As 2010 begins and we say good-bye to 2009, I am reminded of the many dogs lost in the past year. 2009 was a rough year for dog losses. I personally have lost four dogs since last February …. three of which were too young to go. And many of my friends also lost dogs in 2009 … and many, like mine, were too young to be passing on. Disc dogs; flyball dogs; agility dogs; and family companions all now residing at the Rainbow Bridge. There were far too many losses. Too many good-byes.
For those of us with multiple dogs, our hearts will be broken time and time again. It’s a casualty of loving dogs as we do. And yet, we cannot let go of our passion for dogs. I would like to share a wonderful quote that someone sent to me a few days ago when I said good-bye to my faithful husky, Ranger.
“We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached.
Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way.
We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan” (Irving Townsend)
Good-Bye and Godspeed to all the wonderful dogs who graced this world and the lives of the people who loved them. To all the sport/performance dogs that brought joy to thousands of people. To every dog that brought a smile to a childs face or touched the heart of a lonely person. And to my dogs … Ruffian, Daphne, Buddy, and Ranger ….. my sorrow, like my love for you, runs deep.
2010 is a New Year & time to turn my attention to the youngsters. To take the lessons taught by the dogs who’ve passed on, and honour their memory by applying what I’ve learned to the education of their successors. So here’s to 2010 …. new beginnings, new hopes, and new dreams.
This holiday season started off in a very sad place. On December 8th, one of my border collies, 13yr old Buddy, passed away after a month of illness. And then on Dec. 12th, Chase the beagle, who was adopted through my rescue, spooked and bolted from his new home. We hoped and prayed for a Christmas Miracle … and we got one!
Boxing Day, December 26th, 2009 > 6pm > Chase is found safe and alive!
At a time of year when most people are consumed with Christmas festivities and shopping, this group of individuals took time away from family, friends, parties etc. to give their time to the task of finding Chase. Before work. After work. And sometimes even ‘at’ work …. these individuals tirelessly devoted themselves to a little beagle that they had never even met. Foot patrols walking the streets, parks, and ravines searching for Chase. Others posting flyers … flooding the area with signs that said “Have You Seen This Dog?”. Fifteen Thousand flyers were distributed. And on Boxing Day when most people are out taking advantage of the sales, the Team Chase Search & Rescue volunteers were out at the malls distributing flyers and talking to shoppers … “Have You Seen This Dog?” And volunteers local to Toronto, gave their phone numbers as 24hr contacts in the event that Chase was spotted. It was truly a herculian task. This was truly an amazing group of people & without them, I do not know how I would have coped.
By the time I got there Chase had moved to another backyard but the team had eyes on him and had blocked all potential escape routes. Chase had made his way down the side of a house in a space approximately 2ft wide between the house and the fence. He was lying down in the back corner. I will never forget the sight of that small, scared, shivering little dog curled up, and looking so pathetic. As I approached him he looked worried and for a moment I thought he might bolt. I talked to him and brought my retriever, Kahlua, up to the fence line. Chase & Kahlua are buddies so it was my hope that if he didn’t recognize me, he might recognize her. At first he leaned away but I kept talking to him & then …. his little tail started to wag. Kahlua put her nose to the fence to sniff him, and his little tail wagged faster. Recognition!!! He came right up to me & took the hotdogs I had for him. And when I stood up, he stood up to the fence wagging and I was able to reach over and take hold of his harness. Mitch, one of the rescuers, looped a leash onto him and we lifted him out. Mitch had him in her arms and we just hugged him and kissed him and cried.
Chase traveled home sharing a crate with Kahlua. He slept soundly all the way home, using Kahlua’s rump as a pillow. As I type this, he is sleeping beside me in the kitchen. He went to the vet this past week & got a clean bill of health. He’s a survivor!
‘Tis the Season for Good Will Towards ……. Dog?
Mahatma Ghandi said: “The greatness of a nation & its moral progress can be judged in the way in which its animals are treated” . I think the Mahatma would be proud this Christmas season, of an incredible group of volunteers coming together to save the life of one little lost dog in the City Of Toronto.
’Tis the season for shopping, partying, family gatherings and focus on self. But it’s also the season for giving, forgiving, and good will towards man … or dog as the case may be. In this, the busiest week of the year, leading up to the biggest holiday of the year, a group of volunteers are working around the clock to save Chase.
Chase is a little beagle mix that has been missing in Toronto for 12 days now. But this is not just another lost dog story …. this is a story about good will … towards not only a lost dog, but towards community. This is a story of people … incredible people, giving up their Christmas to spend hours combing the city streets searching for a lost dog. Giving up money to print out thousands of flyers to be distributed in the area in which the dog was lost.
This little dog has motivated a community of strangers, to become friends in a common goal. Bring Chase home for Christmas.
This little dog has been through a lot. He was found wandering in a rural area of Athens, Ohio with 2 of his siblings; picked up by the Animal Warden and brought to the shelter. His brother was taken in by a rescue group and found a permanent home. His sister gave birth to a litter of 3 puppies, 2 of which died in the shelter. She too was taken in by a rescue group. Chase was left behind …. on death row. He had run out of time. Luck was with him though > he was picked to join a group of dogs slated to come to Ontario to one of the humane societies here, but then the week of the transport, they ran out of room and once again Chase was at risk …. back on death row because he had nowhere to go. My contact in Ohio asked me if I would please take Chase (& one other hound also being left behind) and that’s how Chase came to be in Ontario.
Chase arrived here in Ontario in June and was with me in foster care for 6mths. During that time he became a minor celebrity in the rescue dog world having worked as a background actor on an episode of the tv series the Murdoch Mysteries. And of course he donated his earnings back to rescue :-) Chase finally got adopted but on his FIRST NIGHT in his new home, something spooked him and he escaped the yard and bolted. That was Saturday Dec. 12th. He’s been missing ever since. I’m am sick with worry over him.
The most amazing thing amidst this tragedy, is that at a time of year when people are busy and totally self absorbed with xmas holidays, and shopping etc., total strangers have banded together to form a search party to locate Chase. It started with an email I sent out to friends asking them to please cross post to friends living in the city, and the next thing I knew I was meeting up with a search party of 20 people (most of them strangers to me … all of them strangers to the dog). Chase has brought out the “true Christmas spirit” in these volunteers who are taking time away from family gatherings, holiday shopping and parties etc. to help a lost frightened dog. Everyday volunteers are out searching for Chase and putting up posters. Volunteers have spent their own money to hire a professional flyer company to print and distribute 4000 flyers to homes and businesses in the area in which the dog was lost. The Oakville Humane Society & the Toronto Wildlife Centre have loaned us humane live traps. Animal Communicators have been consulted. And a major television station ran a story about Chase on the evening news!
Tonight it is Christmas Eve and there is no Christmas at this house. It is not a happy night here … it is another night of worry about Chase.
Tonight it is Christmas Eve and there are volunteers out on the streets searching for Chase and praying for a Christmas Miracle. The Law of Attraction says that what we think about, we bring about. If ever there was something “thought about”, it is the safe return of Chase the dog. Today at 2pm hundreds of people joined in a moment of silence & prayer to send Chase positive thoughts of calm, and encouragement to find someone safe to trust and go to for help.
Tonight it is Christmas Eve and I am grateful for the kindness of strangers. I am overwhelmed by the dedication and determination of the Team Chase volunteers.
Tonight it is Christmas Eve and Chase is out there somewhere …. alone, cold, hungry, and scared.
Tomorrow is another day …. Christmas Day … and I will spend it searching the cold, lonely city streets searching for a dog who has touched the lives of countless people and reminded us all of the spirit of Christmas.
‘Tis the season of good will towards man ….and dog.
Tomorrow the search continues ……
While there is no snow on the ground yet, the dipping temperatures are a sure sign that winter is upon us. Normally I hibernate during the winter, huddling on the sofa under a warm blanket, and sipping hot chocolate spiked with Baileys. When I lived up north a fireplace was also part of this picture, but alas, no fireplace where we live now. I emerge in the spring blurry eyed and out of shape …. somewhat like a grizzly after several months of uninterupted sleep. But this year I decided not to let the winter blahs consume me. I need to stay in shape … or rather GET IN SHAPE! for the sake of my dogs. This disc doggin’ business is getting to be a bit too much for my aging, injured, and over weight body. After months of hibernation my energy levels are lower than low, and the summer months just aren’t long enough to fully recharge. Add up two or three winters of hibernation and I, unlike the Energizer Bunny, do not keep going and going and going. My batteries are just about run down to nothing. So time for a change!
This past week I’ve been steppin’ out for a bit of exercise at the off leash dog park. It’s located in a town about 20min north of us and I discovered it a few weeks ago when doing a meet ‘n greet with one of my foster dogs and her new owners. My dogs had a blast running free & socializing with other dogs and I thought why not bring the dogs to the park daily and walk the perimeter for exercise for myself? I came home and made a list of dogs that are suitable for dog park jaunts, divided them into groups of two or three, and assigned them weekdays so that everyone gets a turn. And this past Tuesday I started on my daily dog park walks. The park is an acre fenced. The dogs run and play, and I walk the perimeter …. four times around. Over time I’ll increase my walking laps around the park.
They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit > the neuro pathways in the brain do not accept data for new habits unless bombarded for 21 days straight. And once a habit is formed it becomes harder NOT to do it, than to do keep doing it. My get up and go, got up and left quite some time ago. I’m hoping that by steppin’ out at the dog park, I’ll find my enthusiasm & motivation once again. I’m at day 6 and counting.
In my last post I told you all about my puppy Niamh turning onto the disc. Well since that last entry ALL of the pups still here at the farm have totally turned onto the disc. I have four disc crazed border collie puppies on my hands! They are 4mths old tomorrow & they are AWESOME!!!! My pups are the girls … Niamh and Synergy. The boys … in case anyone is interested … are still looking for homes ;-)
It is so awesome to take these pups out everyday and watch their enthusiasm grow and strengthen. I’m not really “training” them at this point …. just playing with them daily to ‘cement’ their drive, and letting them compete with eachother to intensify their drive. They are now running out of the kennel and ‘looking’ for frisbees out in the field!! Of course, they come by it naturally given that their parents are both competition flyball and disc dogs
At this point the pups are just chasing/retrieving sliders and rollers. And working on tugging as a reward. They have not yet been asked to attempt to grab a disc in flight. That will come later once we have a good ‘bite/grab’ & tug developed. Niamh is now grabbing rollers as they are still rolling, while Synergy still waits for the disc to stop and fall over before grabbing it. They play in strange places … in other words not just at home. And they can play in the face of distractions. On Wednesday nights I meet with a friend at a local training hall, to work our dogs for an hour. I’ve been bringing the pups. They can focus and retrieve discs with another dog practicing disc at the opposite end of the hall. Great focus for such young pups. I’m really pleased with them.
Now the challenge is for myself > can I live up to the potential of these puppies? Can I be the handler they deserve, to showcase their talent? I hope so!
Today a disc dog was born.
Actually she came into this world fifteen weeks ago on August 2nd. But today the “disc dog” in her was born.
Her name is Niamh (pronounced Neev) & she is a border collie puppy.
Today I had Niamh and her littermates out for a run with their mother Hannah, and Hannah brought me a frisbee. So of course I threw it for her. Hannah & I played toss & fetch while the puppies bounded happily after their mother chasing her across the fields. And then it happened. Niamh’s attention turned from her mother, to the disc in Hannah’s mouth. Suddenly Niamh was chasing the disc as Hannah carried it. She zeroed in on the disc and chased out after it & as Hannah brought it back to me, little Niamh was jumping up trying to take the disc out of Hannah’s mouth.
I put everyone away and took Niamh out on her own and tossed some rollers for her. She zoomed out after them and brought the disc back. She played tug with the disc. She was vocalizing in her excitement. This puppy was disc crazed! A disc dog was born!
Of course, I quit while she was still really keen …… always leave ‘em wanting more, as the saying goes.
Looks like I have a new disc dog coming up the ranks!
This is what people without children do on Halloween :-) Take pix of the critters …..
Drifter the farm cat
My new puppy who still has no name
Zen > my handsome llama
The past 2 weekends had us out disc doggin’ with our mutts. Last weekend a couple of us helped with a demo for the Oakville & District Humane Societys’ annual walkathon & fundraiser for the shelter. The theme was country western and aptly named Critters Gone Country. Dennis Alexander wrote up a country western script with a disc dog twist sure to please the kids. Sheriff Big Al (a disc doggin’ labrador) was putting together a posse to find the man who shot is pa’w. First he wanted to see what posse tricks the dogs had up their sleeves, so Sheena (german shepherd), Rodeo (cattle dog) , and Case (border collie) came out one at a time to show of some doggie tricks, followed by Rowdy (border collie x jack russell) doing freestyle disc as his try out for the posse. Then it was the Shoot Out At The OK Corral …. a disc toss/fetch throw off between Rodeo & Buddy (german shepherd x lab) followed by Bent (border collie x jack russell) and Buddy demonstrating an agility run to show their speed & ability to navigate rough terrain to chase down the man who shot Sheriff Big Als pa’w.
Then a strange critter arrived on the scene to challenge the dogs agility skills …… a COW!! The show ended with Dennis and Case doing their freestyle disc routine. Dennis had the entire show staged to country western music and had us accessorized in a country western theme. The weather was great & the shows were well received. It was a fun day out for my dogs Bent, Rowdy, and Rodeo.
This week it was Maeve, Kahlua, Biddy, and Ace’s turn to have a day out disc doggin’ . We had a Howl-0-ween Disc Dog trial featuring a Skyhoundz D/A; Ghosts & Goblins Speed Disc; The Great Pumpkin Challenge Spot Landing game; and a canine Halloween costume contest. And just for fun a Hula Hoop Challenge ….. can you work a hula hoop and throw a disc to your dog at the same time? Me? I can’t even work the hula hoop!! LOL
We had a Halloween theme going and each competitor received 2 free discs (one orange & one black) and a pumpkin hat. And surprisingly, almost everyone wore their pumpkin hats all day!
We also had great food/snacks …. halloween cupcakes & cookies; hot chocolate; some halloween candy; and a hot chili lunch.
We even had the field marked out with a halloween theme > orange paint to mark the zones and instead of pylons to mark the zones, we had orange stakes with pumpkin head tops > it was all so very Halloweeny
We finished off the day with the canine halloween costume contest and the dogs broke out their best duds for the occassion. It was a fun day and the weather was fantastic. Maeve, Kahlua, Biddy, and Ace all had a great time!
The 2009 Skyhoundz World Disc Dog Championships are now in the vault & disc doggers around the world are recovering from their air flights, road trips, and the excitement & challenges of the Worlds weekend. For Canada it was weekend of great success!! Angela Ewtushik & Rick Rauwerda from Mt. Forest, Ontario won the World Championship in the Pairs division, with Angela’s dog Rally. Way to go guys!! All those hours of practice really paid off! Let that be a lesson to all of us to get out and practice, practice, practice :-)) This is the 2nd World Championship title won by Canadians …. Katherine Ferger having won Microdogs back in 2007. Canada is making its mark on the disc dog world!
Congratulations to all of the Canadian competitors at Worlds and super huge congratulations to Angela, Rick, and Rally …… 2009 Skyhoundz Pairs Division World Champions!
Today the mass exodus from Canada to Chattanooga begins! Bags are packed. Vehicles are gassed up. Last minute practices are complete. And the journey begins. For some, attending the Skyhoundz World Championships will be familiar & there will be excitement not only for the competition, but for the opportunity to see old friends. For others, it will be a first time experience and the excitement, according to Facebook entries, is mixed with a bit of nausea <haha> I DO know that feeling! In 2004 I traveled to Worlds for the first time to compete in Sport D/A with my border collie Maeve. I couldn’t find anyone available to travel with me so I drove alone and slept in my car at truck stops until I got to Atlanta, where I had a hotel booked. Talk about being a newbie …. I arrived on site to compete, with my dog and ONE Jawz disc. Afterall, I was in D/A …. why would I need more than one disc? <LOL> I remember feeling overwhelmed and nervous. And yes …. even a bit nauseous! But what I remember most from that first trip, is the helpfulness and friendship extended to me by complete strangers. And the sense of true, honest commradarie between competitors. I remember being captivated watching the great Bob Evans and his dog Nick. I’d never seen freestyle disc like I saw that weekend. My mind was in overdrive trying to take it all in. And it is memories like these that I wish for all my new Canadian friends heading down to Worlds for the first time. My memories are not so much about the competition as they are about the “essence” of the competition.
This year Canada will be represented by competitors from Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta. And Ontario will make disc dog history by sending the youngest disc dog handler ever to compete at Worlds. Dennis Alexander and his five year old son, Reid, will be competing in Pairs Freestyle with their border collie Case. You don’t want to miss this team! Of course, Canada is sending some of its finest disc doggers to Chattanooga as well > former MicroDog World Champion Katherine Ferger with her dog Tallulah; Angela Ewtushik with her dog Rally who took 2nd place at the IDC this year; Colleen Miller with her amazing D/A dogs Ripp & Crewz; Don Blewett with his wicked throwing arm & awesome border collies; and Dennis Alexander with his border collie Case ……. to name but a few!
As for me …. I’ll be at home …. I fear I shall never see Worlds again as my freestyle dog is now 8yrs old and it seems he has seen his best years So I shall sit patiently & watch Facebook for updates as to how everyone is doing & quietly cheer them on from my computer screen …… GO CANADA!!!