Friday, September 6, 2013

From Bad to Horrible

I haven't had heart to update on Bella too much as of late. Things are not okay.

Bella is in an almost constant state of obsession nowadays. She's so stressed and unhappy that it is stressing me out to no end. I cannot pinpoint what exactly made this turn into such a huge problem, the behavior had definitely started midsummer but it seems it truly exploded after her surgery. The puppy probably plays some part but I have been super careful to not allow her to harass Bella.

The neighbor's cat is the focus point of Bella's obsession. The photos below are all taken of her place in the living room where she will stop and stare out the living room window.




This is where my capabilities end. Plastic bags have turned into cats that must be murdered, outside there is an army of ghost cats waiting to taunt Bella, she can't relax when we go out to pee or poop. Since the surgery she has pooped inside more often than outside. She has started peeing as little as once every 24 hours and then it's only when she can't hold it in any longer. She's stiff and unresponsive, she's super anxious. She's terribly terribly unhappy.
Two days ago she took off when I took her and Tosca to a place where I go to let them be off leash during our walk. She has not once in her lifetime done that before. She was lost for an hour and wouldn't answer my call.

I am so lost and demotivated. I have been working so hard to try to avoid her getting into the obsessive state while tending to her needs. It feels things just keep getting worse no matter what I do and I'm heartbroken about it. Right now there is no one enjoying any part of the day with Bella. She's just constantly in her program. I can do training with her but she's clocking out whenever there's a moment's break in my program.

I did try calling a behaviorist today only to find out she's taken the entire month of September off.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

This and That

I'm still debating whether to create a special blog for Tosca related things or keep Bella and Tosca stuff together in this blog.

However, here's a short video from today with Tosca when we went to meet two dogs owned by my cousin. The smaller is a daughter of two narcotics dogs (police dogs) and the older (furrier) has been SAR trained. I did mention them when I first really got interested in doing nosework with Bella as I got demonstration from both (tracking and SAR).

I probably would SAR train both Tosca and Bella if I would be willing to go through the general newbie SAR training. You can't really train for SAR in Iceland unless you intend to be on active duty. Tosca's grandmother passed her A-level test but we found out she run off a cliff and died in the fall. Tosca's brother is supposed to go into SAR.
Actually, I would like to train dogs for tracking/trailing, nosework and SAR if I had three different dogs. Does it show that I like scentwork?

But when it comes to Bella, after the surgery she became really snappy with Tosca. I have been devastated and trying to keep them separated to not have things escalate but suddenly this afternoon, Bella went right up to Tosca with wagging tail and wanted to play. There's a huge burden off my shoulder, now I know this will work even if it may take time for Bella to be at peace with that hyperactive puppy.

Friday, August 16, 2013

We're back!

Me and Bella took the entire family out of town for a week and just got back this afternoon. I admit I'm glad to be back!


My stepdaughter leaves tomorrow and my son goes back to kindergarten on Monday. Yup, the summer holidays are almost over! I'm actually excited for autumn and winter.

I took Bella's cone off this afternoon and so far she's behaving well. However I feel like I'm performing animal cruelty when applying the daily mouthwash as the vet instructed. It smells exactly like human mouthwash and I suspect the burning sensation is the same for a dog.

Little Tosca is growing like weed, she really enjoyed her time in the countryside.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Amazing Terriers

Bella's surgery was today and I'm pleased to say it went very well. As I write this we're taking it easy in the sofa now that the kids and puppy have gone to bed.

Bella after surgery

It was terrible to see her when I went to get her, she looked so vulnerable. She was shivering most of the evening and was half comatose to begin with. But when I took her outside to pee she was going to charge off (in slow-motion) and wasn't going to give an inch when it came to getting food. She even got the bodysuit I put her into off.

She's supposed to take it easy tomorrow and the day after, I was sweating about her getting peace and quiet in this busy home, now I'm worried how to hold her back! Terriers are just amazing little fighters no matter what life throws at them.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


I had a vet look at Bella's molar this morning and it was very clear cut, it has to come out. It's in two individual pieces, it's cloven from bottom and right through the root. I have known the entire weekend that it would come to this but when the vet told me I started feeling anxious and trying to imagine that I didn't need to put Bella through this. Which of course is just not true.

The vet was ready to do the surgery today but after discussing spaying with her we decided to do both operations tomorrow so she wouldn't have to go through anesthesia twice. I can't stop thinking if I'm being unfair on Bella making her go through these two operations at once. I want what's best for her but sometimes it's hard to know what's best.

Tosca 8 weeks

Bella did get antibiotics today and has been gung-ho all day but when playing with Tosca earlier this evening I think something started hurting and she went from wanting to play to running away from Tosca with her tail between her legs so I split them up. I'm really glad the tooth will be extracted first thing tomorrow morning, it's an infection waiting to happen.

I'm actually quite stressed! 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Summer Holidays

We got our puppy on Friday a week ago. Say hello to Tosca.

Tosca 8 weeks

My stepdaughter came to us for three weeks the day after so we currently have a full house! Things are just settling into some kind of routine now and I'm starting to catch a break on moments like now, where my fiancé has taken the two older kids leaving me with the youngest and the dogs. Yes, that's called a break in my household!

Bella was very disgruntled about the dog intrusion the first two days but now she's always wanting to play with the puppy. If she's not playing, she's obsessing about our new neighbors cat as seen below.


Bella is a great dog, but oh my gosh, I hate dealing with the obsessive behavior!! She will hang in this spot for hours if she is allowed, and the cat is always jumping up and down our fence which reinforces Bella's obsession.

For some bad news, I found out yesterday that one of Bella's molars is broken. It seems pretty bad, it's split from bottom and seems to go further up than the gums. I could move the fragment before she flinched. I'm gutted not having seen it before because this is a long weekend in Iceland and I can't make a vet appointment until Tuesday at the earliest.
I have no idea when it happened or how, I'm just going to have to watch it closely for any signs of infection.

I'll try to do some puppy-spam soon but here's two more photos to begin with:

Tosca 8 weeks

Tosca 8 weeks

My 9 week puppy is already taller than Bella!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Some News

Okay, I'm done with all the melodrama for now. Let's just say I had a bad week.

Bella the deck dog

Bella has false pregnancy but it seems a fairly mild case as the only side effect I notice is that she lactates and I believe another symptom was that for a few days she was peeing unusually little, like once every 24 hours. I was driving myself mad taking her out almost like a puppy and watching her for a sign of any illness.

However she seems just fine now (it's not fully over). I'm watching out for whatever but she's pretty much her normal happy self. Maybe even a little more playful than usual for some reason.

Bella the deck dog

We finally finished building the deck and painted it so now I suddenly have more time to relax. So I decided to use leftover timber to improve the jumps I built over a year ago. Now I've got one sturdy jump that goes up to 55cm or so.

Bella the deck dog

I've been focusing on finding ways to engage Bella more in training and have been reading and watching a ton of stuff to help us break through the rut we got into earlier in the summer. We're doing touch training (nose touching hand) and it was easy as pie for her to learn the gist of the game in one session. Now I'm focusing on having fun building on it. I already see the huge benefit of it doing heeling.
I am also trying yet again to use toys as rewards. After my research I'm less frustrated about it though. I'm just glad for times such as today when she jumped for me in order to chase a ball.

Bella the deck dog

Anyway, what riled me up last week was that we did look at a 4 year old German Shepherd that was up for adoption. We were fully committed to the adoption but then then I don't know what happened. The owner was super super busy and kept postponing things until we just didn't want to participate in it and dropped out of the deal.
I was pretty gutted because I've secretly been wanting another dog and was scouting for suitable matches amidst all the Border Collie mixes available. That's when things got really weird all of the sudden we ended up at a German Shepherd breeder's home. Although it happened very quickly I had been thinking about it for a very long time so it wasn't really too difficult to make the decision to get a puppy. Yes, a GSD puppy.

We're picking our little girl up tomorrow afternoon after her vet check and puppy shots, yippee!

Bella the deck dog

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Today afternoon was bad in so many ways. After the kids had fallen asleep and I could finally lie down in the sofa I thought I could just enjoy the rest of the evening in peace and quiet and go to bed. There must be something in the air tonight because that's not what happened.

Bella was lying in the sofa with me and when I was petting her my hand hit a wet and sticky patch. That's when I realized that it was milk. She's pseudo-pregnant. Nooooo!

Summer Life

It looks like a lot of people on my blogroll are enjoying their summer away from the computer. Me and Bella are stuck in the rain in Iceland but we are just getting out and doing our thing. Nothing out of the ordinary and with the constant rain I don't always bother taking the camera with me.

We have no camping trips planned, no trips abroad or anything like that. And still... there is something exciting that may be happening to us soon. I don't want to jinx anything by including spoilers since recently everything I want to happen falls through. There will be no tracking course next weekend, for example.

Anyway, me and Bella hope everyone is having a great busy dog summer!

Friday, July 5, 2013

On a Rainy Day

This weekend we'll have lots and lots and lots of rain. Wind too. So what better things to do than go play fetch on empty fields while all the other dogs and owners are hiding from the rain at home?

Bella the Border Terrier

It was great getting out of the house, all the kids are here and it's nice to take a breather away from them all. We also walked for a bit.

Bella the Border Terrier

My son  got his two year old hands on the camera and I completely forgot to check its settings as I stood in the rain. I messed up every photo except those two above. Below is mine and Bella's idea of artistic...

Bella the Border Terrier

Happy weekend to everyone!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Life With a Terrier

I have had lots on my mind lately. Last Monday I went tracking with Bella and honestly I just wanted to throw in the towel. I have been working on building distance to her tracks and it's just not working. I had to cut the track short as she had just stopped trying. However she did re-locate and finish and found all the articles so it wasn't entirely horrible.


So I decided to stop working myself into a frenzy about it and remind myself what Bella is good at. Being my pet and walking/biking companion. So we went out for a 7km walk yesterday evening.


I took her to an area that I used to bike in before getting her. I recall how I dreamt about biking these trails with a dog running around. I was only walking now but it was fun having the dog.
We landed right behind two women with 6 or 7 Cavaliers and Bella was about to hyperventilate out of excitement so I took her down another path so I could set her loose as this area allows dogs off leash. We took the photo above on the bench and looked across the small lake called Red-Lake (Rauðavatn).


Beyond the lake is the neighborhood I live in. I literally live on the outskirts of Reykjavík city and it's surrounded by nature. Highway number 1 is also there, this is the exit out of the city and to southern Iceland.

After taking the bench photo I went back to the trail and Bella must have thought we were returning because she bolted off back the way we came. One second she was there and the next she was just gone. I had to go back and had a good view over a large area but didn't see her. I knew she had followed the Cavaliers and just waited to hear barking. It never happened, after some time I heard her returning and called her to me and we were able to continue.


We also met two worried Golden Plover parents that were trying to fake being wingbroken to get us away from their young. Bella doesn't bother chasing birds and after being made a fool from another one last Monday she wasn't going to let this trick fool her again.


We kept going in the nice evening sun, we even met another older Cavalier who Bella liked so much that she was going to follow him the other way. It was just wonderful to go out and not frustrate myself with what Bella isn't. I'm going to take a few steps back and work on making things more fun for both of us.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Back and Forth

Last weekend was wonderful, we finally got some sun and it meant staying out as much as possible. On Friday morning me and Bella took two short tracks and since the weather was so good we went on a walk where she could be off leash.


I did the track to decide whether to sign up for the tracking test on 7th July. I thought it might be alright to go with the sole purpose of seeing how it would go. Another part of me wanted to be ready/was scared. I ended up deciding not to and wasn't too bothered.


Today I went and laid a rather complicated track, I meant to do a longer fairly simple one but I found such a nice spot with tall trees that I had to do all sorts of turns. It went well and Bella is already getting very good at marking with the method I eventually chose.


Then came the kicker. After I come home I check my facebook and the first thing I see is a notice that the sign-up date for the tracking test was pushed back until July 1st. Cue the start of yet another rollercoaster of what I want to do!


If I enter it won't be because I know we will pass for certain but rather as a test and seeing where we stand. I have until July 1st to make up my mind.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Those Warm Summer Days

Bella has received some comments that she appears too busy and must be careful to not forget her naps. So here's some proof that there is downtime in our household.

Bella Relaxing

Today we had the first super good summer day so me and Bella tanned out on the deck we are building in our back yard.

Bella Relaxing

In the evening, I went to watch an Obedience test while Bella practiced lying still in the sofa while I was gone. Last time I went she dumped the trash all over the floor so we're already improving in the sport, right?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Different Sort of Adventure

I recently tried my new bike carrier recently and took Bella and my rarely used Mountain Bike to a very exotic (ha! ha!) place right next to highway number 1. Like under 25 yards away from it. In my defense a small river separated us from the highway and it was late in the evening and I live in Iceland after all.


Considering the photos were taken around midnight I'm not sure I should say the lighting conditions were crappy, but it explains the blue hue.

Anyway, I biked 2 miles on a dirt rode with Bella unleashed and I haven't seen her this genuinely ecstatic for a long time. She ran like around the little devil she is, running some distance in front of me and stopped to sniff and enjoy the scenery before running off again. She ran alongside me and looked at me with pure joy in her face.

Mountain Biking

I'm glad she had so much fun because I love mountain biking and have been wanting to do this kind of biking with her for over two years but due to physical constraints and not having a bike carrier I haven't been able to. I'm not ready for more than dirt packed roads but we'll get there. I'm healing fantastically!


On a worse note, after getting home tonight from biking in the neighborhood I saw an announcement that a foreign guest judge will be judging Tracking tests for the German Shepherd division in early July and that other breeds are welcome to enter. My competitive side really really wants to enter but I'm not sure we'll be fully ready by then. Too many challenges, so little time! We'll see what we can do, at least I can observe the test if I fail to be ready.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Dog and her Hats

Things are crazy in every sort of way here at home. We received seven large boxes full of baby clothes for the little one. They were so many we lost them all. When Bella had finished locating the kids under the stashes of clothes we started a hat party.

Dog Parties
Magnus was easiest to find, he screams the loudest

Dog Parties

Dog Parties
We also discovered an 80's baby, we tried to bring her back to our time by adding a classy hat.

Dog Parties
The big sister was even buried under everything. Bella was getting bored of her own party by then and hid under her hat.

Dog Parties
Yet she couldn't resist trying on one more hat before calling it quits and returning to her daylong nap.

We're also building a deck. I would be lying if I said that my home is clean and tidy these days. However, me and Bella are very patient for now as we foresee a lot of late night cocktails in July in the privacy of our fenced deck.

Friday, May 31, 2013


Me and Bella did some tracking this evening, I did a mini-tracking test simulation with 3 articles, two turns and half the distance a tracking I test is. I tried inserting the track below.

Sjá Capital Region á stærra korti

I'm really happy with how it went. This is the longest track I've done with Bella so far. It was aged about 10 minutes when I started and it took us 15 minutes to complete. The first leg was very good, then when reaching the turn she missed it but worked herself back to it after some swaying back and forth.
When she was securely on the second leg it was all rainbows and unicorns as before, until we reached the turn. She didn't quite catch the turn, but was a lot more confident in searching for it and it and was back on the final leg.

The final leg was without a doubt the most challenging. She worked half of it without a fuss but then she had clearly gotten less focused on the job and was swinging to the sides sniffing and biting grass. She even tried to roll but then I finally interfered and told her to track. Which she did. And finished. Yay!

If I nail the marking, we'll nail the test. I have the entire summer to build up distance. I think I might even just train for the Track II test in October because the Track I test is so simple. (Please no one bring this post back up if I fail the test down the line! haha)

Last Few Days

Last weekend me and the whole family went to a cabin we've been to many times before. We were hoping to get some sun and mild weather but spring in Iceland has been aborted so we got rain, lots of wind and cold weather.


In general it was a good excuse to be lazy. I did lay one track for her and it was excellent, except I jumped the gun a bit and forgot to give her plenty enough time to pee before putting the harness on. Once the harness was on she was just running around trying to find the start of the scent and when she found it she got her moment of zen and decided to pee on it. Pure handler mistake there!

I really need to start working on teaching her to mark objects when tracking. I am just torn between whether to teach her to  pick it up -which I just recently knew was allowed- or sit/lay down. I had started teaching her to sit down when doing the peppermint detection training but haven't gone very far with it as I had to throw my idea of using balls into the ocean. She's not toy driven. at. all. It had turned into her seeing the ball go down, then instead of trying to get the ball and sniff where the scent was she just stood back and stared at me, except she sometimes sat down because she knew that had something to do with it. Stalemate!


On Monday I crashed something awful, I barely got out of bed without getting ridiculously dizzy and whatnot. It took me two more days to snap out of it and yesterday I was next to normal, just in time to watch an Obedience competition. It offered Bronze grading and Obedience I. I am aiming to do a tracking test next fall and have been considering if I should give the Bronze obedience test a try. I spoke to a trainer there (and a Border Terrier owner!) and she was encouraging me to give it a go.
What cripples me the most is the fear of Bella running away from me during testing. Memories of me chasing her around the agility arena still haunt me. Since I'm on maternity leave this summer that it's an excellent opportunity for me to train her in areas with distractions and see where it gets us. I know she can do this, we just need to work hard.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Day Off

Two weekends ago me and fiancé went to a hotel out of town. I was so busy taking care of what to do with the two year old and packing for the little one who would stay with us that the night before leaving I realized I had completely forgotten to make arrangements for Bella.
There's no such thing as dog friendly hotels in Iceland and just recently some camping sites have started allowing dogs to stay. I was really disappointed in myself.

But to make the best out of things I decided to check the weather forecast and the following night promised cloud and rain. If it would come true it would mean Bella could sleep in the car overnight. Despite it being spring the temperature is fairly low.


The drive was a lot of fun, we drove through a fjord that's called Hvalfjörður which translates as Whale-fjord. It's a short driving distance from the city and used to be the only way to get to western Iceland but a tunnel rendered the road useless and now it's barely used.

When we reached the hotel I was freaking out because the sun was shining and there was no way I would let Bella stay in the car that way. I was trying to figure out if and how I could smuggle her inside or what else I could do. Thankfully, while I was agonizing over what to do, the sky thickened up and it started raining in the evening. Bella was in excellent shape the morning after.

On the way back home (and actually also on the way to the hotel, but I discarded the photos) we stopped to let Bella loose.


There was some running. And then:


Emergency brakes!


There's sniffing to do.


Sniffing at the beach.


More sniffing to do.


Back to the beach to.. yep, sniff!


I am fond of this last one, it just lacks the tracking line and we would look like professionals.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Starting Again

I have been a bit lazy with the camera in the past few days. The days fly by so quickly that I never get to do everything that I want to do.

Bella in the Sofa

I did attempt to sign me and Bella on a 10 week course in Obedience this summer but it was full. Maybe a spot will open up, maybe not. It doesn't look like there will be a tracking course for us either.

More excitingly, my physiotherapist assured me I would be biking this summer and encouraged me to give it a go whenever I felt I was up to it. So I went on a 2 minute ride on Monday with no bad results. So today I went ahead and took Bella with me on a short 5 minute jog.

Bella Biking

She looks very calm and stoic in these two pictures but in fact she was running back and forth whining because she was so excited to go.

Bella Biking

As expected she still pulls like a freight train. I need to put effort into breaking that habit if I am to allow her to bike with me this summer. What's more exciting is that now I finally have a car that can haul bikes which means I can also find biking spots where she can be off leash. I've dreamt about that for several years now.

What a fantastic summer this will be!