Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shows, Thundershirt, Breeding.. oh my!

This week has been absolutely crazy for me!

The CKCSCC and MBVS held another joint MRI clinic on Friday for breeding dogs. We MRI'd a total of 10 dogs on Friday with 8 of them belonging to breeders who had never went through our Club process with MBVS. Jane and her staff at Matheson Blvd Veterinary Services were excellent as always. Fingers and toes crossed for some favourable results. I do think we are starting to see results from informed breeding decisions...at least here with those who are taking part in our low cost scheme for breeders.

Saturday was spent getting Molly ready for her first show. We worked on the table, a bit on lead outside, and gave her a bath. This is my favourite part of showing. Actually working and being with a cavalier. The bond you develop through training and the time spent with a dog is so important for any breed. The thrill of working to accomplish a common goal regardless of what it is.. that is the fun part. When it is all said and done the bonus is that you have a very well mannered, well socialized, and happy cavalier in almost any situation.

Molly did awesome at her first show. We didn't win anything major but she had a blast and has decided that showing is wonderful. She is a little girl full of attitude and life. It really didn't surprise me to see that she enjoyed herself in the ring but it was also a sigh of relief. Not all dogs enjoy being in the ring. She showed her opinion of things by leaping in joy down and back on the diagonal with her tail going like mad the entire time. It would of course be better if she'd keep herself on four legs while walking nicely down the aisle but for me I laughed at her enthusiasm of things and hopefully next time she can contain her enjoyment just a bit! My mother and sister came down to collect their girl on Monday. I think someone was greatly missed at the Farm.

My good friend David took this picture of Molly after the show when she was relaxing out in the sunshine. I always love his pictures and i'm so fortunate he enjoys shooting my dogs. I've learned a lot from him regarding my camera and the books he has leant me. I'd still be lost with my camera without him.

Shes squinting a bit.. the sun is bright!

I also wanted to report back on the Thundershirt and Zo. I'd just like to say one thing about it. It is completely AWESOME and Zo did about 90% better in the car just by wearing it! I was pretty skeptical even knowing the theory behind it. I am so thankful it worked for us. Now I just hope it continues improving. I haven't had her in the car since we went to Debbie's. Very high praises here for the Thundershirt. I thought I'd maybe make them a before and after video and send it to them. It really was truly amazing and I think she is/was more anxious than their poster dog for car anxiety. Leave it to Zo to take things to the extreme! That little shirt is going to get a lot of wear.

My last news for now is pretty exciting. Miss Zo has decided with all the hormonal girls in her life that she should come into season too..approximately a month and a half before her normal of just over 6 approaching 7 months between. We've had Presley in season here, she was around Becky who is in season, and Molly came into season as well. Hormonal girls everywhere. Whatever happened I'm taking it as a sign to go ahead and try to breed Zo. She is giving me enough time to let her be pregnant and raise well socialized healthy puppies before returning to school in mid January. Hopefully she will throw a beautiful tri colour or blenheim girl in the mix for us to keep. That is what I want out of this litter.

I am once again going to Riely "Woodmere's What a Dreammaker". I had originally thought that I would try to use his sire who has *so* many good things about him including health. However I am not so sure that Zo does not have some reproductive issues like her Mom had. It does not make sense for me to invest in a breeding away from home when I realistically have no idea if she will actually conceive. My hopes are high but the reality of it is she has a high percentage chance of missing again. I will invest that money in progesterone testing, a thyroid test and a few other things so I can monitor her throughout her season. Riely has the same good things going for him that his sire does. He has an impeccable health record of both MVD and SM with many clear dogs behind him. Both Riely's and Zo's parents are still heart clear which is important to me to follow the MVD breeding protocol.

A picture i've shared before that I took of this beautiful boy


He also compliments Zo very well in her structure. The areas that she is very weak in structurally are Riely's strongest points. My hope is that they will compliment each other in their offspring. Zo is due on her MVD testing. I really wasn't planning on trying to breed her again this year so I wasn't in a hurry to get it done. She is only *just* over the year mark. I have her booked to go to the Cardiologist next week. These girls really do have their own plans! She will complete that before I breed her.

Riely will be staying here for a the duration. He was dropped off yesterday and I will get to have the chance of learning the "boy" side of things. I'm very familiar with it in terms of horses and cattle. I do not have too much experience with dogs. There are some amazing helpful people near me so I know that I will have help if I need it. Zo is no where near being interested in him at the moment. She lets him sniff her and check her out but that is about it. If last time is any indication she will be a very late to ovulate once again. Mylee is happy to once again have a cuddle buddy. It always amuses me how she can convince the visitor to come curl up with her in a little donut bed that really is the right size for one cavalier rather than two! I will get a picture of them when my camera batteries finish charging.

Here are some random pictures I wanted to share.

Another beautiful picture that David took of Mylee. I just love how the sun is reflecting on her and her expression. It is more true Mylee in the face. I have such a hard time shooting rubies and black and tans. They never look quite like themselves in pictures. This one really *looks* like Mylee. I love it.

Here is a puppy picture Karen sent to me of Molly. It is *so* her. You can see the mischief and zest for life in her face.

Another puppy picture of Molly and her sisters that I took while meeting them for the first time. I may be wrong at this but from looking at it left to right.. Molly, Sammie, and Deana. Correct me if I'm wrong on that Karen!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Molly's First Show

Molly's first show is tomorrow. She has been training well all week and doing better each time I have her on a lead. We'll see how it goes tomorrow. We will be showing at an all breed show tomorrow. There are more entries than usual but not a huge class. I'm not expecting to win but I do hope that she will have a great experience and enjoy herself in the ring.

We spent part of today training on the table and showing teeth. Both of which involved yummy treats so she was quick to catch on. Tonight was the big bath and introduction to the dryer. She didn't like the dryer but was fairly quick to give up and let me do as I wanted with her ears. We had a bit of a fight, but nothing like the one her sister Becky put me through! I will redo them in the morning to get them a bit puffier and straight. She will have them all ruined by the morning.

I'm also showing her sister Becky. Hopefully it will be a fun day!

From wild country girl with burrs in her ears to show girl glam..

Still wet around the edges..

Somewhat straight.. for now.

How many of Zoey's balls can one little red dog fit into her mouth at a time?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Trying out the Thundershirt

Thundershirt's seem to be the *in* thing right now to treat dog anxiety. Originally designed in Florida to help dogs through thunderstorms and fireworks I've only read about them fairly recently. Whenever I hear about an anxiety solution I usually stop to listen.

One of the most major issues Zoey and I have had to constantly work on is her anxiety. At almost four years old we still have some work to do. Zo has had separation anxiety for as long as I have had her. As a puppy it was very hard to deal with. Getting into this breed I knew there was the strong potential that she would have anxiety of some form. Cavaliers are bred to be with you at all times and they are so good at their job. Zo however took her job to a whole new level. She would completely freak out and be very upset anytime she was left alone. She would get loose stools, drooly, panting, and this terrified look in her eyes if you'd peak in the door after leaving. I tried so many things with her to try and help her issues.

The ones that worked the best were having her in a crate whenever she was to be left on her own so that she felt safe and secure in her environment. I also had some success with a dap infuser, music, and a herbal anxiety treatment known as rescue remedy. I stuck to the same routine anytime I left the house. Finished getting ready, picked up my keys, picked up my purse, grabbed a cookie from the cookie jar, told Zo to go to her crate, and quickly left. We've done this from the start. To this day when she hears me pick up my keys, if there is no cookie with it there is a very upset Zoey dog at the door. Needless to say the cookie wins every time.

Ultimately my favourite solution and the one that worked the best for her was introducing Mylee into our family! Mylee from the get go has been an amazing calming influence on Zo. She was the laziest most easy going puppy you could ever imagine. Nothing upset her, she was always happy, and most importantly seemed to know that I would always return home eventually. It was just what the Dr. ordered for Zo and much of her anxiety has disappeared except for her major triggers. Being in a strange place and having me leave her with someone she doesn't know that well(at a training class, show, park.. wherever) and our major obstacle.. the car. These two situations have been pretty much impossible for me to train her out of.

The car is getting so bad that I am starting to dread taking her places. It is not that she is upset to be in it, it is that she is *so* excited that she is going and anticipating where we might be going and what we might be doing it turns into extreme hyper anxiety. The panting, drooling, high pitch whine, and sometimes barking. I just can't deal with it anymore. It is getting completely out of control and only worse as she gets older. As much as I hate to admit it, it is also having a major impact on my driving, and more often than not I've been leaving her at home instead of bringing her. Something I hate to do because she loves coming so much. Once we get to our destination the trip home is always incredibly calm and quiet. It is just on the way to wherever we are going.

So tomorrow I am going to my good friend Debbie's which is approx an hour and 15 minutes if you don't hit traffic. Normally this drive is horrible with Zo. Her Thundershirt arrived in the mail today. Just in time! :)

It seems to fit her well. I have my fingers and toes crossed that it lives up to all the amazing reviews it has had. I know Zoey will give it a very thorough testing. Even if it helps somewhat I will be thankful. I have seen and used the concept myself when I worked with autistic children. Weighted blankets and full body hugs were often used in therapy during anxiety attacks and when they were extremely upset.

As you can see I have some high hopes for this little shirt and will have a review of it for sure.

Princess Zo trying on her Thundershirt

Zoey is a bigger boned cavalier with a very deep chest. She weighed in at the Vet's on Monday at 20lbs. Her ideal weight is probably 19.5lbs. We got a size small thundershirt and it fits but barely. If your cavalier is over 20lbs and has a fairly big bone structure I'd probably go up a size. I know they are supposed to be snug but the Velcro barely closes. The size chart says 15-25lbs. I know if Zo was a bit bigger there is no way it would go on.

Soft, Flexible, and puts pressure on in the right places

Somebody is looking like a Princess Scrag, all that wet grass we've had lately.

I also have Molly staying with me for a few days. I have her entered in her first show on the weekend. Keep your fingers crossed for us! She will be showing with her sister Becky. There is a fairly large entry so I hope we will have some good experiences before our ultimate goal in September. The CKCSCC Club National being held in Woodstock Ontario. More info can be found on the CKCSCC Website.

Pretty Girl

Mylee is so happy to have a cuddle buddy again since she has been missing Presley.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Presley Update

Well its very hard to believe that it has been just over a week since my little rescue girl Presley went to her new home. Things have been strangely quiet in my house. It is weird having two dogs again after living for so long with three. I miss her little snuggles, kisses, and curiosity about the world around her so much. It was incredibly rewarding to see her blossom and become interested in her world rather than be so scared of it. I know the dog that left for her new home was a very different dog from the one that was rescued by the CKCSCC.

It also gives me a lot of pride in saying that all of the dogs who went into rescue aside from one have now found their new homes. Two of them were harder to place in new homes due to some health issues. They all were lacking majorly in socialization and training. It is incredibly heart warming to know that people will open up their hearts and homes to these dogs.

The one Cavalier who is still looking for a home is a 2.5 year old Blenheim boy. He will need a very secure, dedicated owner, who is experienced in working with behavioral issues. Unfortunately somewhere in his past he has came to understand that being aggressive towards people in certain situations is ok. This is especially hard to deal with in a Cavalier as the last thing you would expect from our beloved breed is aggression towards people. I believe our Rescue Coordinator; Elaine Ellis is working on a update for him to go on our CKCSCC website. More info can be found out about this boy through Elaine.

Now what I really wanted to update on;

I am so happy to report that Presley is doing wonderful in her new home. She had a very uneventful flight, and walked into her new home like she owned it. I think she has come a long way in the week that Tania has had her. As much as I miss her I know she is being treated like the much loved Princess she is. I am very fortunate to have found the home I did for her. I owe it to my good friend Debbie, and the power of social media and the internet to let people connect in ways that were not possible in the past. Without her, and a forum bringing cavaliers owners together we never would have connected with Presley's new owner Tania and Presley would have missed out in the best possible home I could imagine for her.

Tania has been incredibly awesome at keeping me up to date, sending pictures, emails, and even took time to give me a couple phone calls too. It has been *so* appreciated! As hard as it was to let her go, being kept up to date and being able to enjoy her new accomplishments and seeing someone else enjoy her company has made it all worth it. In the week that Tania has had her she has accomplished a trip up their cottage, a new home, a new yard, a new sister, a vet visit, the dog park, and met two new gorgeous Sheltie friends. I know things will continue to progress and I'm sure that Presley will continue to grow in confidence and social skills. Both of which she had none of coming into rescue. Thank you to Tania for having this special girl come into your home. I know she is worth it! Also thank you to Tania's good friend who has been wonderful support for her and a wealth of information. I have heard so much about you and I'd love to meet you someday!

Some pictures of Presley in her new home. Photo credits to Tania. Thanks for letting me post them on my blog!

Presley and her beautiful sister Nova

In her new Yard, the sun is bright!

Ahh Sunbathing Girlies

Pretty Girls

Presley's beautiful new Sheltie friend. I love that they are both tri colours!

Life is Rough Here

Relaxing with her Sister

Conquering her new world. Love the doggy smile! This picture to me shows just how happy she is and how well she is doing!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Snood Making

Anyone who has a breed with long ears knows that a snood is essential when feeding anything really messy unless they want to be spending the next hour or so washing and brushing ears to get everything that has collected in there after they are finished. I happen to love making snoods. I've always loved patterns and colours, and my Mother who is a wonderful quilter often says I have a good eye for colour and design.

I was never interested in sewing much until I had dogs, no matter how hard she tried my Mom did not succeed in teaching me while I lived at home how to sew. The practical part of me is cheap and resourceful. I *hate* spending money on something, and even worse when it is something I think I could do better. So I started learning how to sew. Much to my surprise all of those years of my Mom sewing has absorbed into me. Its been fairly easy for me to pick up and as I do more of it I'm getting better at it. My first thing I ever made was a snood. They are really quite easy with some basic sewing skills. I love that they go together quickly and you can soon see the outcomes of your effort.

When we went up to pick up Molly from Karen's, Karen suggested visiting a local Mennonite fabric shop. She knows how much my Mom likes to sew. Some people like to shop for shoes, some people for clothes.. my Mom? Fabric. I can only typically go into one store at a time with her. There is only so much fabric I can handle! So we ventured out and finally found this little fabric store in a typical farm shed. The little store was packed ceiling to floor with all kinds of fabric. While waiting for my Mom to finish, Karen and I decided that we needed some fabric to make snoods with. She is short some and I find they make good little gifts for Cavalier people. I found this amazing "blingy" "showy" fabric. Black with gold shiny stars, black with silver, blue with silver, and a tanish with gold/silver. If a cavalier has to wear a snood may as well make it fancy!

Well I finally decided to cut up my fabric and start stitching as Mom would say. Here is the results of my first one. My poor dogs are so abused. The horror in making them model and pose *with* a snood on.

Finished product

Mylee is usually my most co-operative model. That is why you often see her modeling for me. Poor girl adores me so much that she will let me do pretty much anything to her and still come flying with her tail wagging when I call her. Silly girl.

Get it over with if you must...I'll help by looking cute.

Dude seriously? Don't I usually get food when you put this on me? Miss demanding self proclaimed Princess is seldom cooperative unless there is something good in it for her.

If there is no food involved, get me off of here.. now.

and a pretty picture of Molly my sister took on the back deck.. just because shes cute!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tooting Your Own Horn

Public relations is all about sharing information with the general public that is transparent, honest, accountable, and relevant to public interest. As many of you who have been following my blog know I am returning to school in January 2011 in a fulltime public relations post graduate program. Some of my good friends can’t figure out why I have chosen this path, and it was maybe a bit unexpected. Those reading my blog can easily see that I enjoy writing and try to see the positive on almost any topic.

By choosing this career path and being involved with this breed it hasn’t taken me long to see that “Tooting Your Own Horn” is truly something that our breed and the demographic area I happen to know the most about …the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of Canada does not do enough of. Credit should always be given where it is due. There are so many breeders here in Canada that are deserving of so much credit for what they are doing, how they are doing it, and their 100% commitment to improving this breed’s future.

In this breed there is so much focus put on the negative aspects. Breeding practices, health testing, health issues, pointing fingers at who did what, and who didn’t do what. Or as my Mom would say when my brothers, sister and I weren’t doing enough work on the farm in my Father’s opinion… Entirely too much being focused on what is not being done, rather than what *is* being accomplished. We will always have people who will not follow protocol, be very vocal about it, and often over shadow the ones who are doing their best and all of the good that is being done. Discussion regarding that goes on all day every day and it certainly hasn’t done our breed any favours.

I’m one of the first ones to acknowledge that yes this breed is in serious trouble. However I am also one to point out the strong glitters of hope that do exist in this breed… like my parents new black and tan girl who will hopefully be my first breeding bitch. She is a third generation MRI scanned kid. Her grandmother was 9 years old when she was MRI’d with no SM and no CM. Her grandparents have all been scanned with favourable results. Her parents were clear as well. Her parents are both heart clear, with many of her grandparents still heart clear as well. She is the product of a small breeder doing their best they can to ensure the best possible chance of a cavalier with incredible health, temperament and breed type. She is my glitter of hope.

Here in Canada breeders who are members of the CKCSCC have so much to be proud of. The amount of time, money, and dedication that goes into our breed is truly remarkable. As many of you know I am a member of our CKCSCC Club’s Health and Education Committee. Some may say this makes me a biased source, however I say it gives me a clear picture of what truly is going on behind the scenes. My hope in the future is that better communication practices will be put into place making communication with our member base and the public on a whole, much easier. With the internet and the implementation of social media, quick constant communication should just not be an issue, however at this time for this Club it still is. People have to remember that Clubs are put together completely on volunteers donating their time. Change is slow and information coming out of those organizations is even slower.

My primary responsibility on the Health and Education Committee is acting as a liaison between breeders wishing to have their dogs MRI’d and the absolutely wonderful clinic Matheson Blvd Veterinary Services where our Club has developed the best low cost MRI initiative for breeders anywhere in North America. I have written a huge write up that will be included in our Club’s National Yearbook. It is entirely on the status of Syringomyelia in this breed here in Canada. When it is officially published I will post it here on my blog. To me it is an excellent example of “tooting your own horn” and giving credit where credit is due.

On Friday August 27th we will be holding another MRI Clinic for breeding dogs wanting to be screened for Syringomyelia. This program for breeders has been up and running now in partnership with MBVS for over a year and a half. MRI’ing breeding stock at least here in Canada is becoming the norm. As I’ve been busily sending emails, making phone calls, and arranging things for the 27th curiosity got the best of me as at every clinic this year most of the people getting dogs scanned are breeders new to scanning. In the previous year it was a small dedicated few. I decided to pull up the breeding directory on our National Club website and see just how many breeders now have participated in our low cost clinic and having dogs scanned.

Out of 32 breeders in Ontario, 25 of those on our breeding directory have had a least one dog MRI’d. To me that is absolutely incredible and very worth patting yourself on the back for! We have also had participants in our clinic come up from the United States, and right across the country from British Columbia. We are fast approaching 200 cavaliers in total having had MRI’s completed. For a small breed club by numbers, in a not over populated breed here in Canada this is a huge percentage of our dogs scanned.

Acting as this liaison between our Club and MBVS has allowed me to learn so much about Syringomyelia and our breeders. I have had the opportunity to see so many scan results (by breeder’s choice) and know how complex and confusing this disease is. It is not black and white and the only thing this breed has left to rely on is the dedication and hard work of their breeders in partnership with ongoing research.

When you are still having dogs that are severely symptomatic scanning clear, and dogs that are not symptomatic scanning with Sryingomyelia you know that there is a lot of work to be done, and there is an awful lot about this disease that is unknown. An MRI does not give complete answers; all it gives is more information to make a responsible breeding choice.

To me Pet owners are also just as responsible as those breeders everyone talks about. Anyone looking to buy a cavalier NEEDS be doing their part by making sure that any cavalier they purchase has all the necessary health clearances. Do not buy from Joe Blow down the street who has decided they have a pretty cavalier and they want to experience the joys of having puppies. Do not support pet stores by “rescuing” cute cavalier puppies and paying outrageous prices for them. Do not support puppy mills by buying from questionable sources, buying a puppy on the internet, or supporting the practice of “auctions”. Do not buy from any breeder who cannot show you proper health certificates on their breeding stock even if they are a well known name and winning huge in the show ring. The pure bred dog world would be a very different environment if everyone went to a responsible breeder. By uniting hard working passionate breeders, and having educated pet owners this breed will have a wonderful future.

In the mean time I will continue to toot my own horn and let people know about the wonderful things breeders are accomplishing here in Canada. I only touched on SM but there is a ton more going on. I look forward to sharing some of that information. Maybe in my next post I will discuss a Mitral Valve Heart Disease study that has been on going here in Canada since 1992, a Health Committee that was formed over 18 years ago on the basis of protecting cavalier health in the future, or an upcoming annual eye clinic.

I’d encourage everyone to support their local breed clubs. Become a member if you aren’t. Donate to your health and education committees and support research. Rather than point fingers and blame, or question the practice of doing or not doing - step up to the plate and donate some time to your local breed club. Take part in a clinic. Come out to a Club show. Come and meet some wonderful compassionate breeders. Our MRI clinic currently is only available to breeding dogs; however our eye and heart clinic’s are open to all. You may be pleasantly surprised.

My glimmer of hope… Molly – Mysticmoon’s Danika, settled into her new home and fast becoming the spoiled Princess at the Farm


Monday, August 9, 2010

Cottage Time

After a few days of beautiful weather, the company of friends and family, awesome food, and the ultimate in relaxation we are home and back to reality. Not a long post for now. I'm still recovering but I wanted to share some of my pictures. I finally picked up a new lens and wow! Even though I bought the same lens I think something is different. Maybe it is just in the beautiful scenery I had around me to shoot from.. or like my very good friend Debbie said in my photography skills, which have come a long way from when I first started (too kind) either way though I did get some amazing shots.

Sunset over Muskoka

Dock Dog


Daisies one of my favourites

About to Bloom

Wind blowing and sand between the toes!

Demonstrating doggy boating safety

Zoey loves to boat!

Ahh relaxing..

Cottage life is definitely rough!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mysticmoon's Danika

Embee cavaliers is proud to introduce Mysticmoon's Danika (now known as Molly) to our family fur crew. Molly is a year old black and tan girl from my good friend Karen Murray at Mysticmoon Cavaliers. Some of you may recognize her as Becky's full litter sister. :)

Karen is someone I have come to greatly admire for her commitment to cavalier health, education, research, and producing beautiful ambassadors of the cavalier breed. We thank her *so* much for entrusting my family with this beautiful little girl. Molly will live with my parents, sister Julie, and brother Jon and be the resident farm greeter. Farm life is never dull and boring with people constantly coming and going. This will be a perfect task for this very social and outgoing little girl!

As most of you who have been reading my blog know I am working towards becoming more involved with showing and breeding cavaliers. This so far has proved to be quite challenging for me due to some uncertainties and future plans in my life including returning to school in January for a full time Public Relations Post Graduate program. There just hasn't been room in my life to start all of things I want to do in Cavaliers. When I decided to try and breed Zoey one of my plans was to keep a girl and give it to my Mom. My Mom and Zoey get along so well that I knew it would be a wonderful fit in my head, and my Mom would greatly enjoy having a cavalier.

With Zoey having her false pregnancy, and the loom of time on my shoulders it let me re think my future plans. The past few months would have been perfect for me to have a litter. Zo obviously had other plans! Now with her due to come into season in the fall and life about to happen at the same time, I am pretty sure that I will not be breeding Zo in the future. I will not bring a litter of puppies into the world that I wouldn't be able to give my full attention to. Puppies and a full time intensive post grad program do not sound like a good mix to me! By the time I finish school and life is more stable Zo will be quickly approaching five years of age. Equivalent to that of a 40+ year old woman trying to get pregnant for the first time. A reproductive disaster waiting to happen. It's not something that I am comfortable putting her through.

Now with Molly in our lives I hope that I will have a future to start with when I am more stable to do so. In the meantime I will show her, do all of her health clearances, hopefully finish her championship, and enjoy seeing my family members have the opportunity to experience having a cavalier in their lives.

Here are some pictures my sister took of her first few days at the farm. A new bed, and some new toys.. someone is a lucky girl! I still haven't replaced my lens for my camera. I can't wait to get get some pictures of this girl with my camera.

Enjoying her new bed, farm life is tiring!

Having a bath

Pretty girl

A new fur toy, a hedgehog?

I definitely like him!

A yellow squeaky thing