It seems the spring is here

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I don´t know how long it will stay but spring is here!

The snow disappears quickly now when the temperature raises to above 10° during daytime, last few days in a row. Training outside has been possible for a couple of weeks now. I have to look for flat surfaces in parks or soccer fields, sometimes even on golf fields in the neighbourhood. It is going to take time before our ordinary training surface at the dog clubs aroud here will be free from ice and dry.

But most important thing is returning of the light.

I need some positive happenings now as I feel I have had some backlash in my life lately.

First of all my back has become much worse over last few months and I suffer from severe pain both in my spine an legs. The laminectomy is planned on April 8th and I really hope that will bring me back to normal activity after I am healed. I am not able to walk the dogs more than what´s absolutely necessary and every step I take is a fight, despite the painkillers. I try to train as much as I can but it´s not so joyful as usually and I think my dogs can sense it.

The second backlash is the mating I attempted to carry out between Ruda and a boy called Skoll, a nice, happy, playfull Laekenois, a half brother of Compis. I was very happy Skolls owner allowed me to use him. I tested progesteron on Ruda and it was perfect for mating, I went to meet the boy and he did not show any interest in Ruda at all!!! He was just playing around with sticks and bathing in the lake and try to make her join him. And she wasn´t interested either. This was strange! Maybe the season she was in, only 3 months after the last one wasn´t a real one despite high progesterone value?

I was looking forward to this spring litter so much and I felt so disappointed! But what can be done? I can only wait to next spring. This will be the very last time I´ll try to have puppies with Ruda. I will also have more time to look for other males. The risk of getting a shorthaired Laekenois like Basqa from the combination with Skoll is the same as with Compis. Maybe I shall find a hairy male with nice, stable character?

Basqa has got some longer harsh hair lately. And she stopped growing at 62 cm which is a maximum for a bitch. I like her looks a lot but I do not think she can get a price at a show. Her body is perfect, she moves beautifully but the coat just isn´t there, especially furnishing.

 
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We will see what happens on Belgian Specialty, a 2 days show at the end of May. I have the intention of showing both Ruda and Basqa and I am very curious about the judges opinion. Both are very familliar with Belgian Shepherds and Rui is a Laekenois breeder as well. Even if we do not bring home any titles it will be nice to get a fair description.

Have to start some show training with the wild youngster tomorrow! I suppose it will take sometime before I can run after the surgery…. Well, I will deal with it when time comes. Now it´s time to enjoy every day of this early spring, winter has not said the last word yet!

 
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Ice Age

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This is how our driveway looks like now. The paths in the woods and around the house look similar. Pure ice. No way to walk without risk of breaking bones. Deep, wet snow outside them so it´s difficult to choose other ways but it is safer. The weather has been oscillating between mild days causing melting of the snow and cold nights making water freeze to ice. Hard time both for me and the dogs.

We have had so much snow that it is going to take ages before it all disappears. And the winter is not over yet so next blizzard is behind the corner. And everything will start all over again…

 
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Basqa runs as usual despite the ice but I have noticed she has a need to rest a lot more. Probably it requires more energy to keep balance. It´s just as well for we do not have so many possibilities to train. Tracking will have to wait until the snow disappears, and some sunny places are actually getting free from snow now, training obedience outside is still impossible. I am so afraid to train speedy excercises as it is so easy to get injured.

Last week we were on a training competition. Except that the results were not official everything else was as on regular obedience trial. Both Ruda and Prima did great! Prima got many highest marks and finished with an excellent grade despite one failed excercise. Ruda got a second place but I was very proud of her 9 points (of 10) for heelwork. She missed one excercise too, nothing that she cannot do but somehow she misunderstood me. No rewarding during the whole program, which I did not train with them yet. It felt so great to be there and show my clever dogs though I must admit I felt some anxiety though I knew it wasn´t real competition. I hope we can take part in such events more often now when the spring comes so I can start with Prima soon.

Now some disappointing news.

 
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Compis has been neutered! His recurrent problem with prostata, which made his mating difficult last time, has bothered him so much recently that his owner has decided to castrate him. Best decision for the dog, not so good for my future breeding plans…

Now I have to look for another male and it is so difficult! Ruda is related to all the males I really like. Here in Sweden I can find only one interesting male but he is just 2 years old. It´s enough for me, he is friendly and character tested, has been free X-rayed on hips and elbows so actually everything was up to his owner. And she said no. She wants hime to mature more.

To mess the things up totally Ruda came into heat only 3 months after the last one! It´s because Prima is in season. I would never have expected that!

Nobody can find a Laekenois male in just 2 weeks! So I have to wait until next spring.

I have decided I could travel to Laeken Fun Day in Holland this year and check if I can spot a nice male there. But it will take time! And Ruda is 5 years old already. I think next year would be the last to try!

Shall I try to keep my dream alive or shall I just give up?

Frozen world

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It is possible to walk on water provided that one would wait long enough. Last weekend we went to our favorite lake and checked the ice. It was thick enough for a car to drive on. We are having a proper winter this year. Without any exaggeration, for it could have been much colder and we could have had lots of snow, but the weather is winterlike. Which gives me hope for early spring this year. Nothing one can count on but a wish that will keep me alive a couple of months more. Until spring.

 
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The doggies don´t mind. They are not crazy about snow but they do not disaprove. However Xenon the Cat spends most of his time inside. He does not like his paws touch the disgusting white stuff. At the same time he would love to watch the birds from a closer distance. It seems like an impossible equation.

 
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I understand him very well. I TRY to love winter. I try hard every day. But I am happy watching days disappear fast though it´s my life and I do not have so much left of it. But every day gone gets me closer to spring and the life I love. Outside. With sun, green grass and unlimited training conditions…

Every now and then I take the dogs to new places for long walks where they can run free in order to compensate lost training time. I suspect it´s bigger problem for me then them. We train in a dog training hall at least once a week but it´s not enough. I can even train details in my own hallway, which I do sometimes. And I try to track with Basqa once or twice a week. The dogs seem to be happy.

 
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We even have another dog at home, staying for a short time, a little Chihuahua/Cairn terrier mix, almost 14 years old but very fit and happy.

 
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So nice to see how he always is ready to follow us on our walks despite the tiny size, high age and short legs. A very positive soul!

Well, Januari is almost over. Two tough monts are still ahead. I will survive!

 
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It´s Christmas time

 
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The snow is here and Santa has been around and holidays are long this year so we are happy. It´s not even that cold, last night we had exceptionally -10 degrees C, but today the temperature is just below freezing point and it feels mild. Two of my kids are away on Mallorca so the house is quiet and empty.

Less time spends on cleaning and cooking, more time on training dogs. I have to fight my usual winter depression, which makes me passive, but I cannot complain, this year I get some positive feedback from Basqa and it keeps me going. Partly because she is still a puppy and I know I cannot postpone working with her until tomorrow and partly because she is such an active young lady and she wants to do things. Right now she just collapsed after 2 walks in the woods, training in a dog training hall and rather long tracking, both on the road and in the woods. She is a talented tracking dog but today we had crossing tracks of wild animals and I noticed she was more interested to follow them. Everything can easily be seen in the snow now, so cool to be able to actually see exactly what the dog is doing. We are making progress in obedience as well. This looks promissing.

 
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She is as big as her mother and still shorthaired. I do not think she will ever look like a proper Laekenois…

Prima turned 3 years on Chrismas Eve. Hard to comprehend. For me it could have been 2. One year has slipped away without notice…

 
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I must say that easier dog to have around is difficult to find. Though some parts of her behaviour are completely strange to me and irritating. Like lurking at the door to bite Rudas front legs when she goes outside ( which makes Ruda stay at home) and attack her every time she wants to teach Basqa a lesson ( which Basqa really deserves) or play…

Yes, it happened again. Prima played with a toy with Basqa and Ruda wanted to join them. Prima atacked Ruda with aggression I would never imagine existed in her. I left them alone this time and run away in desperation. After a minute or so they stopped fighting and came looking for me.

I will be shaken and depressed every time it happens. It has never been any problem with my 3 Laekenois before. They could play and live together in perfect harmony. And now Ruda is afraid to move freely and every time they pass each other on a narrow path I can see stiffness in her body. I feel so sorry for her and for me in a way as well as our walks aren´t so relaxing as they used to be. Everything has started with the puppy. I suppose there was no meaning in having one…

 
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I am considering rehoming the puppy but not so seriously that I am actively looking for a new owner. I really like her and I would love to keep her but actually I should think about the future. I think in a long run it will be difficult for me to fullfill her needs and living in a house with frequent dog fights would be hard. Well we will see what happens, I hope I will find a reasonable solution soon, time flies…

 
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Dark time

 
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Difficult to take a positive picture at this time of year. I mean a picture that contains light. It´s been dark most of the time. Days are like nights and nights are completely black. When the light returns the temperature drops and it´s cold. But I think I prefere that though my hands are stiff and frozen and I have to put warm clothes on me that disturb free movement. We had very few cold and sunny days during November. And it´s just a beginning…Many difficult months wait ahead. I´m dreaming about moving to Spain during wintertime as soon as I retire, which can be quite soon. The hope is keeping me alive.

Yesterday I even had my hand operated which does not make things better. Nothing serious and it is my left hand but I have to change the way of rewarding the dogs and it is going to take time.

The nearest plan is to go to Swedish Winner Show with Ruda. I do not expect her to win any titles because she is not so enthusiastic about big shows and does show her best, but it will be nice to be there, meet others and watch obedience trial with the best competitors.

The doggies are doing well and are happy. The big ones are in love with each other as Ruda is in season right now and then they “make love not war”. Basqa is in teasing period and it really tests mine and the dogs´ patience. She barks a lot, steals everything from them, does not come when I call and is thoroughly sassy. She can steal food from the table and bite our shoes. Nothing special for a puppy but I never had one like her! I just hope she will get over that period without injuries as she moves around quickly and without watching. She has had few small accidents, leading to screaming and limping for a while but nothing serious. We have a lot of rocks, roots and ditches in the woods and one has to be careful. Will she ever learn? But she is really sweet in between so there still some hope that this part of her will eventually take over!

 
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Training season

 
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With 3 working dogs my days are completely filled. Thankfully there has been some changes at my job that allow me to have some more spare time that is happily spent at some excercise field at a dog club.

Little Basqa, though not so little in size, needs some special treatment as she does not resemble her mother in character at all. Ruda was a happy puppy with no special needs. She would play and run for a while and the lie down and rest. Basqa is an energy bomb ready to explode if not disarmed. Running and playing is not enough to tire her off. She needs some brain work as well, not only obedience training. I started tracking with her and this seems to work very well. I plan to start nosework training and searching hidden objects soon. I suppose she is a real piece of a working dog…

I am quite sure I would not keep her if I had a full litter with few bitches to choose between. Now I do not have a choice and maybe it´s for the best.

 
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The dog is thankfully a really charming type though sometimes a real badass. So sometimes I think she is too much for me, that she would be better off in a house with just one dog. Where she would not have to share the time and attention with 2 others. But this will pass soon, and she will settle down I hope.The only thing that´s worrying me is that she grows too quick. She is almost as big as her mother but just 5 months old…

 
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Last week I took part in two day obedience training course with two great coaches. We had the worst weather of this fall. Very cold ( we even got some of the seasons first snow) and windy first day and pouring rain and windy the second. I was very proud of my dogs! Both Prima and Ruda did great job despite the weather and this experience was just what I needed to get some inspiration to go on. The puppy was trained in between and made some progress as well. And all of them had to stay away from me in the club cottage and were behaving very well. Sometimes it is so important to get a proof from others that one is on the right path, especially for me, training alone most of the time. I`m happy I got some new energy for it might be needed for that long winter that´s ahead of us!

 
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Right now the weather is back to mild and I hope it will stay that way for a long time! The other day we had a pleasure to meet Christel with Compis and train the dogs together. I managed to get a nice pic of the little family!

 
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I really hope we will get a full litter from this combination as that might show a big diversity of fenotypes. Basqa looks a lot like her great grandfather- a Malinois. The harsh coat is coming but she will never get as much as any of her parents. Perfect for a working dog!

 

Back home after holiday in Poland

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Wonderful weather, lots of new and old places to visit, meeting many old friends and relatives, that was a holiday full of events! Something I really looked forward to but in the end got tired of. Next time I think I will choose something different. For Basqa it was maybe a great opportunity to get many new experiences but I am not sure if all of them were so positive as I hoped for.

 
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Running on sandy beaches and playing with waves, taking bath in rivers and lakes, meeting new people and dogs, travelling by ferry and car, all without problems. She has been very easy going most of the time. But meeting unleashed unfamiliar dogs running towards us , which is quite common in Poland, was not always easy. The dogs are generally very friendly but too quick and too excited. Some of them big.That was too much for her. It would be different if she got more time to get to know new dogs, then she would play and tease them to chase her. Like she did with our friends Jack Russel. People walking those unleashed dogs don´t care about others. They say their dogs are nice and all the others ought to love them! Unfortunately this is typical Polish ignorance, I wouldn´t even try to explain anything. They wouldn´t understand anyway. Such a pity!

 
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For me it was a jouney back to my childhood but in many ways a negative one. The environment has changed to the worse. I come from south part of Poland which suffers from dramatic changes in terms of increasing population and the traffic but no changes in terms of enviromental thinking are visible. Burning coal is common, as this is a cheapest way to warm the houses when nights become cold and doing that produces a lot of smog. Sometimes the air smelled so bad I was unwilling to take deep breath. It was so frustrating watching my beautiful country being so neglected! I am so lucky to live in Sweden and be able to breath fresh air!

 
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We would find nice places for long walks with the dogs still but how long can it last before it all collapses?

The second week was spent in Warsaw and I must say the air was a bit better as people can afford other sources of energy.

The last walk on Polish side offered a beautiful sunset at the Baltic sea.

 
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Coming back home wasn´t without problems. Prima was very happy to see me but growled hostile towards Ruda. It took two days to get them to walk close to each other and for me to relax. Though Ruda does not trust the Border any more. She keeps avoiding her and stays close to me. It makes me very sad! They used to be so good friends!

Now I am back to our ordinary routines. Working, training and trying to keep up with everyday duties and enjoyments. Exceptionally bright colors of fall this year add a lot of color to my life. This is time of a year when I tend to see everything in dark. It´s getting colder, it´s getting darker and I cannot do anything about it…Winter is on its way…

 
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Wonderful September

 
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The real fall begun today. Until today the weather was more summer-like but last night I was suprised by the very first frost. Cannot complain really though. It has been such a wonderful month, most of the time.

This September will be remembered as a month of bad things that got a happy ending. Hopefully all of them.

 
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First bad thing that happened was disappearing of our cat. Mr Cat was gone one day when we came back from work and did not show up for next 3 days. We contacted our closest neighbours, left the notes with his picture in all the postboxes around and searched for him everywhere. I knew he must have been locked somewhere, because he usually stays close to the house and comes quickly when called. I could not sleep. I was getting mad. On the fourth day a woman called and said she had seen a man with our cat. With help from mutual friends and neighbours we got Xenon back within an hour. A lonely man who is not completely clear-headed kept him closed at his place as company. What a relief it was having Xenon back home again!

 
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The weather, that allowed us to swim in our lake in September was not what I planned for. I entered Ruda for 2 obedience competitons hoping for moderate temperatures as I know she is affected by the heat. The first start was in the early afternoon on a hot and sunny day. I have never seen so dozy Ruda! We managed to collect about 200 points of 320 possible and a third prize. The only positive thing about this competition was that I did not give so much room to my usual nervousness. I was attentive and gave my all support to the dog. The positive feeling I took with me to the next trial. The day was again sunny and warm but the temperature was a few degrees lower and the air was clear. I acted again like a handler Ruda deserves and this time we made it! We got excellent with 256,5 points and with this result we are now allowed to start in class 3, the highest one! I am so proud of Ruda and even of myself and really hope theese two starts have opened a door for future trials without that paralizing fear I usually feel! Another happy ending!

 
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Now about the puppy. Basqa is 3,5 months old now but weighs 15kg and is 50cm high. We are going to have a monster! She has a half brother in Finland who is called My Little Pony by his owner. Will she be a female version of him? She looks more like Malinois still but harsh coat and furnishings are coming, so this should not be a problem. But will she stop growing in time? I doubt it… So I believe I have to forget about a show career and concentrate on training…Thankfully she is a very clever and easily trained pupil! And a very happy and playful puppy!

 
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Now about an event that I hope will have a happy ending!

Yesterday Prima attacked Ruda! I have never had dogs fighting within the pack and I am so worried! I have noticed some time ago that when I go somewhere with Ruda only and come back home Prima is not happy to see her. Ruda would friendly greet Prima but she just growls and goes away. Which, I thought was a bit strange as they are good friends but as long as it was just verbal I did not interfere. But yesterday when Ruda played with the puppy Prima jumped on her and started a real fight. I had to separate them as Prima would not listen to my stop command. She always does…

I can try, of course to avoid the known situations that trigger Primas hostile behaviour but our harmony has been shattered…I hope this would never happen again! Border Collies are strange…

 
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Such a pity as she is such a sweet dog most of the time and so patient with the puppy!

But I have promised myself that I will never accept such behaviour at home and if this happens again she will have to move to my younger son. He loves the idea as he is very fond of her but I hope I will never be forced to make such a decision!

 
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Next week we are going away for 2 weeks vacation in Poland. The plan was to take all three dogs with us but in this situation I will leave Prima with my boys at home. I do not think that would change anything but it will give me some extra time for the puppy and Prima would get some quality time with her favourite people. Let´s hope for the best!

 
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