brodie got his SD-MACH (Sporting Detection Master Champion) and Spirit got her silver level SD-E (Sporting Detection Excellent Title).  They sure love this sniffing game. So proud of my “kids”.
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SpiritSDDA-SD-E

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Happy 4th Birthday Spirit

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I can’t believe that she is 4 years old already.  Time continues to fly by too quickly.  Our girl has had a good year.  She earned both her Rally Novice and Intermediate titles as well as her Sporting Detection Excellent title.  So proud of her.

Here’s a trip down memory lane:

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One more sniff for 2018

When we finished our last trial in October I thought that would be the end of our 2018 season but I was wrong.  When I saw the premium for the K9 Scentinels trial in Surrey BC, I just knew we had to enter.  The best dog teams in our sport were going to be there and we would have the opportunity to trial along side them and learn so much.  Traveling through the mountains at this time of year can be very treacherous but we were lucky and had great weather both ways.  It is very rare to be able to see the top of Mount Robson…it is usually hidden in the clouds.

Brodie only needed one more Q in Excellent Interiors so I entered him both Saturday and Sunday hoping that he would pass one of them and earn his Master Championship.  I also entered him in Elite for both days but we didn’t get a spot on either day.  We ended up first on the waiting list for Saturday and 3rd on Sunday.   Spirit has been “off” on scent work lately so I did not enter her at all.  A few days before the trial we got the great news that someone has cancelled on Saturday so Brodie would get a chance to do an Elite run.

For Excellent Interiors you have 15 minutes to search 3 rooms.  One will have 1 hide, one will have 2 hides and the other will be clear.  You cannot leave a room until you call it clear or finished.  As luck would have it, Brodie passed his Excellent run in 2 minutes and 40 seconds and earned his Master Championship on Saturday.  K9 Scentinels made a video of each dog’s run and shared it with us after the trial (thank you!).

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Since Brodie didn’t need his run on Sunday, K9 Scentinels allowed me to substitute Spirit in for him and switch it to Exteriors.  I was so proud of Spirit.  She worked her little heart out (slow and steady) and not only got high in trial but she earned her Excellent Title.   Here’s Spirit’s video  It was early Sunday morning,  -2C and the whole search area was on a steep frosty covered hill (concrete and grass).  There were 3 hides.

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We ended up getting the opportunity to run Elite on both days.  Elite is so much harder than all the previous levels combined.  There are an unknown number of hides, you have to deal with converging and pooling odour and it is a real head game for the handler.  Unfortunately not a single team qualified in Elite either day.   I was so hoping to see history made and witness the first team ever to earn their Elite Championship or Grand Master Championship.  There are two teams that just need one more elite title to reach both of these milestones.

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Kicksledding Team???

After Brodie’s learn to pull class last weekend, I had planned to take the dogs out this weekend and introduce Brodie to a kicksled and then if things went well, connect them to the kicksled as a team.  Mother Nature actually cooperated and gave us a good dump of snow yesterday, so rather than pulling the sled on grass they got to work in the snow with me riding and kicking behind them.  We didn’t get much speed or distance but it was a decent first effort.

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Champion Sniffer

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We went to the Canine Coaching SDDA trial in Bowden Alberta this weekend. We drove  down on Friday so that we wouldn’t have to get up at 4am on Saturday morning in order  to get to the trial on time.  That turned out to be a good choice because when we woke up Saturday morning and looked out the window of our hotel room we saw a freezing winter wonderland.   It would have been a scary drive.  I’ve never practiced in a snow storm never mind trialed.

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Neither dog titled on Saturday but Spirit got a 2nd place in Advanced Working Containers and Brodie got a first place in Excellent Working Containers and was the only dog to qualify in that component.

Sunday was an amazing day for Brodie. I am so incredibly proud of my boy. He just loves this game of Scent Detection. He earned his Excellent Working Title with a 2nd place in Containers, 1st place in Exteriors and a 3rd place in Interiors. We finished 1st place overall.  With a total score of 194/200 we earned our second gold level title.

But the good news doesn’t stop there. Brodie earned his Scent Detection Championship, a beautiful ribbon and beautiful swag. I have to remind myself that he is only 19 months old and he has already accomplished so much. I checked the latest title stats (updated as of 2018SEP09) and determined that as of that date, there have only been 6 Goldens who have earned their Scent Detection Champion SD-CH title so far.  When they have them updated I will check again and confirm if he is the 7th.

We got so many compliments on how amazing he was for such a young dog and how well we work together as a team.  Those compliments mean so much more to me than any title we have earned.

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Spirit came so close to titling on Sunday but we just missed on the exterior component.  We qualified in containers with a 3rd place and she finished first in interiors.

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On the more humorous side, on Saturday Brodie and I got an extra special fun ribbon for “Sassy Handler” because his Mom let out an expletive during one of our searches.  On  Sunday we got another special ribbon for “Most Dramatic” because I was so excited when we completed our final component and I realized that we had earned our Championship….I rolled around on the floor with Brodie and smooched him up.  And believe it or not, Spirit and I also got one of the “special” ribbons for “Epic Fail” when we NQ’d on our Exterior search on Sunday.  They didn’t hand out that many “special” ribbons but somehow we managed to snag three of them.  Crazy handler.  There was a lot of laughing and a good time had by everyone.

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Cowichan Valley K9 Noseworks Trial

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On the weekend we participated in the Cowichan Valley K9 Noseworks scent trial on Vancouver Island.  Brodie had a great day on Saturday,  He qualified in both Excellent Amateur Interiors (2nd place) and Containers.  With those 2 qualifiers he earned his Excellent title.

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Spirit struggled a bit but she qualified in Advanced Working containers with a 2nd place.  We were really thrilled to learn that we were chosen as the Judge’s favourite team.

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Sunday was complete opposite of Saturday.  Spirit qualified in all 3 components and earned another Advanced Working Title.  She also got a first place in containers and once again we were chosen as the Judge’s favourite team (different Judge).

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Brodie didn’t qualify in any of his runs.  Our exterior search was particularly interesting.  He was so focused on whatever scents were in the environment that he completely ignored me for the entire 5 minutes before we timed out and were disqualified.  The Judge and her assistants were in tears from laughing so hard watching me trying to get Brodie to engage with me.  I had a good giggle when I was given my score sheets and saw the Judge’s comments……

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Thank you to CWV9 for hosting a wonderful.  A big thank you to Judges Jane Book and Kathy Hansen and all the wonderful volunteers.

 

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Another Scent Title for Spirit

This morning I was awake at 4am to get ready to drive to Red Deer to compete at the Little Nose That Knows/Canine Coaching SDDA trial.  The trial was held at the Sunnybrook Farm Museum.  We are so lucky that businesses like Sunnybrook support SDDA and allow us to hold trials there.  Both Brodie and Spirit competed today.  Running two dogs at the same trial can be a little hectic but I was very lucky because their searches didn’t overlap today.  This was Spirit’s first trial in almost a year.  We had to cancel several trials earlier this year because she was having trouble with her eyes.   I was a little nervous since we had been away from the sport for so long but she was a wonderful.  She qualified in all 3 components and got her advanced working stream title.  She came in first in interiors with a perfect score of 80/80, second in containers with a 57/60 and got a 50/60 for her exterior search . The icing on the cake was finishing first place overall in the advanced working stream. So proud of my girl.  With an overall score of 187/200 she earned a Silver title.

Not wanting to be outdone by his big sister, Brodie had a smokin’ day at the trial too. He Q’d in both excellent containers and exteriors. He would have got his title with SP designation but his Mom got too excited and called the alert too quickly on the last interior room search.  If I had waited 2 seconds longer I would have been able to tell the judge exactly where the hide was instead of being off by a few inches. For only 18 months old he just rocked it.  It was a tough trial and no one earned their excellent title.  We were thrilled to find out that we placed 2nd in containers and first in exteriors and we were the only team that qualified in exteriors.

Thank you to all the amazing volunteers, Judges Paul Dyer and Ryan-Ann King Smith and to Little Nose that Knows and Canine Coaching for hosting another great trial.

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Rally disappointment but good lesson learned

Not a good day for us in the Rally ring. Although we have practiced, we have never trialed in an outdoor ring before. Both dogs were completely distracted. All they wanted to do was sniff and explore. A very embarrassing and humbling experience. Between the morning and afternoon trial I spent some time walking each of them around and letting them sniff everything and meet people. They were a little more focused in the afternoon but still quite distracted. Spirit managed to squeak by with a 72 (a very generous judge) and get her first Q in advanced rally. I know that I have a lot of work to do so that both dogs find being with me more rewarding than all the distractions in a trial environment. I learned a big and very valuable lesson.

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Another sniffing Saturday

We made another trip to Red Deer today to compete in a scent trial hosted by the Little Nose That Knows. Brodie had a great day in his advanced trial coming in 2nd in interiors and vehicles and finished first overall. He got lots of ribbons and swag. Thank you to Judges Ryan-Ann King-Smith and MaryAnn Warren and to Kristina Sveinson and Samantha Freschette for all their hard work organizing the trial.

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Puppy enrichment day

Spirit and Brodie had a nice off leash run and swim today. Unfortunately that also meant they both had to have a bath because they were filthy and smelled like “swamp thing”.

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NACA 2018

This weekend both Brodie and Spirit competed in Rally Obedience at the Northern Alberta Canine Association (NACA) trial. I’m so proud of both of them.  On Friday Brodie got his third qualification for Rally Intermediate and earned his title.  He is now known as Copppermoon Lighning Bug CGN, RI, SD-S (SP).  We moved up to the Advanced level for Saturday and Sunday.  That means he now competes off-leash and there are toys and food used as distractions on the course.  Both kryptonite for my boy.   The second day he spotted the food bowl and squeaky toy while we were still sitting and waiting to start our run.  I knew I was in for trouble.  A few seconds into our run he took off and ran and got the squeaky toy.  Very proud of myself.  I called him back to me and asked him to give me the toy and thank goodness he did.  The audience was in stitches.  I think I earned brownie points when I put him in a down stay and walked across the course to put the toy back where it belonged.  He held the stay and then we resumed the course as if nothing had happened.  Little brat!  He completed both runs successfully and earned 2 qualifications towards his advanced title.  Sunday was also the Golden Retriever Specialty.  I was so surprised when the ring steward gave us an  an extra ribbon (green) and a beautiful leather leash from the Golden Retriever Club of Alberta for high score in a rally trial.  Here’s my handsome boy with all of his swag and a closeup of his new leash.

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Not to be outdone by her younger brother, Spirit also had a great weekend.  On Friday she got a perfect score of 100 for a high in trial in her first ever Intermediate run.  On Saturday she was working towards another perfect score but was spooked when a dog in the adjacent ring doing obedience, ran towards us.    We lost 2 points because she got scared and ran to the end of the leash.  I was so thrilled with her.  She has a history of being reactive and very uncomfortable around other dogs but she didn’t bark and she recovered so quickly and finished the course in style.  So proud of how she handled herself.  In her final run on Sunday she got a 97 and a 4th in trial.  That means she earned her Intermediate title and is now known as Tailspin’s Winter’s Spirit RI   SD-A.

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A very big thank you to Judges Gail Carroll and Shawn Kelly.

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First CKC Title For Spirit

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We spent this weekend at the Battle River Canine Association rally obedience trial in Camrose. I signed Spirit up just to give her some experience in the trial environment. She can get anxious and reactive around other dogs so I wanted her first trial to be somewhere relatively close to home giving us the opportunity to just take her home if she was overwhelmed. She amazed me. There were only minor signs of stress and I was able to quickly focus and redirect her. Not only did she successfully complete her trial each day with a qualifying score, she earned her Novice title with scores of 92, 96 and 95. On Friday she also got a ribbon for Second in Class. She is now officially known as Tailspin’s Winter’s Spirit RN . Not bad considering we just finished our introductory rally course a couple of weeks ago. Yahoooooooooo  Thank you to Judges Karen Brearley, Margaret Chandler, Marie-Johanne Cloutier.

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Snuggle Bunnies

BedBuddies

This is a typical morning in our house…although usually Tilly is also snuggling somewhere in the mix.  I have over 150 lbs. of hairy children draped across my body.  Good thing they are comfortable…..who cares if I am.

 

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Xmas morning in the Dog House

This is Christmas morning in our house.  Wally has always been the one to deliver the cards but now Brodie wants to help too.  Gosh I love my fur kids.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

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My Scenting Stars

BrodieStartedSPWe drove to Red Deer today to participate in a Sporting Detection Dog Association (SDDA) trial.  Spirit was entered in the Advanced Working Dog category.   I have been introducing Brodie to scent detection, and since he was coming along for the ride,  I thought I would enter him in the Started category so that he could get some experience being at a trial.  Dogs have to be at least 6 months old to trial so we were lucky that Brodie hit that milestone last week, just in time to participate.  It was a bit of a hectic morning because they decided to run the Started and Advanced at the same time.  Brodie was 10th to run in the Started Division and Spirit was 8th in Advanced.

Brodie had his Container and Interior Searches first.  Just before they called us, Brodie yelped and lunged towards his backend as a wasp bit him.  Poor little guy.  He kept walking in a circle trying to reach the spot, obviously very upset.  The Judges offered to let us take a break and come back later but I decided to just go ahead since this was only a learning experience for him.  To my complete shock and amazement it took him only 8 seconds (3 minute time limit) to find the correct container and we got a score of 29/30 (we lost 1 point for having an inconsistent search sequence).  The Judges were as shocked as I was.  We had a minute to gather our composure and he started the interior component.  Again, he found the hide in only 37 seconds (5 minute time limit) with a score of 39/40 (again we lost 1 point for having an inconsistent search sequence).  I had to run back to the car, drop off Brodie and grab Spirit for her first run so I didn’t have any time to really digest what had just happened.

Spirit did Containers first.  She found the first hide quickly and I got all excited, rewarded her and walked away.  The Judges just stood there staring at me.  After about a minute of awkward silence they said, did you forget that there is a second hide???  Dummy me, having just completed the Started search that has only has one hide, I completely forgot that Advanced has two hides and a distractor.  We got back to searching and Spirit indicated on another container and when I called it the Judge told me she was wrong.  Dang it.  I messed my girl up.  Interesting note, there were 30 dogs in the Advanced category and only 4 found the 2 hides the rest false alerted like Spirit.  Makes you wonder if there was some contamination in the search area.  Spirit immediately moved on to her Interior search.   She found both hides in 1 minute and 7 seconds and we scored a perfect 80/80.

Once again, I ran back to the car, did another quick dog switcharoo and raced backed to do Brodie’s exterior search.  Unfortunately we were late and missed our turn so we had to wait and run last.  The exterior search was comprised of 3 tractors.  The hide was hidden underneath the middle tractor.  It took my amazing little boy only 1 minute to find it (5 minute time limit with another amazing score of 29/30 (I lost 1 point for my handling hindering my dog).  One of the Judges was the founder of the Search and Rescue Dog Association of Alberta (SARDAA).  She was so impressed by him.  She told me I have an amazing, young working dog.  What a wonderful compliment from a very knowledgeable and experienced handler.   I thought Brodie was just going to have a fun play day practicing searching and he ended up get his Started title.  Because we got all 3 components at the same trial, we also get an SP designation (special). And the news only gets better, we actually finished 3rd overall and got a big basket of SWAG.  Last but not least, because we got an overall score of 97/100, our title will be at the gold level.  WOW!!!!!  Big thank you to Judge Jane Book and shadow Judge Mary-Ann Warren.

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Brodie’s haul: Green ribbon for 3rd place overall, 3 qualifying ribbons for containers, interior and exterior, purple Started Level Title ribbon with the SP designation and his basket of goodies.

We had a long wait before Spirit got to do her exterior search.  By then it was very hot and sunny, not good for a big, hairy black dog.  She really struggled.  Dogs can’t scent when they are panting heavily.  We used the whole 5 minutes and she didn’t find the hide.  Even when the Judge told us where it was, it took two passes for her to find it and alert on it.  No worries.  I’m still very proud of my girl. Thank you to Judge Doug Theeft.

Each dog got a ginormous knuckle bone when we got home.

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The beauty of winter

I can’t say that I am a big fan of winter, but sometimes I just have to stop and appreciate the beauty.   We live in the prairies so we normally have very low humidity.  For the last several days we have had lots of fog and hoar frost.  Each day the frost gets thicker and thicker.  Here are just a few pictures I took of the amazing ice crystals:

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Diablo Ninebark flower cluster

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Hydrangea bloom

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Rose hips

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Rose hip cluster

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Jackmanii clematis bloom

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And last but not least,  hoar frost on my big girl Spirit during our walk this morning.  She looks like she has giant white eyebrows.

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Family Moment

I love it when we can start our mornings out on the deck enjoying our morning coffee/tea together.

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Happy Canada Day

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Tilly death stare

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Say goodbye to the Canada Day headband


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Puppy Heaven

Last weekend we went to Patty’s acreage to have some fun and give Spirit a chance to meet some new dogs and people and give her the first real opportunity for an off leash run.  She is a bit of a timid little girl so I wasn’t quite sure how she was going to react.  I was prepared just in case she was overwhelmed and decided to take off in the opposite  direction.  I have to give credit to the power of a group of wonderful dogs.  She was totally relaxed and immediately joined in with the group.  She made appropriate play signals and I never saw any fear or anxiousness in her body language.  It was truly a beautiful thing.  After our walk we all headed inside to enjoy a meal together.  It is wonderful to be able to have a house full of dogs and never having to worry about any dog aggression issues.

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The gang….6 two legged and 6 four legged adventurers (David the missing camera man)

 

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A tired and content puppy

 

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Taking a wee nibble of Boomer’s jowly cheek

 

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Hope and Wally relaxing after a beautiful afternoon outdoors

 

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Did I mention that Spirit was exhausted….

 

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Tilly looking rested and relaxed because everyone took turns carrying the princess….she sure knows how to work a crowd.

 

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Spirit kept trying to lick Wally’s tongue

 

Beautiful, shiny black Hope

Beautiful, shiny black Hope

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Hypothermic Half Marathon

 

HypoHalf2015

Little Spirit came to cheer me on at the start of this morning’s race.  It was a tough one with very icy conditions and a cold breeze.  I did manage to finish tied for fourth and 2nd woman overall but I had a very slow second half of the race.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay for the after race ceremony so I didn’t get my medals.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

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WIP, BOM and a new puppy

It doesn’t matter how many dogs we have had in our lives, I always forget how much work a new puppy is. I’m not sure I will be making my Feb ALYoF goal. By the time I get Spirit settled in my sewing room, it is time to take her out for a potty break. Don and I tag team who is watching her.

I did manage to finish the borders for my Quilts of Valour top. I hope to get them sewn on this week and maybe get the backing finished so that next week I can start on the FMQ before I head back to work on the 23rd.

Thank goodness the Feb BOM is a very quick and easy one so I managed to get it completed. That’s two months in a row….only 10 more to go.
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Here’s a couple of pictures of my sewing room helpers.  I love that Wally is holding a pink stuffy between his paws and Spirit is snuggled up next to him.  The second pictures shows why I can’t get much sewing done.  Spirit is all wrapped up around the legs of my chair so I can’t move it to get up and shift between my sewing machine and iron.  I love that cute, fat belly (you can check out Spirit’s blog here).

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WIP Wednesday @Freshly Pieced

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Welcome Spirit

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Meet our newest family member Spirit.  She is a Bernese Mountain Dog and she will be 10 weeks old on Feb 7th.  We just picked her up tonight and brought her home.   She already has her own blog.  You can find her at LIFEWITHSPIRIT.CA

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