Saturday, February 25, 2012

Some Mistakes End Well

Since my fall on Wednesday I am recovering amazingly well. I feel like I've hit some kind of a jackpot when it comes to getting away easy. I did lose a day and a half at work and am still sore and can't spend too much time in front of the computer or doing much else but the swellings are mostly gone and I am less sore. On Thursday and Friday I was roaming around the apartment and didn't know what to do with myself since I couldn't sit, lie or stand for any length of time.

The only positive thing is that with my whiplash injury, of the things I can do (which aren't many), I can -and it's actually good for me- for a walk with Bella.

Today I am doing a little better and had more stamina. I took Bella and the family just outisde the city where we could fool around a bit. Amazingly enough, it was rather cold and snowy at that location!

Bella Ready to Go

Bella was eager to play and glad to be let loose after some time leashwalking/biking only.

Bella Caught It

I bought some cheapo squaky toy in a building shop. Bella was very happy with it.

Bella, Ready to Go

Wonky tongue and facial expression!

Bella sprinting

When I started looking at the photos, the first few previews looked pretty good but when I zoomed in I was really disappointed. I had forgotten to correct the ISO settings on the camera since shooting in a badly lit riding arena! Oh noes!
However, when I disregarded the noise level in the photos, I started realizing that the camera managed some super impressive shutter speeds. For the first time, I had managed to shoot action stills!

Bella Waiting to Go

Bella waiting on my fiancé's daughter to throw the squaky toy.

Bella Leaping

Bouncing like a stag

Bella Sprinting

Sprinting like a greyhound

Bella Strutting

Strutting like an Arabian Horse

Bella Sprinting

Sprinting some more

Where's Bella??

Whooops! Where's Bella??

Bella Sprinting

Bella really enjoyed her new toy

Bella Sprinting

She wasn't going to get caught


Pretty doggy

What was that?

Whuuut?! Oh, Bella says no more photos today 'cuz I ish shy'.

Looks like I will be fooling around some more with different ISO settings and seeing where it takes me. ISO 2500 like all of the above photos are is pretty high and gives a lot of noise close up but I need to see what effect lower ISO settings have on the shutter speed.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Took a Little Tumble

I spent a little extra time in the riding arena after riding class last night to try to figure something out that's on a test we will be taking. Riding in a large circle, my horse stumbled badly and I was thrown into a somersault off of him. I can't describe in full earnest what sort of horrible thoughts went through my head when I was with my head pressed to the ground and my body weight pushing down on my neck in a strange twist as I was still falling -causing my neck to make some awful cracking noises.

I had a small shock then and there and at first I just grasped my neck with both hands and didn't dare move. Slowly I figured out that I could move all limbs and at that point I simply started crying. Out of relief, perhaps.

After waiting into the night, my X-Rays came out clean and I seem to be lucky to get away with whiplash injuries, mainly a stiff sore neck and some pain.

About my riding, I don't know. I have had recurring thoughts for some time that my passion for it is gone. Yesterday my friend who came with me to the ER was urging me to try to get back in the saddle as soon as I can. It's a well known mantra to step right back into the saddle after a fall to help get over the fear before it has time to build. I got really upset just at the thought of it and am now upset just thinking about it. Falling through my horse stumbling has been a fear of mine for several years now and I've managed it so far. Now that I've had this experience I just don't know.

Is it strange that I am also really annoyed about me not being able to work on finishing the agility jumps I've been making and painting for Bella as I had planned? At the ER I kept thinking about how I was losing valuable painting time!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Looking Ahead

I was a little upset last night after agility and feeling disheartened. Today I put my thinking hat back on and after reading something I realised I'm not the only one who has experienced this kind of behaviour. I believe I need to take a few steps back and focus on breaking the toxic mindset that the agility is creating. I believe this is more of an overstimulated dog problem rather than an obedience problem.

I am going to work on our problem from that angle for now and see if I can gather some more information on strategies to break the habit.

Today was fun though, I went into Ikea after work and bought some storage shelves -to create jumps! I am not fully finished yet but so far I really like them. I bought enough for 2 jumps but I may get more pieces and go up to 4 jumps.

Homemade Agility Jump

With the snow gone me and Bella should be able to have a little fun out in our yard! I now have jumps and a weave. I also have a cheapo Ikea tunnel but it's rather lightweight and sometimes spooks my small hearted Bella.

Beauty is Pain -For the Human at Least

After a fellow Border Terrier Zack got a new collar at the end of January through etsy, I have been obsessed. Seriously! I even considered getting a new dog just to be able to sport some of the collars I found there but my fiancé wouldn't hear of it. I don't get it!

Truth be told, sometimes it's tough owning such a scruffy looking pirate dog like Bella. Bright pink swarovski collars are, by default, eliminated. In my head, I just can't envision it. So I started looking at something a little more rugged looking.

Hmmm... perhaps a little too big and too over the top for a small terrier. So I kept at it, trying to tone it down a little but not really finding the balance between tough looking yet plain and well crafted. After endless browsing I got an idea to search for harnesses, after all I usually have Bella wearing one. On page one I saw a cute dog named Steve wearing a really badass leather harness.

Oh wow, something made out of rugged looking leather for small dogs! Even the letters make it look like such a rough cute item -just the look me and Bella are going for. I had to have it and added a bright orange collar for different occasions. I'm super excited now and can't wait for it to be shipped across the Atlantic.

The harness is from Gangs of New Yorkie if anyone wants to take a look. 

Now I better get to stripping and finish trimming Bella's nails in time!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday Blues -Agility

Sundays are agility days. In the hopes of helping Bella focus I took her and baby out for a bike ride today. We did get some nice sprinting done and Bella had a lot of fun.

Then comes agility in the evening and it took her 50 minutes of the entire 60 to start getting semi-calm. She was absolutely insane to begin with and I had at most 1% of her attention. I am almost at my wits end with her and at the same time trying staying calm and working through this systematically.

I think one problem of ours is the fact that I am so worried about losing her from me that I tend to get into a hunched position which ruins the communication. When I straighten up and take the lead it does give better results but before I know it Bella has run off, so I get hunched again. With all this craziness going on I have cut back to doing one item or a sequence of two, three at most. I try to stop and praise her like there's no tomorrow. Sometimes it works but sometimes she's run off before I get the chance to or if I stop and plan to reward, she takes that as a sign it's the perfect opportunity for her to run off.

This week I am going to try to find time to take her somewhere I can turn her loose and work on sit/lie-stay when she's off-leash and with plenty of distractions but not the intense '10 other dogs' distraction. I have to crack this! My sweet and eager dog has to be able to function in agility class so that we can both enjoy it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Winter Wonderland

This Saturday turned out to be one of those perfect winter days. A little chilly but gorgeous weather and the sun was even out. The days are getting longer now which is a blessing. There's nothing more energy zapping than endless dark during those toughest winter months.

  Bella biking

Bella was over the moon at being able to stretch her legs and really run. Iceland has such a terrible attitude towards dogs that they are almost nowhere allowed to be off leash and there are only two designated dog areas in the city. Being able to go by bike is the best way to burn off some excess energy.

Bella biking

Bella loves to be able to pick up the pace and above is her 'aren't we going to keep at it??' position. She'll almost sit down, tense up and start whining at me for not being on the move. She's impatient like that. It used to annoy me at first but over the time I've realized that it's just her expressing excitement.

Bella's Blind Side

Focused and ready for whatever. Bella is truly my best outdoor partner. This summer I would like to take her biking in the country. More on that later!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Even Pirate Dogs Have Weaknesses

Winter continues here in Iceland and the snow has returned. I am continuously sick and it is getting more than a little annoying. During the snow free days this week with perfect weather and me doing alright I had planned on going out for the first bike ride with Bella this year. To my disappointment, the tyre tube exploded and I had no extras. Argh!

Bella is getting the hang of the hind leg pivoting to the point that she has offered the behaviour a few times on her own with no prompting and no object on the floor. She is offering it pretty consistently with a book although she uses it less and less. It is rewarding seeing the work pay off.

At home, Bella is usually calm and quiet. There is however one or two actions here that really get her riled up, I was playing around with the camera around one of the transitions tonight. Below is a picture of Bella right outside the kitchen, watching what is going on there in the hope of getting something edible thrown at her.


Less than a minute later, the signs of distress are clear and she has moved to the living rooms, what's going on Bella...?

Bella Upset

"I don't feel so good right now, what do you want with me?"



Ding! Ding! Ding! My fiancé cooking with the frying pan. Without a fail, it makes Bella go into hiding. I think it must be the noise or smell that makes her so upset. There was a time where I would try to coax her into being nearby but she still felt really bad so now I just leave her be. She comes back as soon as we stop using it and start eating. She does the same as soon as we start cutting onion. That one I understand well enough.

Finally, one picture of me, my horse and stepdaughter who participated in a costume competition. We found this ridiculously big sword that we just had to buy and she rode like a true skeleton knight.

Costume Competition

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Big Problem

In only about 24 hours from Sunday evening to Monday evening I had my main problem in animal handling staring me in the face.

I'm soft.

This is something I didn't use to be. I'm not sure how it happened but this has been haunting me for the past few years. I am too soft to claim what I want, too soft to growl when I need to and keep at it with even more enthusiasm. I'm stubborn alright but too often tend to go the sneaky way to reach my goal which can be good but truthfully -it doesn't always work.

This firm element got beaten into me during my training for work. Two years of braintraining got me somewhere. If someone is not obeying instruction on the frequency I'm lighting quick draw out the no-nonsense part of myself. I'm really firm during those encounters.

I've been thinking about how I didn't use to be soft. I was more gutsy as a rider and was firm but fair. Now the firm part seems to be a joke. I can't keep my dog's attention well enough and my horse has gotten so bold he doesn't care about anything as long as he has things his way. Both are a treat to train and work with when the going is good. It just seems to be more on their terms than mine that they decide when to listen...

It's not that I don't believe in my abilities as a trainer. I am fair and I can be firm but it seems now that under pressure, I get soft.

Additionally, it hurts when people comment on something I am trying my hardest to prevent, as if it's all my fault and there's nothing I'm doing about it. I received two such comments this weekend on Bella and my horse and I do feel both were unfair in some sense, one less than the other. Maybe it's a sign of my weekness that I've been moping and feeling bad about it rather than "plugging into my controller mode" and dealing with it.

This week, I've sometimes just wanted to fall down to the earth and throw a big tantrum followed by an even bigger cryfest. However, there's a lot of positive signs as well, my animals are responding to my training and tonight my riding instructor even complimented my horse's knowledge after he gave up fighting her. Bella's pivot training is only lagging due to my own lack of time. This of course means that I AM doing something right. Now I just need to bring the Air Traffic Controller in me to my training sessions.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

When the Snow is Gone

It's February and this is my first post of 2012, I hope the new year is treating everyone well so far!

In Iceland we have had the toughest winter now for a few years and the walking paths have almost been inaccessible for two months. Last week it finally started to rain and now a week later almost all the snow is gone... Hurray!

There hasn't been much going on in my doggy life lately, except that I became a co-founder of a lobby group for dog rights in Iceland. A few people started this group to lobby for an enclosed dog area in one of the central parks in the city and when more people showed interest it turned into something more. First and foremost we are going to lobby for dog parks in the city and larger towns, then later on perhaps focus on broader rights issues and establishing a more mature dog culture in Iceland.

With the snow gone, I hope to get more active both outside and on this blog. I hope to get us Bella in shape for a biking trip this coming July.