Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!


Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas & a safe & happy New Year! I hope you all got to spend time with friends & family as well.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow!

Missoula finally started getting some snow so Skyler & I went out into the backyard to enjoy it. I think she was enjoying it a little more than me though!

The Perfect Tree

Cameron, Christopher & I set out on a journey into the mountains last night. I'd never really been on such an adventure but I was prepared for this one. After paying $5 for our permit, we traveled up into the mountains dressed in our warmest winter gear. After climbing halfway up the mountain in the dark we finally found it... the perfect tree. It was neatly covered in snow and nestled up with plenty of other trees around it. Cameron took a hand saw to it as Christopher & I held flashlights to light his way. Then the most fun part came. We decided to get back down the hill in style, the way a penguin would. So we slid down the hill like penguins with the tree in tow. It didn't take long to put the tree up and decorate it just right.
Special thanks to Momma for mailing out my Christmas ornaments so that we could decorate our tree. & for the party mix, although the roommates are requesting more Momma!!
This is Schuck & Skyler's first Christmas & they are still trying to figure out why in the world we brought a tree into the house. Schuck doesn't seem to mind to much anymore seeing as how he thinks I covered the tree with toys. I've caught him twice running around just carrying an ornament in his mouth like he's so proud to of just figured out how to get it off the tree. heh heh heh.
I hope everyone is having a Happy Holidays and just enjoying this time of year with friends, family, & strangers alike. The pups wanted to make sure they wished everyone a Merry Christmas as well so they posed for a picture too. :-)

Home Sweet Home









Finally I've found a place to call home.

I've never really had a place to completely unpack since moving to Montana but the long housing search has finally paid off. Near the end of November Skyler & I moved into a 4 bedroom, 3 bath house in the Rattlesnake. The house is within walking or biking distance of the university & downtown. There's a huge kitchen, dinning room, living room, entry room & mud room. Skyler is enjoying the huge fenced in back yard as well as the new bed I promised I'd get her when we finally got a place of our own (pictured). I'm living with 3 friends from school, Cameron, Kyle & JoAnna.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mi Baja!




I finally did it. I bought my first car that is officially all mine. This is no ordinary car to me though. Today I drove off the car lot with a 2003 Subaru Baja aka my dream car since they started making the car. It's even yellow! I know Gommy will hate the color, but it's even the exact same color I always imagined it to be. Thought I'd share some pictures of the new car. We finally have internet in the new house so I'll do some back posting here soon since I haven't posted since the elections. xoxo

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Life Changing?

Dogs. They've always been a way of life for me.

Since I can remember I've always had dogs in my life. I'll always remember the Christmas when we got that adorable little beagle puppy, Tippy. Or when my family & I returned from a month long vacation to find balloons & a Congratulations! banners on the side of out house. We were shocked to find out that while we were gone our English Setter rescue had 8 little puppies waiting for us (it was at the moment we also discovered the importance of spaying/neutering your pets! Thanks Bob Barker). My parents let me keep one of those puppies. I named her Milkie & she was the first dog that I ever officially called "mine." Although she wasn't the best looking dog, she was all mine & I taught her how to jump rope (something to this day my brother still cannot do. hah hah, only kidding Charlie, I have to give you a hard time, I can't do it that often any more). Unfortinately fairly early into her life she developed a brain tumor & had to be euthenised. After Milkie came Ruger (a beautiful Brittany pup that was a birthday present from my brother), Ithica (an E. Setter pup I kept from the first litter I helped my dad plan & whelp), Queenie (a shetland sheepdog rescue who now lives with my parents), & now Skyler, my blue merle retired show rough collie. There were many other dogs in through my life but those were "mine". I remember my dad & I spent and entire summer building an agility course for Queenie & I.

Around the same time I had Milkie I also started my own pet sitting business. Our English Setter rescue, Jessie, also started a trend in our family - upland bird hunting. Although I have never hunted a day in my life I was hooked on breeding, whelping, raising pups, & helping my dad train bird dogs. I even spent a few of my summers in college in Columbus, Ohio working as a pet care specialist at a pet boarding resort. Since moving to Montana, I may not of had a dog to call my own, but they haven't taken a backseat in my life either. Working as kennel manager at the Iditarod mushing kennels has been quite an experience. The dogs are amazing, the experiences are amazing, & words can't describe climbing up a narrow path on Scalcaho Pass at midnight during a full moon on the back of a dogsled.

I've been an animal lover for as long as I can remember, but dogs have always held a very special place in my heart & soul.

Dog training has always been a passion for me as well. After years of trick and some obedience training, I spend this past summer back in Columbus, OH for dog trainers school. I spend my summer working not only towards becoming a dog trainer, but the best damn dog trainer. I studied under the best dog trainers in the country & took everything that I could away from my experience. After graduating I returned to Montana to change my degree from wildlife biology to business management & opened up my own private training business. However, only living in Missoula for a little over a year, I do not have many contacts outside of the University world. So I started a search to associate myself w/ a local business in the Missoula dog world. I went straight for the biggest & the best. If you want to be associated with someone in the dog world in Missoula it's Go Fetch!, a local dog botique and hiking company. I stopped by their main store one day to see if they were affiliated w/ any trainers in the area. They were not so I dropped off a training flyer to them for consideration to hang up in their store. While I was there I also learned from an employee that they were opening up a 3rd store soon that included a training facility & it is not being advertised that they were also looking for a trainer. Lucky me b/c I was also carrying around my resume, which I also dropped off for consideration. A week and a half later I was woken up by my phone ringing. The owner of Go Fetch!, Scott, was on the other end. He had jsut returned from vacation that morning, stopped by the store to get some stuff, & in a stack of notes left by the employees he came across my resume. He was so excited by it that he had to call me that instant & ask me to come down & talk to him about the head training position. Scott & I met up later that week & I officially interviewed for the position. I was offered position as Head Trainer at the new facility. Although Go Fetch is the place to go for almost anything dog in Missoula they are new to training.

Now enters a possible life changing moment. I've spent the past 4 weeks designing training programs and creating business plans for Go Fetch! Training. Tomorrow I once again sit down with Scott to discuss not only these plans but my salary as well. IF they can offer me something worth my while I will be dropping my status as a student to either part time or not at all. There are a lot of aspects that need to be considered before doing so, but a lot is going to come down to my meeting with Scott tomorrow to see where life may possibly be taking me now. So I'm asking that you keep your fingers crossed, wish my luck, pray for me, or do whatever it is that you do, to just do it. I could really use it about now. :-)

Skyler & I have been enjoying the beauty of Montana by hiking every chance we get. This opportunity could keep us here & hiking in beautiful Missoula for many years to come.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Circle of Life







We have two new litters of puppies up at the racing kennels. The litters are about a week apart and doing awesome. They're at the perfect stage for cuddling and just enjoying before they turn into high energy/crazy sled dogs. The rest of the kennel is doing well, minus the passing of a few of our older dogs over the summer. They will be missed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Crashed

My computer crashed a few weeks ago & I am still waiting to get it back from the computer ER, which will hopefully be sometime this week. But I have unfortunately lost everything on it. :-( Will get some posts up and running when I get my newly remodeled macbook (& some new photos taken). *muah*

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Birthday Cake

Christopher surprised me with an awesome cookie dough ice cream cake for my 22nd birthday! I had an awesome day in general just relaxing and enjoying it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Turning 22 on the Big Blue

The transition process back to Missoula has begun. After leaving Ohio, I headed back into the foothills of Pennsylvania to visit my hometown & my parents for a few days. I also had a bit of an ulterior motive in that I needed to pack up my room as well & figure out what needed to be boxed up for the long haul to Montana. When you move across the country you really need to sit down w/ all your possessions & sort out what means something to you because space is precious in the few suitcases I have room for. After spending a few fun & packed days (Kennywood w/ Pat, Dr. appointments, visiting Gommy, eating at every hometown favorite possible, training sessions w/ Skyler & Lucky, packing & repacking) @ home spending time w my parents, I headed east to Lancaster to pick up Chris' mom on the 12th, & then we drove straight to Philly to pick up Christopher @ the airport! I haven't seen this guy since I left Montana in May so, yea, I was a little excited to see him again. I then headed north w/ his family to Connecticut to visit w/ old friends of theirs, & stopping to finally meet Christopher's sister, as she was driving from Boston to Austin on her final move. But moving on from the details of it all, Christopher surprised me w/ an early birthday present of a day trip to Gloucester, MA for a whale watching trip w/ Yankee Fleet. WHAT A DAY! We ate dinner right on the docks & watched our boat, Yankee Freedom, come into the docks then took of for several hours whale watching. If I never get to go again, it will be okay b/c our day was just that damn good. I've put together a little video to show off some of the stuff of the day. I'm no editor by any means so bear w/ it. But it goes to show a small piece of an amazing surprise 22nd birthday present.

A small note about Yankee Fleet. They are a biological team that pays for its research trips by taking tourists out on whale watches w/ them. If you ever go on a whale watch, take yourself to Gloucester & be sure to use these guys. They won't let you down & you'd be helping a great cause.
video

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Turning 2 at the Zoo

For my niece, Emily's, 2nd birthday I took her & her momma to the Columbus Zoo for the day. We had a great day seeing all the animals & taking as many photos as possible till my camera batteries died.






Emily's least favorite animals were the gorilla's and the elephants as she kept telling me "I don't like it!" & almost crying to get away from the glass. I know it wasn't b/c they were large animals b/c she didn't have a problem w/ the rhinos. Sometimes I wish I could read what's in that kids head so I could understand why she acts the way she does.












Emily's favorite two animals were the flingos (flamingos) & pretty birds (lorikeets).







We spent some time in the lorikeet enclosure actually feeding the birds. Laura & I were "attacks" by birds landing all over us trying to get at the cup of nectar that we had in our hands. The other people in the enclosure kept asking the keepers "how do we get the birds to jump up on us like that?" Meanwhile Laura & I were trying to get all these birds off of us before we were covered in bird poop






Hope you can enjoy the pictures from our day at the zoo!













Friday, July 25, 2008

School's Out for Summer

So my time at National K-9 has come to an end. After 3 days of hands on testing followed by 6 grueling hours of written testing on Friday I finished school. My writing hand was completely sore & cramped by the end of the written testing but I made it through. Now I sit & wait to find out which certifications I will or will not receive. Keep your fingers crossed! I'll let you know when I do.
video
Although Skyler & I did not pass the Handicap Assistance Training hands on test, I still took the written test in hopes of passing it and someday acquiring the certifications. Our only flaws in the test were that she could not turn on the lights on command or successfully complete going from a heel on the left side, to the right, then back to the left w/out a little help from me. Here is a video that I took at the beginning stages of our mailbox training to see where both our flaws were in order to successfully complete this task. In order to complete the hands on test Skyler needed to be able to get the mail, pick up keys, coins, & a credit card from the ground & hand them back to me, as well as the heel on the right side & light switch. She really like to pull the string. lol

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Police K-9










To complete my last hands on requirement for my certifications in Police K-9 I had to lay on the ground w/ a trained attack dog about 10 ft away on a "hold'em" command. The I had to leap to my feet & take the bite from my "friend" Naton. Pending passing the written potion of the test, I passed the hands on portions of Police K-9 & will be getting my certification in a few weeks.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Puppy Preschool

What could possibly be more fun than spending every Saturday w/ a room full of puppies? Teaching the puppies how to grow up into confident, normal adult dogs! Today, in order to complete my testing to receive my puppy preschool certifications I had to help teach puppy preschool. Ben & I tag teamed teaching puppies how to go up & down the stairs as well as how to have proper manners around objects such as wheelchairs. We demonstrated to the puppy parents how to properly introduce these objects to their puppies & to get the puppies completely comfortable w/ them, all the while keeping their manners & being good little puppies.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pilot Dogs

Our class took a field trip to Pilot Dogs in downtown Columbus this morning. For those of you not familiar w/ Pilot Dogs, they are a non-profit organization that provides seeing eye dogs to the blind. I had the privileged of being completely blinded, then led through downtown Columbus with the assistance of Gibson, a 1 1/2 year old yellow lab that was a former graduate of National K9. He is assisting me down off a curb in the photo above. The purpose of our field trip was to not only show us what service dogs are capable of, but to allow us to know what it's like to put that much trust in to a dog. Could you completely blind yourself then hold onto a harness attached to a dog & trust him to get you across city streets safely? Some people have to ever single day of their lives. That's the value of a good dog trainer. ;-)Master's Course class photo at Pilot Dogs
Standing: (left to right) Pilot Dog's Head Trainer, Kyle, Cathy, Hope, Katie C, Lynsey, David, Tara, Bed, Lisa, & Pilot Dog's Apprentice Traner
Kneeling: Gibson, Shannon, Holly, Katie P.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Attack Suite

Today I had the privileged of robing myself in a full blown attack suite & letting my best bud Boomer come after me once again. Boomer has some sort of a grudge against me from he first time when we did only sleeve work . Today, I had the chance to agitate him, & then run out of the room, thru the dorms, & hide in a storage closet. Boomer was then given a release command, had to track me thru the dormitory, & then tear me out of the closet. That part I have on tape but I prob won't be able to share it on here. The work is amazing & Boomer is an incredible dog. I would say he is one of the top ten dogs in the country , if he's not #1. Chris has done amazing work w/ Boomer & I hope to someday achieve as much success as my mentors here. :-) *muah*

Monday, July 14, 2008

What are the first 3 words that come to mind when you think of a dog?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Canine Good Citizen


An unexpected twist started my day today as Skyler & I were given another chance to retake the AKC Canine Good Citizen test today. She failed the test the first time thru on the last portion of the last test when after performing a sit with a stay & a down w/ a stay the darn girl wouldn't come when called. At least I knew then that she could hold a command well! Well, today she passed w/ flying colors & I am happy to say so b/c this brings us one step closer to my ultimate goal w/ this girl as becoming an animal assisted therapy dog.
Classes are going well. We're up to 20 command, no dad I'm not going to name them all, but we're moving forward & I can't believe how far we've both come. 4 weeks ago this girl couldn't even sit on command or walk up steps comfortably. I'm amazed at how far everyone in the class has come too. We were told to look around carefully on the first day of class & try & remember what each dog was like on the first day to compare to how far they've come. Amazing stuff. I wouldn't trade this life changing experience for anything else in the world... except for maybe a few more hours of sleep. ;-)
Hope all is well w/ everyone. *muah*

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Mid Terms, Doggy Style

Two grueling days of testing are finally over. Yesterday were both of our hands on tests, the practical, which graded my skills as a trainer, and the Canine Good Citizen test, which graded Skyler's skills & manners in certain situations. The CGC came first & Sky-girl failed the test on the last portion of the last test. After being put into a down & then a sit position the dog is to come to the handler when called at about 10 ft away. She refused to leave her position, which tells me I'm atleast doing a good job teaching her to hold her commands, but we still need to work on come. About 4 people in the class passed the CGC this time around. The rest of us will be given another chance to pass it in 3 weeks during the finals. The 2nd hands on test, the practical, was a demonstration of every command up until this point that we have learned; heel, sit from the side, down from the side, down in motion, sit in motion, sit from the front, down from the front, come, stand, stay, finish, square off 90, kennel, & release. All of the mentioned commands have a built in stay until the dog it either released or given a new command. We passed! Then today was the written portion of the exam. I scored a 95 on my breed test, which yes, I'm very upset about. I really wanted to ace that test but I missed 2 obvious breeds & am hoping I answered enough extra credit to get a 100%. Then I spent from 9 am till 2:30pm writing out 22 pages worth of answers to the medical & general training test. I'll get my results back hopefully next week but it may be a little longer. Keep your fingers crossed! Our class also said goodbye to 3 of our classmates that we only enrolled in the 3 week program. We were all sad to say goodbye to Rick, Scott, & Nancy today & I'm going to miss you all along w/ Sugar, Logan, & Roxy! Stay in touch ya'll & let us know how the real world of dog training is going!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Classes are going great! We start on the utility course tomorrow. Skyler is breezing right thru her commands & already has multiple commands on her belt already after only a week. We've still got 2 more commands we're polishing up & then only 2 more to learn for us & then she's thru w/ basic obedience.

Monday, June 16, 2008

First Day of School


Today Skyler & I started taking classes at National K9 Learning Center. It is tradition in out family to take a photo in front of the door w/ our backpacks on on the first day of school in our family. So Skyler & I both donned out packs & smiled pretty before our training.

I was pleasantly surprised to return home from my first day of classes to a beautiful bouquet of flower & a balloon w/ a card w/ my name on it sitting on the kitchen table. Thanks for the flowers Christopher :-)