Star dreaming

I love the late winter. I like to reflect on my past year and appreciate how much has changed for the better. Then I envision my future and build my plans for making them a reality. Bold, brave and above all else, very pleasurable.

Chilly

It’s just a tad cool here on South Vancouver Island and so I dug out the door cozies to block the drafts from under the doors. They are fairly well sealed but at minus 8 C every little bit helps.
Ruby, however, found a much better use for them.

Extraordinary

Whenever you decide to add a puppy or dog to your home, you take a risk.

If you really want that new puppy or dog, and you’re just utterly in love with the idea of adopting him or her, you’ll tend to ignore or downplay those risks.

As you grow in experience, you’re less likely to allow yourself to utterly fall in love, and more likely to struggle with the risks.

There are many fears, both of your own making, and those that are offered by others.

You fear that they won’t get along with your other dogs; that you aren’t the right one for them, that you won’t do them justice, or you’re not patient or kind enough. You might fear it’s too much work, you have too much on your plate right now or it’s just not the right time.

I had lots of what if’s and Carol and Lynda were patient with me, as I struggled with them.

Finally, I made the decision and I’m so glad I did.

Trust, this four month old puppy, is a wise, gentle, confident and joyous, and simply an extraordinary creature, who has brought greater harmony to our house.

I am so grateful for him.


Hunting in the rain

Pleased and proud of my inimitable Ruby, who today, earned her SDDA Starters title, finding hides in containers, interior and exterior searches.
This was her first trial. She had a wonderful time and so did I.
Sincere appreciation to the judge, Heather Wilson, and the K9 Scentinals organizers and volunteers for all of their efforts. The rain was torrential at times, but Heather’s smile never got washed away.

Trust


MysticIsle’s “Always Trust Your Heart” 

The latest addition to my family, is a sable Shetland Sheepdog.
I had hoped to breed my Ruby, the most amazing Schipperke in the universe, but in spite of my best efforts,  I was unsuccessful. 

When one door closes (or as it felt to me, multiple doors relentlessly keep slamming shut), sometimes, if you’re very lucky, another one opens.

On May 28th, my friends Carol and Linda, welcomed  two litters into the world, mothered by their beautiful Sheltie littermate sisters, Frany and Naish. 

I was honoured to be Frany’s conformation handler in the show ring. She showed off her lovely structure and movement in style. An agility dog, and a strong working Sheltie, her quality was recognized by the FCI judges who were present.

Carol and Linda raised these puppies relying on their considerable experience, which was informed by the current best puppy raising practices, including Puppy Culture and other quality sources. 

I visited the puppies, almost from the day they were born. One of my strongest motivations for breeding Ruby, was to be able to raise a Puppy Culture litter. I was denied that experience, so to have the opportunity see these puppies develop and grow was an extraordinary gift and I am so grateful.

I had the opportunity to meet the sire in person, to know and love the dam of a litter and I was generously welcomed into their home, to watch them grow from birth to adoption. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Thank you, Carol and Lynda. 

Mini-Mal

Soft spirit, 

Wild

Struggling to make sense

Of his world

He chases, dives, 

Leaps and growls

Pinning his fears to the ground, 

Growing braver, every day. 

He looks at me,

A fierce love

Loyal and brave

My mini-Mal

Rare and beautiful

Black Diamond. 

Pttthhhhhh

This little creature has been nibbling the flowers of a mustard plant. It’s been a challenge, trying to get an in focus picture of him. He’s very quick.

He takes each little flower in his beak and spits out the tiny petals. I can only assume that leaves him with something much more nutritious. The embryonic seed, perhaps?

I don’t feed the birds

I don’t feed the birds.

Instead, I do my utmost to plant and preserve the native plants of the land.

Today, in the middle of a little cold snap, I was rewarded with the sight of a robin feeding on the wrinkled fruits that hang on my Pacific Crabapple tree.

I am not sure if robins ‘cache’ their food for the future, but I’d like to imagine that this robin made a mental note last summer to come back to this tree waiting with its preserved bounty.

Last summer, when his world was a’brim with choices.

Twenty, Twenty one

The best thing about the year commonly known as 2021, is that it’s not 2020.

Unlike the year 2020, we’ve no plans, no big commitments, nada.

Why is that the best thing about this new year?
Well, clearly. We have no expectations. And no where to go, but up.

My Kaylah. Never forgotten. Always loved.

Penthouse to Sh**house

It was the Spring of 2016, at one of my first dog showing weekends, and my neighbour in the grooming hall was a very entertaining and experienced breeder/handler. He returned from the ring one time and I asked him how things went. He rolled his eyes theatrically, carefully placing his treasured Pomeranian on the table.”Sometimes you’re in the penthouse” he sighed, “and sometimes you’re in the sh**house.”

On July 6, 2019, I drove to Nanaimo BC to participate in a United Kennel Club show and obedience trial. Eight months earlier, Ruby had been awarded a UKC Best in Show as well as a “Total Dog” award for achieving a qualifying score in Rally the same day. We weren’t expecting another ‘penthouse’ experience but I hoped to gain some breed points and rally qualifications towards our titles.

That was not to be.

On our way to the show ring we trotted past an American Bull dog. He lunged and his leash slipped through his handler’s fingers. He covered roughly twenty feet in a couple of big strides, blindsiding Ruby. For the next few terrifying moments I frantically reached into a screaming mass of whirling dogs, trying to grab her. He bit back at my leg and then I saw he had her hindquarters in his jaws. That’s when I screamed my horror and despair to the universe, crying “Not my dog!” I was sure I’d lost her.

Several people had by then appeared and helped pull him away.

Someone put Ruby in my arms. We were immediately taken to the emergency veterinarian.

When we returned a couple of hours later, the nightmare deepened.

I sat at the registration table and wrote out my statement. The club president informed me that she had taken several statements that claimed that Ruby had been off leash, and that we had approached the American Bulldog. Oddly, the show chair insisted that earlier in the day she’d warned me to put Ruby on leash. That never happened. A false story was building and swirling disinformation seemed to be everywhere.

I packed up my crate, table and gear and left for the three hour journey home. Still in shock and some pain, I held onto the hope that surely, the truth would come out.

That night, the show officials sent me a form, entitled “Disqualified for Attacking” stating that my dog had attacked the American Bulldog, and that by signing, I accepted being disqualified from the UKC. I would not sign. The show official told me that they would send it into the UKC unsigned anyway and that it might go better for me if I signed. I said I could not sign because it was not true.

On Monday, July 8th, I contacted Nanaimo Animal Control, asking them to investigate the attack.

On July 12th, The United Kennel Club disqualified Ruby from the United Kennel Club, permanently banning us from ever participating in any UKC events.

I phoned the Animal Control officer several times over the following weeks. He was friendly, but vague. He admitted to being confused by the conflicting reports and statements. I asked him if I should continue to call and he said I could, but he probably would have nothing else to tell me.

I spent the next few months trying to seek justice for my dog and I. The Nanaimo show officials unanimously repeated the false story that I had caused the attack by having my dog off leash.

Unbeknownst to me, the case had been referred to a senior SPCA Officer.

The SPCA had left a single phone message on my message machine. I never received it. The SPCA did not send me a written copy of his report, nor did they attempt to contact me further.

In January, 2020, I used the FOI (Freedom of Information Act) to secure the Nanaimo Animal Control files from the City of Nanaimo. I learned what Mr. Fraser, the Senior SPCA officer had decided, based on all of the evidence. Here are some of the key points from his report.

• Rolph’s answer is consistent and supports her dog was in fact leashed at the time of attack

• Witness 1 says Schipperke was leashed and attack was unprovoked
• Witness 2 was nearby and by coincidence was watching and admiring the Am Bulldog’s stance and colour when the AM. Bulldog suddenly lunged forward. …saw the handler fumble for the leash and suddenly …was running toward the little black dog.
• These statements … causes me to believe that the Schipperke was leashed and the Am. Bulldog was not provoked to attack.

Actions to be taken :

• Owner of AM. Bulldog to be issued with a Dangerous Dog CAUTION

• Handler of Am. Bulldog to be issued with a Warning Notice Uncontrolled dog

• Owner of Schipperke… inform of these actions and our conclusion that …was not at fault.

You can read the redacted report here.

On February 27th, 2020, I informed the United Kennel Club of Mr. Fraser’s decision and requested that they restore Ruby to her previous status. There has been no response from the UKC.

To this day, neither the owner nor the handler of the American Bulldog that attacked Ruby have taken responsibility for their dog’s behaviour.

This experience destroyed my trust, not only in the Nanaimo Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club, but also in the dog showing community. I no longer trust in the reliability of the dog show officials nor in the dog show participants. I no longer consider dog shows to be safe environments.

Nevertheless, I am grateful for many things. I am grateful that Mr. Fraser had the ability to discern the truth and that his report exonerated us. I am grateful that although the American Bulldog was clearly young, prey driven and poorly handled, he did not do as much damage as he could have and Ruby escaped with her life.

I am grateful for the excellent medical and rehabilitation care that Ruby received and that she has recovered well. Here’s a short video record of her first week, post attack. One year later, she has regained much of her former confidence, but remains wary of large and fast moving dogs.

Finally, I am grateful for the love and support I received from my many friends.

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