Italy 2014

In Sweden

We’re back in Sweden! It’s cold. We started by visiting Tyra and her puppies! They look very nice and now all I have to do is find a name and wait. Puppies are four weeks today and will be ready to leave in another four weeks. All puppies in Sweden have to be at least eight weeks before leaving their mother and siblings. For me, that is a good age. Having had a few border collie litters of my own, I think that eight weeks is a good age for them to go to their new homes. At that age, they start to act more as individuals and need individual attention and to expand their horizons. What are the rules/laws in your country? And at what age do you want to take your new puppy home?


We left the puppies and went to a forest on the way to my parents. Epic and Squid were very happy to stretch their legs and get out of the car. Sweden might be cold, but a great walk with the dogs in the forest is never far away…


We arrived at my parents house in the afternoon, and took a walk to the sea. Sweden also has beaches worth exploring! After a night here, we’re ready to head home. It’s been over five weeks since I left Fjugesta. I just wish that Thomas was home, but I won’t be seeing much of him for the next few weeks. He travels to Norway a lot, both teaching and working on his masters thesis.


On our way back (with some delays)

I’m sorry for not blogging during the past two weeks. I’ve had a great time in Italy. First I spent a few days outside Rome training my own dogs, walking on the beach and enjoying the sun. Then I taught three days of obedience at the same location. Lots of great dogs and handlers, and good discussions. I also had time to train my own dogs in the afternoon. Squid was quite affected by being in heat (she stopped for two weeks, then came into the peak of her heat a month after the first drop of blood) for a few days. She was tired and had a pained look in her eyes. I was a bit worried, but I gave her time to rest and after a few days she was back to normal. After the seminar, I spent a few days at another agility school outside of Rome. I trained my dogs (Squid was happy to do some obedience, and Epic got to do some jump grids and contacts. He’s looking good!).

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On Wednesday, I made my way back north to Malosco where we started our Italian adventure exactly one month before. Still snow there, but nice and sunny weather. We went for walks in the forest and trained agility indoors. On the weekend, I taught an agility foundations seminar for a great group of people. A few adult dogs, but mostly puppies. So much fun, and I think we covered a lot even though translating to both Italian and German took some time.


I started to drive home yesterday. Driving went well, until i realized something was wrong with the breaks. Tried to drive without breaking, and made it to Rostock where I finally found a hotel to check into just before midnight. Now, I’m waiting for my car to be repaired. Breaks on all four wheels are ruined and needs to be changed. Luckily, they had all the parts here so I hope to be on my way in a few hours. I set up an office at the repair shop. WiFi, coffee, dogs at my feet. Almost like being at home 😀 I hope to be in Sweden by evening, and back home on Thursday. I’m so grateful for friends helping me out with finding a good repair shop, offering me places to stay for the night and especially for having the best possible help with dogs and sheep at home so that I don’t have to worry about that (Thomas is in Norway).

Working with distractions

I drove to Rome yesterday, and spent today at the Italian WAO tryouts (with almost two hour break for cross-country skiing on my iPad, of course – new GOLD for Sweden!). Fun to see agility, and some inspiring courses. I spent some time playing with my own dogs too. Epic worked mostly on focus. He likes to watch small dogs run, and will quickly take his eyes off me if I want to work with food and not just high energy things and tugging. So the plan was to tug with him, and gradually introduce more and more food and more and more work between tugging. I was pleased with the result, and I think he did a great job! Here’s a really boring video of some of the things we did today (boring because it’s quite long, and because the camera is static):

Squid got to come out at the end of the day (she’s in heat, so I didn’t want to distract someone competing). She got to do obedience with some really tough distractions. There were dogs running all around her, but she did great! Here’s a long and boring video of her:

Naugthy Squid and Sightseeing in Bari

After our lovely day at the beaches that I wrote about on Sunday, I left Squid in the camper for a while, while I want into the house to get some work done (temporary problem with the WiFi in the camper). After work, dinner and some more work, I went back to the camper to take the dogs out and go to sleep. But Squid obviously thought that her day had been too boring and that she was hungry. She had torn apart and eaten from a big bag of coconut flour that was on the counter. She had spread the flour all over the floor, along with the contents of my gym bag. She had also eaten a hole in my favorite sweater, and ripped my favorite pants apart (because of small particles of food left in pockets).

She also seems to have found a jar of pills for dogs that have problematic stomachs, and eaten most of the pills. Some kind of self-medication. It didn’t seem to help much, because she wanted out a couple of times during the first night, and yesterday she seemed to be in some pain. She looks better now! It was of course my fault for forgetting about the flour on the counter. I was in a hurry that morning, and forgot to put it away. It does surprise me that she ate it though, but Epic was also interested in it, so it obviously tastes good. And the clothes – I should have put them in the suitcase, but I thought they were safe on the bed above the front seet. They were not…


Epic looking at the mess

Yesterday was a day of rest for the dogs. I got I guided tour of Bari by Italian friends. Afterwards, I took the dogs on some sightseeing around town. They are starting to act very civilized in the city. 😀 I then went to a shopping centre to buy new pants. But I did forget to try them on in other positions than standing up. This wasn’t a very good idea. I went to the gym for some training in my new pants, and in the first squat my new pants said “rrrippp” and got a hole in them. Of course, I wasn’t alone there, as the Italian men at the gym tried to comment my training (in a languate I don’t understand) all the time…


Walking along the water in Bari

Today has also been a relaxed day. A work out for Epic, and his first weave pole repetitions in almost six months. Rest for Squid because of her stomach. We watched the cross-country sprint from the Olympics. Were dissapointed when Cologna fell twice, but happy about two Swedish medals. Then we went to the forest for a walk again. And we didn’t meet anybody. Love it!


Tomorrow, I’ll teach an obedience seminar here. Very interesting, as obedience isn’t a big sport here in the south. I just hope that the language won’t be too much of a problem. Having a translator makes it harder to teach. It’s a bit like the game where you whisper a sentence to a person, who in turn whispers what he hears to a third person. It can get confusing. In the north of Italy, I have been working with a long time student as my translator. This makes it easier, since I know that she understands most of the concepts well. But we’ve still had some problems. I’m glad that she’ll come to Rome to translate next weekend. I guess I should work on my Italian some more, so that I at least can understand when things go wrong in translation…

I hope you enjoy our reports from Italy. I do miss your comments a bit, it feels like talking to no-one at times.

Tunnel Cup Visit and Beaches

This morning, we drove to Monopoli (south of Bari, on the coast) to look at a tunnel cup competition. A good opportunity to give my dogs some training in a very distracting environment. When I got there, I took the dogs for a walk around the competition (which was held on a soccer field in the middle of the city) and had a short session of obedience with Squid. Then I got back in the car to watch the men’s skiathlon at the Olympics. I love cross country skiing – on TV 😀 It was very exciting, and couldn’t have ended better. My favorite – Dario Cologna – is back from injury and won the gold, while Sweden’s Marcus Hellner won silver!


After that, I spend a couple of hours around the competition and trained both dogs. Squid worked on heeling, stand/sit/down from heel, long sits and distance control with a lot of distractions. She seems to like to get tasks to focus on when there are a lot of other dogs around. I think she likes not having to deal with dogs that she doesn’t know, and focusing on her work is a good way for her to do that. She did very well, and I was very happy that I could get her to heel very calmly next to a tunnel cup! Epic did well too. We focused on some engaging games (tug, circle work, sits and nose touches) and some relaxing. He also got a little work out for his hind legs in a set of stairs close to the ring. I had a lot of fun with both dogs, and it seems like my efforts to get them out in the world more quickly pays off!


When we were done with training, I drove south to find a beach to walk the dogs on. I found the most perfect beach, and there was no one in sight, so the dogs could run free and have fun for a long time. They loved it, and so did I!


I then took the car up the hills behind Fasano, and had a great view of the ocean and saw a lot of traditional houses and beautiful views. I didn’t find anywhere to walk the dogs, so we went back to the coast. I had a really nice lunch at a restaurant, and then took a nice walk by the sea as the sun set. We had a great day!


Foresta di Mercadante

I’m so glad that I took the dogs in the car and went to the forest for a walk yesterday. It surpassed all my expectations! Foresta di Mercadante is a forest planted on a hill, to prevent flooding in Bari. It’s also a beautiful nature reserve where a lot of energy has been put into tracks and signs. Even better – it felt like we were alone in the Forest. We walked for more than an hour, and the only ones we met were a bicyclist and a confused poiter with no owner in sight.

I wanted to give the dogs some active rest. It’s easy to train too much when you have the agility field right around the corner, but my dogs are not in shape to jump, run fast and dig in hard every day. I think soft trotting in the forest is an exellent active recovery for all dogs. And it was beautiful!


And working on balance 🙂

Squid got to do obedience in the afternoon. We’re working on a constant head position in heeling, and play around with games for scent discimination. A lot of good training for her, and it got even better when she found chickens both on the other side of the fence, and in our training field. That was a tough distraction for her!


The puppies by Tyra and Epic, that I have been waiting for for so long, were born two nights ago. I was really set on a female puppy this time, but all seven puppies were male. They are beautiful, and I don’t think I can say no to one of them even though he’s a son and not a daughter…

Tyra med valpar

Sun in the south

On Monday, we headed south after a weekend with obedience in Onigo (c on the map). I split the trip in two and drove to a B&B outside Ancona (D), where we spent the night to Tuesday. I came there at dusk, and it was very foggy, so I didn’t get to see much of the very beautiful surroundings. I wend to the village of Offagna for dinner, and I think it’s a beautiful village with a medieval fortress at the top of a hill. I couldn’t see much due to the fog, but I got a good view from a distance when we left the B&B in the morning, and the air was clear.

Onigo, Ancona, Bari

Before we headed south again, I drove to the ocean and took the dogs for a morning walk on the beach. It was amazingly nice for both the dogs and me.

Morning on the beach

The drive to Bari (E) went well and the view over the ocean and the rolling hills in the sun was very nice! Last part of the drive was very straight and flat with almost no traffic, so driving was easy and fast. We were met by Pasquale as soon as we exited the highway, and he led the way to their place. Nice service! We live in a camper next to the house. Here’s also a boarding kennel and three training areas. There’s one full size agility field, one smaller agility field, and a small area for pet classes. All fenced. They have classes here in the evenings, so there’s a lot of people and dogs coming and going, and the dogs in the kennels bark a lot. There’s not a lot of space. This is perfect for us! We’re so used to training on our own with no distractions. My dogs are not used to this kind of environment, and I think they will be so much more cool with things after this experience. They already seem much less bothered by dogs fence fighting and barking at them.

Olive trees

Last night, I took the dogs out and trained them next to the agility field while there was a class going on. I was surprised how well they both worked in a brand new environment, with a lot of barking dogs and new people. Today, we’ve had two sessions on the agility field. My dogs haven’t done agility in many months because of rehab, so we’re taking it easy. All three of us are very happy to be running a bit of agility again! I was happy to train in the sun, and even had to take my sweater of. The dogs were clearly not used to 15+ and sun, and wanted to go in the shade when they had a break.

Seeking shade

The biggest challenge is to find somewhere to walk the dogs. I don’t think anyone here walks their dog outside of the property. I did find a nice walk yesterday (once we passed the neighbor’s barking dogs behind the fence), but it felt a bit like trespassing on private ground (even though we kept to the road). I also heard that there might be groups of stray dogs there, and I don’t feel like meeting them with my dogs. Well. I have to find a way to walk the dogs and to warm them up before exercise.

Another challenge is that Squid came into heat already on the ferry a week ago. So far I don’t have any problems with it, even though I can’t leave her and Epic alone at any time. It will get worse during this week though, and I don’t have much room in the camper to keep them separated. If I hadn’t checked and seen blood, I wouldn’t have known that she was in heat. I haven’t seen a single drop of blood on the floor after I checked her, and Epic is not very interested in her.

In Italy

Sorry that I haven’t written more about our Italian adventure. Driving the 2000 kilometers here went very well (I loved the German Autobahn!), but it was intense and tiring. I also had a cold, and when I finally got here, I couldn’t do anything but stay in bed and sleep. I had a fever, aching body and a very runny nose. A day in bed did good, and today I’ve been feeling much better. Which was good, since I had my first day of seminars today. A very good day, and I’m so happy to have my dogs with me so that I can show things!


A map of our trip so far.

Planning for Italy

After a mild and nice December, snow came at last two weeks ago. Although snow makes it lighter outdoors and cleaner indoors, I prefer to be able to train my dogs outdoors, and to be able to easily walk in the woods with them. We don’t have a good indoor arena close to out home. We have the riding facility just 5 minutes away, but it’s cold and the footing is very heavy and soft. To get to a nice, clean heated arena with decent footing, we need to travel for more than an hour. It’s often worth it, but can’t be done very often. This winter we’ve been there a few times to shoot video for our online classes. We do get time for some more training as well, here is for example some obedience sequences with Squid from Monday:

It’s so much fun to finally be able to do some serious training with Squid again. She’s not quite ready for much agility yet (have started to work on some jump grids), but I do let her run, stop and play in obedience now. I’ve finally found a physiotherapist that I trust and who really makes a difference in my dogs. Epic looks really, really good now after four sessions with her during the past five months. Squid has had two sessions this winter and we’re very hopeful about her full recovery. She does look awkward when jumping right now, but Epic did too after his second session and I was really worried. He does look very good now though, so I just need to have patience. At least I have a lot of obedience to train with Squid! And agility skills that doesn’t require a lot of jumping.

It’s only six days before I leave for Italy with my two dogs, where I’ll spend a month teaching, training and exploring. I’m excited, but very nervous. A long drive, a foreign country and a long time away from home. How will I be able to fit my whole life into my car? How will my dogs cope with going from farm dogs to experiencing new things every day (It’ll probably be very, very good for them)? What will we eat? What should I pack? Can I manage without knowing the language? What will I do when Squid comes into heat? She hasn’t been in heat since having puppies, and it should be about now. That can get interesting with an intact male with us. I think he’ll do okay, but I have no idea about how Italian dogs handle it. It’ll be an adventure for sure.

Before driving to Italy, I have two days of teaching in Poland. I leave tomorrow morning and come back on Sunday night, so I don’t have many hours left in my house. I’ve never been to Poland, so it’ll be a fun experience.