In preparation for our trip to Red Deer, AB tomorrow, I took Epic for a bath at the Dog Wash this evening. I let her run around the room while I got ready and this time, I had her climb into the tub herself. Epic has never been particularly fond of the tub, it’s been a grin and Bear it kind of thing for her. today, after I had finished bathing Epic, I used the nozzle to wash the remaining suds and hair towards the drain. Epic thought that biting at (and stomping on) the water was a grand time, I was so pleased to see her relax and enjoy herself that even though I was finished, I put another dollar in the machine and played with her a minute longer!
Week 16 – Day 1
Weight 17kg ~ 37lbs
Today we traveled to Red Deer Alberta where I am going to be teaching a rally obedience seminar. When the seminar was scheduled, I debated whether I should leave Epic with a friend of mine or take her with me on the plane. With the exception of staying a few evenings with Sean, she has never been without me at home for a whole day, much less overnight in a strange place. I have a few friends that would be willing to take her but I know how much work a puppy is and was not comfortable foisting that work on anyone. I considered the length of the flight, the airports we were flying in/out of and Epic’s comfort level in her airline style crate. I also considered Epic’s ability to settle into a new environment and meet new people with me.
After a week or so if deliberation,I decided that 3-4 hours (return trip) in her crate in an airplane and travelling with me to a new place would be equally or less stressful for her than staying home with a friend.
We flew out of the Brandon Airport (YBR) which is by far the tiniest airport I have ever been in. There is one commercial passenger flight into the airport and one out of the airport each day. Epic traveled in a VariKennel 400, tied together with cable ties. I have the proper bolts for the crate but feel the cable ties are more secure – they will not come undone unless someone cuts them, on purpose. I lined the kennel with a blanket from home sprayed D.A.P., clipped a dish to the door so the airline attendants could give Epic water in case of delays and and left a bully stick in the crate for her to chew on.
At the airport, I checked in, had the appropriate stickers placed on Epic’s crate (“live animal” and “this side up”). Then the label containing my flight info, and the baggage tag was attached to her crate and I had to take her through security. After security screening, Epic was wheeled away from me to the holding area just prior to boarding, and I have to admit, I had a teeny moment of panic.
Fortunately, the plane in and out of Brandon is a Bombardier Q400, a turboprop that carries all of 78 passengers. This plane is so small that we have to walk out onto the tarmac to board and we can see the baggage handlers loading the plane. As I walked out, I saw the two luggage baggage handlers look into the crate, smile and say something to Epic and then lift her gently up onto the conveyor. The other thing about these tiny planes is that when you sit in the back seats you can hear the guys loading the plane talking to each other…which means we could also hear any animals in distress and I didn’t hear any puppy screaming during the entire flight.
When we landed, Because I was sitting on the left side of the plane, I could see that Epic’s crate was the first thing off the plane. Once again, the baggage handlers looked into the crate, said something and then lifted her gently onto her very own cart and she was whisked away before I even got off the plane.
It was a bit of a hike from the plane to the baggage carousels but my friend Audra, who picked me up said she would wait by the oversized luggage belts so that Epic wouldn’t have to wait alone. As it was, Epic arrived before the rest of the baggage so we were able to collect her first. She did not look any worse for wear but I knew she would have to pee. Before heading outside we stopped to get Epic’s photo with one of the Calgary white hat volunteers who was a great sport and who also directed us to the small off leash dog potty area.
From the Calgary Airport, we headed straight to Audra’s in Red Deer where Epic settled in like a princess. She only got yelled at by Audra’s dogs once, and seemed not to be overly traumatised by it. This evening was her first sleepover, not at home, and she settled in perfectly in her crate with her blanket and toys from home. this is where having a crate trained puppy begins to pay off in spades!
Week 16 – Day 2
Today I taught a Really Seminar in Red Deer. Epic came with me and I set her up, in her crate, in the same area as the other dogs. I wanted to see how she would settle in and she did wonderfully either chewing her bully stick or watching the others quietly from her crate. Throughout the day, she was attended to mostly by Audra who fed her and took her out to potty. By the time the evening seminar rolled around she was a tad whiny and cranky but it was a very long day for all of us and she fell asleep quickly once we got back to Audra’s.
Week 16 – Day 3
After breakfast at about 8am, Epic napped in her crate until about 11:30am. I guess she was one tired puppy! Once we had breakfast, Audra and I took the dogs for a walk around her neighbourhood and to a park where Audra was kind enough to take some lovely photos of us.
After our walk , Audra and I took Epic and Gibson to Red Deer College for some tracking. We met up with some folks I had only known from facebook, Cindy and Marlee. By the time we got there both ladies had laid tracks for their dogs so we did a couple of short tracks with Epic. Audra showed me how to train the beginnings of footstep tracking (essentially one treat in each footstep) and Epic was incredibly enthusiastic. She has a unique style and lay down and crawled on the track. She was working, using her nose and following the footsteps/cookies….just on her belly. This is a style, heretofore unseen by Audra, Marilee or Cindy but no one suggested we change anything, I am guessing, because Epic was working through it. Towards the end of the track (at the jackpot) Epic did stand up to eat her cookies so I have a feeling that one day, she just might track on all 4 feet. Epic did two tracks and managed to eat a whole package of Smack Snacks in the process. With a full tummy and a big drink, I settled her in her crate in the van while Cindy’s two dogs and Gibson ran a track.
After tracking, Audra took Epic and I to the Red Deer Hospice for a visit. I have never been to a hospice or done any therapy work with Bear but was thrilled to have the opportunity for to meet some new people in a new environment – and to perhaps brighten someone’s day. The Hospice is a wonderful facility, very home like and when we walked in the first thing I noticed was the smell of some sort of delicious desert cooking – it did not smell like hospital at all. After meeting the staff, 3 residents indicated that they felt like having a puppy visit. Epic walked into each room bravely and went to greet each person. She sat nicely for cookies (or in one case, Cheetos) and then lay down quietly while Audra and I chatted with each person about her. She was incredibly interested in one woman’s knitting and the same woman’s knitted slippers – as interested as she is in my mittens at home (VERY!) but I managed to keep her distracted once I caught onto what had piqued her interest. We were there for maybe 45 minutes and she was a very good dog, especially considering her age. I have never really considered therapy work for Epic, it’s something that requires a certain amount of time, dedication and in some cases, a very thorough screening process. I have never felt that I had the time for this given my very long days and often very busy weekends, but it’s something I think Epic could be very good at, given her laid back personality.
After our hospice visit, Audra, Cindy, and I went for dinner while Epic rested in her crate. When we returned to Audra’s, Epic was cranky, restless and incredibly mouthy, something I rarely see in her. Nothing would settle her down. After about 40 minutes of this, my frustration was skyrocketing, which is also rare, so I decided to settle in her crate in the guest room to see if she was so overtired, she couldn’t stop. I took her down to her crate settled her in with a bully stick, turned the light out and shut the door behind me. I did not hear a peep from Epic for the rest of the evening. Evidently, the weekend’s activities were catching up to her and she needed her sleep. I let her to potty once before I went to bed and then she settled in for the rest of the evening.
Week 16 – Day 4
Today we returned home from Red Deer. Epic did wonderfully again on the plane. Since we left from a larger airport a baggage handler had to take her from security to the plane in Calgary but I did see her come off the plane on the other end.
Later in the day, Sean returned home early from Cyprus. I wasn’t sure how Epic would react to him but she remembered him and was as excited to see him as the rest of us!
Week 16 – Day 6
The rest of this week has been low key for all of us, given the busy weekend. We did not go to class this week but we have continued to work on shaping the free stack for conformation throughout the day and things are coming along nicely.