Lyme Disease is more tenacious than a Master Earthdog

Many terrier owners are doing Earthdog Trials with their dogs this time of year.  You could be doing hunt-ups in long grasses, searching for hidden rats among the brush then WAITING as your dogs go to ground.  That’s on top of all the standing around you`ll be doing at the test site.

Somewhere along the way, a lyme-infected tick could hitch a ride–on you or your dog. So be on the lookout for ticks.   Recent reports say that 10% of black-legged ticks carry the bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) that`s responsible for Lyme Disease.

Lyme is officially on the rise in Canada, yet disease incidence numbers are probably grossly under-estimated.  While most dogs don’t get Lyme when they`re bitten by a tick, you`re much more like to become infected.  Be vigilant. Not all bites have a classic bullseye rash.

The Lyme Disease bacteria is formidable.  It’s tougher, smarter and way more tenacious than any Earthdog you`ll ever meet. Learn more and stay informed if you`re going to be out working with your Earthdog. Visit www.canlyme.com

Recent News on Lyme: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1215210–ticks-that-can-carry-lyme-disease-agent-spreading

On Burrs

Burrs happen. Suffering is (usually) optional.

I’ve had lots of practice with burrs.  I get into a lot of things.  Bossy and Bark find them  all the time and my mare grazed a paddock laden with burrs a few summers ago. Every day, until I trudged out with a wheel barrow and the will to tear every last of those dang plants out, she came in with a unicorn horn and a dreadlocked tail.  It took ages to get them out. Never to be cut out. Like a terrier’s beard.

Day after day. What to do?

Do the opposite of what comes naturally. Don’t hold the hair and pull the burrs out. Hold the burrs and pull the hair out.  It’s counter-intuitive. Yet it works for beards and manes and tails. And life.

When you’re on the hunt, burrs–and other sticky or prickly things–come with the terrain. Take hold of the problem and tease the good stuff out.

Just tease the good stuff out.

Don’t walk your dog today!

Don’t walk your dog?

What on earth would possess me, the ‘owner’ of two high-energy terriers who LOVE and need to trot for miles and miles and miles, to recommend that?  Simply: better results.

OK. I’m not really saying we shouldn’t walk our dogs.  What I’m offering is the thought that we walk with our dogs, not for our dogs.

This shift in perspective can make a lot of the dog-walking challenges disappear.

Both Bossy and Bark can be very forward. Especially in an exciting, new park or trail or when we’re out on wet, smell-enriched ground.  As a puppy and despite a lot of very solid obedience skills, Bossy pulled so hard in these settings I was sure she was going to collapse her windpipe. She could snowplow her Gentle L headhalter right off her nose. And Bark can still–at three and half–do a 5 or 6 km walk with his nose on the ground, tracking one inch ahead of his leash.  Just lovely!

Yet when I walk with Bossy and Bark and lose myself in music, or let my mind wander through the challenges of my work, we start walking together.   The dogs just fall in at a my side.  We’ll travel as a unit. We all forget the leashes.

I change. Then they change.

But whenever my attention snaps back to them, I’ll feel them in my hands again.  We’ve fallen out of the zone.

I’m sure the secret is in my more focused, peaceful and happy energy. In my deeper and even breathing.  In the speed we can walk when I relax, let my arms swing naturally and just go.

When I’m in this zone, I’m a whole lot more interesting and easy-going.  I’m someone Bossy and Bark want to walk with, rather than someone they have to walk with.

So don’t walk your dog today.  Take yourself for a walk; bring your dog(s) along for company. Enjoy the fresh air, sunshine and use of your own body and mind.  Lose yourself and find your dogs.  See what happens when you forget about demanding respect. You might discover that you’re someone who can actually command it.

Terriers will teach us that if we can change, our dogs can change

Terriers–and dogs in general–are much more “plastic” than we are.

A speaker at a semi-recent national veterinary conference reported that canine personality (and related behavioural issues) is fixed by about three years of age. The implication was: if you haven’t ‘fixed’ your dog’s issues by then, forget about it.  Time to despair?  I don’t think so.

Bossy changed a lot between three and four. So I, for one, conclude this assertion is “bunk!”, to quote my colourful first-year sociology prof, Kunkel.  Of course, if I’d stayed stuck so would have Bossy.

What’s more, if I could’ve figured out faster what I was doing–or not doing– in the situations that stressed and challenged her, I could’ve helped her find her softness and stillness sooner than she did.

Freeing ourselves with the idea that behaviour is malleable is a key to improving all our relationships. After all, isn’t change–and not stasis–the real way of life? Let’s be tenacious on that thought.

Let’s be open to having a terrier teach us.