Our big, baby girl is 3 today. Gosh time flies. What is even scarier is the fact that her life is potentially 1/3 over if you base it on the average life span of 8 years for a Berner. Of course our girl is going to live much longer than the average because she has a great example in longevity….her big brother, Wally the golden retriever, who is 16 years and 9 months old.
She got a giant salmon head for her birthday breakfast treat.
We received our official Advanced Title in the mail today. I didn’t realize it but we received a gold level title which means we scored 96% or better in each of the disciplines. Her started titled was a bronze so I guess it means that we are improving as a team….yeah us!!!
We were up bright and early this morning to drive to Red Deer to participate in Nosey Pawtner’s Sporting Detection Dog Association trial. We had a slow start but a great finish with lots of swag.
Spirit got a second place on the interior search component, 2nd place overall and she got her Advanced title today. So proud of my big girl. So now we have to move from the amateur steam and start competing in the working/professional scenting dog stream.
Throughout the photo shoot she had her eye on the cookie and couldn’t wait for permission to gobble it down.
We drove to Calgary today to participate in a drafting/carting clinic put on by the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Canada and the Newfoundland Dog Fanciers of Alberta. We were joined by Coreen & Steve Johnson of Tailspin Bernese (Spirit’s breeders) with their Newfie Ryder and two other Tailspin Berners, brother and sister Gunnar and Felice.
Felice, Gunnar, Ryder and Spirit (L-R)
We started out a little rocky. Spirit has been kicksledding for the last two months so she thought that she was supposed to take off like a rocket and pull the cart. It had to stand in front of her to stop her from racing off (and I have the bruises to prove it). Eventually she caught on and began to walk nicely at my side and even started making some decent left and right turns. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us before we could even consider taking the draft dog test.
Next week we are going to take a carting clinic and we needed a cart for the class. We are very lucky that Spirit’s breeders Coreen and Steve Johnson from Tailspin Bernese Mountain Dogs generously offered to lend us one of theirs. We went to their acreage on Sunday to fit Spirit with her harness and cart.
Since we have been doing kick sledding I was worried that Spirit would want to take off running with the cart rather than walking in a nice heel beside me. She was a little spooked by the metal supports running along side her body but I think she did ok.
Of course it was freezing cold and windy for us two legged folks but the dogs didn’t mind. Here is a quick video of her first reaction to being attached to the cart and then her first experience pulling.
Berners were bred to pull milk carts in the Swiss Alps. I thought we should start with something a little easier like pulling a kicksled. We joined a local Meetup group, rented a sled and attended our first outing at the end of January. It went really well. It took Spirit a while to figure out the game but she did a really good job pulling the sled and trying to follow the teams ahead of us. We completed a 4km loop and had a wonderful time.
This past weekend we went out with the group again. I think Spirit was possessed by the “pulling gods”. Oh my goodness she went fast….and full out on the down hill part. We only lasted about 10 minutes and ended up with 2 spectacular crashes and a bent ski on my brand new kicksled. I had my GoPro on my helmet (thank goodness I bought a helmet) so my wipeouts are on record. You can see that the camera was a little askew after the first crash and then it ended up buried in the snow after the second one.
We went out again today to a local provincial park. It was mostly flat with a few gentle hills. It was a lot slower today since the terrain was relatively flat and there were no teams ahead of us to chase. I hope to go out with the Meetup group again this weekend.
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