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Friday, 30 December 2011

Good News!!

Well one things for sure.  You don't have to worry about getting too many emails saying I've updated my blog! 

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and will have a wonderful New Year!

The good news is, Indy is definitely pregnant!!  Yay!  We won't know how many pups until the middle of January but she's looking like she'll have at least 6.  YAY!  It's been so long since we have had puppies around here.  I'm just as excited as a kid waiting for Christmas!  Yippee!!  Yahoo!!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Okay, so I can't count!

So it appears that I'm okay with animals but not with numbers.  The actual due date for Indy is January 22, 2012.  Here's a few pictures of Indy/Merlin pups from a previous litter.

Monday, 21 November 2011

OH YAY! Finally some news!

Hello Everyone!

I'm very happy to say that there is finally something worth writing about!  (I'm not one of those who let's people know I went shopping at whatchamacallit and bought a thingamajig!)  Merlin & Indy have been bred and we are expecting puppies on January the 8th!!  YAY!! 

This has been a long time coming.  Merlin and Isis were bred in the early fall.  It looked like Isis was going to give us a litter of puppies.  Unfortunately, she had false pregnancy.  There were many disappointed people!  It is an honour to be able to say that all the people who had put a deposit on that litter, were willing to wait for a future litter.  To me that is the ultimate compliment.  I appreciate the trust in me and the confidence in my dogs. I do not take that compliment lightly.  I will do everything I can to provide you with a K9 partner for life.

Having said that, one of the families have opted to wait until next fall for their new puppy.  That will give one lucky person an opportunity to place a deposit and get onto the waiting list.  I will take only a total of six deposits but I will continue to take names up to a maximum of ten people.  The last four will receive a pup in order of the date I received their questionnaire.  So if you've been thinking about getting an "Angel".  Nows the time to speak up! 

I must tell you however, that I am not at home.  I've had to go to a family emergency in the US and I won't be home until it is time to leave for holidays that has been booked for 2 years!  Please be patient if you don't hear from me right away.  But also don't be afraid to send me multiple emails to get my attention when I get back.  Email is usually the best way to reach me.  I spend a lot of time at home but most of that time I'm outside with the dogs. 

And don't you worry about the dogs.  My assistant trainer and her spouse will be staying on the farm to take care of all the animals.  They will be well cared for.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful fall.  I'm very pleased that the snow has, for the most part, stayed away and allowed us to prepare for the winter.  There's always too much to do when you have animals! 

Stay safe, stay warm, and I'll talk to you soon.

Mary Ann

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

"Death Wobble"

So apparently my Jeep has the "Death Wobble".  Who knew?!  I'm driving down the road at 90km/hr and all of a sudden the steering wheel is vibrating so badly I thought I'd lost a wheel!  Scared my half to death!  I pulled over and no, all the tires and wheels are still there.  I tried to shake each tire but they seemed to be on tight.  I was in the middle of nowhere with no cell reception so I got back in and very slowly proceeded down the road.  Everything seemed fine.  A little faster... a little faster... and nothing happened.  I attributed it to some holes in the road that sent me bouncing around.  A few days later, BAM, it did it again.  This time I took it right to the dealer.  I have the "Death Wobble".  Check it out on You Tube if you don't know what it is.  The unfortunate part is nobody knows what causes it.  Sometimes its the track bar, sometimes it's the shocks, sometimes its the tires.  The bad news is, any Jeep can get it and any Dodge truck.  So BEWARE owners of Jeeps and Dodges!  In my case, it is caused by the tires. But that was found out after they changed the shock on the steering column, put new shocks on the front end and a wheel alignment!  $$$$!

After 5 days in the shop, they finally got me a loaner car but not before I had to cancel all my dog related activities.  They don't like dog hair in the loaner!  No dogs to classes, no tracking, no swimming at the river!  I didn't realize how convenient my Jeep was.  Alas, it won't be back to normal until I can get new tires put on it.  More $$$!  This is getting very expensive!

On another note, my Puppy Kindergarten course is now over and I have 2 weeks left of my Beginners course.  Almost all the puppies signed up for the next Beginners which starts November 1st.  How time flies!  Seems like I just started those courses 2 weeks ago!  I'm still looking for a suitable indoor area to hold my classes in.  If anybody know of one in the Bowden, Sundre, Olds area please let me know.

Tata for now!   

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Next Litter

Since Isis has fooled us and she will not be having any puppies this year, the next litter will come from Indy.  Indy is our Alpha female here at Guardian Angel Shepherds.  She is one of the sweetest dogs I've ever owned.  Although she's Alpha female, she rules with patience.  I've seen time after time, any of the dogs steal her toy, her bed, and she allows it.  Only when there is something of extremely high value (like a raw bone) will she growl or threaten with a snarl.  And once that happens, everyone just backs away.  I truly cannot remember a time when she actually went after anybody.  For some reason, once she's displayed her intent, nobody challenges her.  Even the boys who outweigh her by 30+ pounds won't try and take that bone.  She is a perfect Alpha.

I've taken Indy to live with a male she does not know for a little while.  I'm hoping this will entice her to come into heat soon.  I have no way of knowing exactly when she will come in.  Dogs only come into heat once every six months.  And just like people, there is some fluctuation.  She was in heat last October, so theoretically she should be coming into heat again this month.  If everything goes according to plan.  Believe me, you'll be the first to know when it happens!

I'd like to thank the upcoming puppy owners for rolling over their deposits to the next litter.  That means a lot to me that you put that much trust in myself and my dogs.  I am honoured. 

Mary Ann


Merlin  (Indy's husband to be)

Monday, 3 October 2011

Problems with telephone messages

I apologize to anyone who has left a telephone message in the past week.  Telus is having problems with their answering software.  If you have left a message that I haven't returned, please try my email address instead.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Friday, 30 September 2011

I'm sorry to say

I'm very sorry to have to tell you that Isis is having a false pregnancy. We are all extremely disappointed by the news. Anyone with a deposit in needs to contact me regarding your options.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, 29 September 2011


I still don't know what's happening with Isis in regards to having puppies. She continues to get ready to nurse but there is no sign of any bulge in her tummy. Our vet appointment is tomorrow afternoon. You'll know when I know!

Sent from my iPhone


I still don't know what's happening with Isis in regards to having puppies. She continues to get ready to nurse but there is no bulge in her tummy. My appt. at the vet is tomorrow afternoon. You'll know when I know.

Sent from my iPad

Monday, 26 September 2011


I'm very sorry to have to tell everyone that Isis may not be pregnant.  She is either having a very small litter, (1-2) or she is having a false pregnancy.  She is obviously getting ready to nurse as she has some mammary development but I don't see the tell-tale sign of her getting fat.  She always waits until near the end to get big but this is just too late into the pregnancy to have nothing showing.  I will have her ultrasounded or x-rayed this week to know for sure. 

I will let you know as soon as I know. 

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The Other End of the Leash

I was tracking with Merlin last week and decided to try recording it.  My tracking coach records hers quite frequently so I thought I'd do the same. (Thanks Donna!)   Maybe I'll learn something.

And just so you know, we are both beginners.  I'm up close so that I can help him if he gets off track.  It also gives him confidence to keep going. 

So here it is. Tracking from my perspective. 

As you can see, he didn't need me!  He followed the track without any problems.  We are working on 40-50 metre tracks at this point.  I'm very happy with how he is proceeding.  His tracks are getting longer and twice, I've introduced him to corners.  The first time he did awesome.  The second he was totally perplexed and I had to show him where to start.  But that's all normal I guess.   I was reading a book about tracking the other day and it said it would take 12 months before a dog was ready to compete to attain his Tracking Dog title.  I guess I have a minimum of 8 months to go! 

But this time there were no corners and he did very well.  He kept his nose to the ground at all times and casted back and forth from footstep to footstep.  AND he found the article at the end!  I couldn't ask for more!

I hope you enjoyed our little tracking session as much as I did!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

K9-11 Heroes

During the chaos of the 9/11 attacks, where almost 3,000 people died, nearly 100 loyal search and rescue dogs and their brave owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors.

Now, ten years on, just 12 of these heroic canines survive, and they have been commemorated in a touching series of portraits entitled 'Retrieved'.

The dogs worked tirelessly to search for anyone trapped alive in the rubble, along with countless emergency service workers and members of the public.

Traveling across nine states in the U.S. from Texas to Maryland, Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from 9/11.

Their stories have now been compiled in a book, called Retrieved, which is published on Friday, the tenth anniversary of the attacks.

Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs.

The unfortunate thing for me is there isn't a picture of "Timber".    Timber was owned by an Irish soldier temporarily stationed in Canada for training.  Both Timber and Patrick were on the scene in New York within 24 hours.  Rest well my friend.  You deserve it. .

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Proud Mothers

I just wanted to share a really nice story I heard from one of my puppy owners.  This family owns two of my dogs; one black & tan, the other all black.  I may not have all the details exactly right but I know I'll have the jist of the story correct!

The couple that own the dogs like to go camping fairly frequently.  They were camping with some friends/family who had children.  One of the older children decided to go to the river and take his younger sibling as well.  The youngster I believe was approximately 2 years old.  As what can sometimes happen with children, the older child was distracted by something and left the youngster by himself at the bank of the river. 

Kokoda (the B&T female) was playing fetch with a stick, not too far down the river.  When the dog realized the child had been left alone and close to the river, she dropped the stick and ran to the child.  She stood with the child until an adult came to take charge of the little one.  As soon as the adult was there, she ran back down the river, grabbed the stick, and continued to play! 

How's that for a smart dog!!  Both Olivia and I are the proud Mothers!!  Their picture is below.

Kokoda, Olivia, Onyx

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Vancouver, Mystique & Life In General

This past weekend involved a whirlwind trip to Vancouver.  I delivered Mystique to her new family, took 1 day to tour around Granville Island Market and then rushed back home.  Although it was very rushed, it was good to get away from routine. 

Mystique travelled very well.  Her biggest problem was she wouldn't go pee!  We stopped every two hours enroute but nothing.  The days were hot and she was drinking a lot so I knew it was going to have to come out sometime!  I realized that she probably had seldom, if ever, peed on leash.  We would go for walks but never more than a few hours.  She always waited to go until we got home I guess.  Up until now, I hadn't even thought about it.  She only went once/day!  She had lots of opportunity but I guess she just wasn't comfortable with the whole "being-on-leash" idea. 

She behaved herself like an Angel in the hotel room.  Not a sound through the night, (and no accidents!).  The following day was the same as far as relieving herself.  Just once!  We were there to give her praise and recognition but it obviously didn't make an impression on her. 

We arrived in Vancouver just at Friday afternoon rush hour.  Instead of fretting, we decided that we would put some good music on the stereo & just enjoy the sun.  We travelled most of each day with the roof off of the Jeep.  I LOVE my Jeep!

We eventually arrived at our destination where Mystique's new family were waiting anxiously.  A family of 5 had been counting down the days until she arrived.  They own a beautiful, monarchal, older German Shepherd  by name of "Jack".  He will be a very good influence for Mystique.  I decided they should meet on neutral ground so we met at a park a few blocks from their home.  The introduction couldn't have gone any better.  Before long we were all walking side by side towards home. 

Mystique was a little shy around the new people but I knew she would come around quickly.  She was the perfect dog for them.  You could tell that Jack, even though he was in his senior years, would have been a handful.  A true working line German Shepherd that knew he was King.  This time, they wanted a more easy going individual that loved kids, was gentle but would protect when necessary.  That is Mystique in a nutshell.  All she ever wants to do is please.  When she's excited, she runs around looking for something to bring you.  She's just a wonderful girl.  As you can probably tell, I do miss her. As does her yard mate Cruise.  They would chase each other around and around for hours at a time.  Mystique now has more than enough kids to keep her busy!  I'm afraid Cruise doesn't think I make a good Mystique double!

After all the initial introductions, we sat down to a WONDERFUL dinner.  Everyone made us feel so welcome.  Thank you Ann!  We swapped dog stories and even one or two horse stories.  But time was marching on and we had to get to where we were staying for the night.  I was pretty much a wreck when it came time to leave.  I didn't want to say "good-bye" and upset the dog so I suggested Ann take her for a walk.  I watched them walk down the street, knowing I'd found each of them a good partner.  We waited until they were out of site, then left. 

"I'm such a cry baby!" I said.  My husband said "You're not a cry baby.  You have a soft heart."  I love my dogs with all my heart.  When you've lived with a dog for 18 months, she becomes part of the family.  However, I knew that Ann & her family could give her a wonderful home.  She even gets to go to work every day!  Then come home to play with three kids!  Does life get any better than that?!

So here she is, just a few days after arriving, looking like she's been there her whole life.  Not a fairy tale ending... a fairy tale beginning...

Monday, 22 August 2011

My Dogs & Kids

I'm often asked how my dogs are with kids.  In a nutshell, they're great!  They are also great with little furry animals, reptiles and birds.  However, they must be taught at an early age that these kids and critters are there to protect, not to be used as play toys.  My dogs are bred with high prey drives.  That means they have been bred, generation after generation, to chase things.  We've been breeding that into European German Shepherds since  Captain Max von Stephanitz registered the first German Shepherd in 1899.  "Shepherds"... "German Shepherds".  Literally. 

It is very simple to teach a young GSD that children and small animals are part of the family, or pack.  Consistent rules, along with love and affection is all that's needed.  With an older German Shepherd, it is a little more complicated but certainly doable. 

I've posted a short video of Mystique to show how wonderful Guardian Angel Shepherds are.  Mystique is approximately 18 months old.  She had the unfortunate circumstance of being born shortly after I got sick.  I was unable to leave the couch, let alone socialize her as I normally would.  She has seen my Grandchildren occasionally, from a distance, but never up close and personal.  Until a few days ago.  Here is how she reacted to the strange noises and movements a 3 year old can make.

I'm so proud of her.  She followed him everywhere.  When he ran, she followed, but did not chase.  When he screamed in delight, she looked at him quizzically.  When he hugged her, she stood like a trooper.  I'm proud of her, and all my dogs.

Friday, 19 August 2011

My "Other" Life

First time driving! (No woman driver jokes pls!)

This was at a friends place last weekend.  As some of you know, my "other" life is filled with horses.  I ride, train, and give Natural Horsemanship lessons.  I've been doing Natural Horsemanship long before it was the "cool" thing to do.  I'm proud to say that Pat Parelli is a friend of mine.  My late husband's artwork graced many of Pat's early magazines.  Since 1992, my relationship with horses has been nothing short of miraculous.  I'm finally feeling well enough to get back to at least doing groundwork.  I'm not sure if I'll ever have enough balance back to ride again so I was thinking... driving!  I'm always up to learn something new!

As for the dogs, we're waiting (unpatiently) to confirm Isis' pregnancy.  She has a habit of showing very late in her gestation so all we can do is keep our fingers crossed.  Merlin is doing awesome at tracking.  He's graduated from a straight line, very short track (25 metres) to a little longer (45 metres) with a gentle curve.  It's a long process, that's for sure.  To obtain the first tracking title, you need to track at least 450 metres, have up to 5-90 degree turns and the track can age up to an hour before you put your dog on it.  So when I look at that, it will probably take a year before we are ready to try for a title. 

Cruise is on "leave" at the moment.  She is in heat.  She doesn't like it much when I load up the Jeep and she'gets left behind.  She does have her playmate Mystique with her though, so she's not lonely.

Cruise waiting her turn to track.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Learning this thing they call "tracking"

I took Cruise and Merlin tracking again yesterday.  Merlin's tracks continue to get better on a weekly basis.  Cruise, however, is having a harder time of it.  I'm having a hard time getting her motivated.  She is unlike any Guardian Angel Shepherd I've had before.  Her laid back "come what may" attitude towards life makes her extremely easy to handle and to live with in general.  But, that's also what is giving me a hard time in trying to get her excited about tracking.  Merlin will eat just about anything you give him.  I've used hot dogs, rollover, cheese, meat, chicken jerky, etc.  All were gobbled up during Merlin's track.  Well Cruise, she's a different dog altogether.  She wanders around the track, sometimes going the right way, sometimes going the opposite.  She just can't figure out what the excitement is!  She's a wonderful dog, don't get me wrong!  I love her to pieces!  I'll just have to keep trying new ways to get her motivated!  So what kind of treats do you use for your dog?  Have any good ideas?  My friend that I track with said his dog loved dried liver.  He said "It's like crack for dogs!"  Unfortunately not my dog 8-(  So?  Any good treat ideas out there?

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Puppies Are Coming!

It is with great excitement that I say "PUPPIES ARE COMING!"

Finally Isis and Merlin have been bred!  Yippee!  This has been the strangest year ever as far as breeding goes.  It must be due to the colder weather but the girls aren't coming into heat like they should.  Indy must have had a silent heat sometime in the spring because we've seen absolutely no sign of her coming in at all this year.  Ebony came into heat but it was for only a few days and it generally lasts for 3 weeks.  It's just been a super strange year as far as breeding is concerned. 

Even Isis' heat wasn't exactly normal.  She started standing to be bred much earlier than usual.  Generally they stand for 3-6 days but she stood for 8 days.  Poor Merlin is exhausted! 

I've been tracking a few times since we last chatted but Merlin had other duties at home so he missed out.  Although he, wouldn't say he missed out! 




Merlin on the run!

Puppies are due October 2nd!!  Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Hello Everyone!  I'm new to blogging and just tried to put up a short video of the dogs playing in the water.  After watching things download for a 1/2 hour, it came up as an error.  So instead, here's a link to see the same video on youtube.  I'll get better at this as I go (I hope).  Enjoy!

Playing With The Boys!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Mystique & Tracking

Mystique is my 18 month old female I had intended to keep for my breeding program.  She is very sweet, just like her mother, Indy.  Unfortunately, she contracted Parvo-virus when she was 6 months old.  She was in the care of the vet for 5 days.  Luckily she was old enough to fight off the Parvo and survived.  However, for some unexplained reason, her ears went from standing up, to drooping.  She does have the capability of holding them erect but for the most part she allows them to droop.  For this reason, I've had to remove her from my breeding program.  Although this would not be a problem that is hereditary, no one would buy a GSD pup from a mother with droopy ears.  I know I wouldn't! 

So, on Wednesday, she was spayed.  Here she is shortly after she came home from the vet.  The x-pen is to keep her quiet and to prevent the other dogs from trying to play with her.  She's healing up nicely now.  I was very surprised to see how small the incision was.  I haven't spayed a dog in many, many years so I was expecting a 6-8 inch incision.  Her incision was 2-2.5 inches long!  Awesome! 

The other good news about Mystique is she has been sold to a very nice family in Vancouver.  I will be delivering her personally at the end of August.  It is always very difficult for me to find new homes for dogs that have been here longer than 8 weeks.  For that matter I usually cry when each puppy leaves!  However, I screen my owners very well and I know that the dog will have as good, or even a better life than they would here.  Where she is going, she will be an only dog and she will get the families undivided attention.  I know she will thrive in that situation.

I've been tracking a few more times these past couple of weeks.  Both Merlin and Cruise have been bumped back to less difficult tracks.  They would track just fine but not with enthusiasm.  I needed to go back and make it easier and more fun.  (I'm learning too!)  I've put a ball or tug at the end of the track for extra motivation to get to the end.  Hopefully I don't create a monster who pulls so hard that they miss some of the fine details they need for passing a tracking title.  It's one of those things that if it works as intended, it will be great.  But it also has the possibility of creating problems as well.  Keep your fingers crossed for the former!

 Off to exercise dogs!  Later!

Mystique 15 months old

Mystique 1 year old

Friday, 15 July 2011


I went to my first tracking seminar the weekend of May 15th.  There was gale force winds both days which made it hard for the dogs to track.  I have never tracked my dogs before so everything was absolutely brand new to me. 

There are two different ways a dog can track.  One is footstep tracking, the other is tracking through drive.  Tracking through drive is the way they teach Search & Rescue and police dogs to track.  Those dogs are taught to look for the end of the track (the person) and go the shortest distance getting there.  Footstep tracking was developed so that we can compare how well one dog does compared to another.  The dog is expected to follow the exact path of the person they are tracking.  If the dog goes "X" number of feet off the track, the dog is disqualified.  Along the path, the dog will come across articles.  These could be keys, a glove, a pop can.  These are articles left behind by the person who laid down the track.  The dog is to "down" at an article to indicate he has found something.  However, he is not allowed to touch that article.  If this was a real life situation, a police dog may find a gun dropped by the suspect.  Obviously if the dog was to touch it, he could ruin evidence.  So, the dog is to indicate it, but not touch it.  I will be learning footstep tracking.

There are 4 Tracking titles awarded by the CKC: TD or Tracking Dog, and the more difficult, advanced tests: TDX or Tracking Dog Excellent, UTD or Urban Tracking Dog and UTDX or Urban Tracking Dog Excellent. A TD title is a prerequisite for entering TDX and UTD tests; a UTD is a prerequisite for entering a UTDX test. A dog which has earned all 4 CKC tracking titles (TD, TDX, UTD, UTDX) will be awarded the title of Tracking Champion (TCh).  I will be concentrating on the first (obviously) and that is a TD, or Tracking Dog title.

At the TD level, the dog is required to follow a stranger's track, which must be at least a half-hour old (but no more than 2 hours old). This track is about 450 meters long, has 2 to 4 turns, and has a leather article at the end - usually a glove. The start of the track is indicated by a pole, and there is a second pole that indicates the direction of the first "leg" of the track. The dog must follow the track and indicate that he has found the article in order to pass the test.

All that seems like a long way into the future at this point.  I am taking two dogs tracking.  Cruise, my 9 month old sable female and Merlin, my 3 year old Czech import stud dog.  Cruise was the youngest dog at the seminar and I was very proud of her.  Being a pup still, she sometimes lost focus but overall she did very well.  She is such a wonderful, easy going dog and I don't think there was a single person attending the clinic that didn't say "How about I take Cruise home with me!"  She is so well behaved under any circumstance;  and for a pup that's really saying something!

Cruise (8 months old) hot on the trail!
So begins my saga.  I'm looking forward to learning lots more about scents and tracking.  For instance, did you know that your scent can linger in something as small as a rock depression!  Or that scent rolls down hill!  Who knew!  Lots to learn, and lots of fun to be had!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Welcome to my BLOG!  Who would have ever thought I'd need a blog!  Certainly not me.  Seems that there is a lot of you out there who stay current with the goings on at Guardian Angel Shepherds by reading my NEWS page.  I haven't been very good about keeping it current these last few months and I being reminded that there's people out there, waiting and waiting for more news.  Well, I think I've solved the problem by creating this blog.  If you subscribe, you will be notified every time I add something new.  You will no longer have to check the site, time after time, just to find out I haven't updated it yet.  Good idea eh?  I'm going to start with the complete story of Diesel.  Diesel is my 110 pound self-bred German Shepherd stud dog.

As some of you know, I've had a few extensive surgeries over the past year. My illness, on several occasions was life threatening. It has been a long and arduous road to get back to where I am now and there is still many months of physio etc. to come yet. It was a very difficult time both for myself and my family. One of the things I kept promising to myself while I was undergoing, and recuperating from, very painful procedures was: If I get through this, we're all going to Hawaii. If I get through this, we're all going to Hawaii etc etc. So, in February, we packed up our bags and we went to Hawaii.;I couldn't swim, walk for long distances or do many of the things I would normally do on a tropical vacation but that was alright. I lay in the sun and healed. The best medicine there is!While we were away, I had my apprentice here looking after all the dogs. Three days before we came home, I received a text that Diesel had scaled a 7 foot chain link fence to try and visit a female who had come into heat while we were away. She was going to take him to the vet because he had a huge swelling underneath his tail. The vet gave her some antibiotics and told her to keep him quiet. When I came home 3 days later, there had been no improvement so I took him back to the vet. We had done one of those overnight flights and I hadn't slept in 32 hours but I felt he needed to go back right away. My boy was in a lot of pain so sleep was a distant second. (By the time I finally got to bed, it was almost 50 hours since I'd last seen a pillow!) To make a long story shorter, Diesel was at the vet a total of 6 times before they ran out of guesses and tests. Some of which were very painful for him. I always had tears running down my face when he would look up at me and ask with his eyes "Why are you letting them hurt me?"  Man, it even brings tears to my eyes just remembering. If you could only just explain! Something I kept hearing over and over again from the various vets and attendants. "He sure has a great temperament."  And I even heard: "I don't know any other German Shepherd that would allow what we just did without having a muzzle on."  I'm lucky that I was able to be with him through all the testing because of my background.I didn't have to sit in the waiting room and wonder what was going on. Well... except once which I'll explain in a minute. The vets finally sent us to the C.A.R.E. Centre in Calgary which is a referral only vet hospital. They only take on the BIG issues.This was not a good sign.
So, off we go to the CARE Centre where they have human quality ultrasounds, x-ray machines and MRIs. I'm used to going into the testing areas with my dogs and knew it was unlikely I would get to go in with him in this ultra-modern facility where they don't know me. When they came to take Diesel I offered my assistance and told them that I teach Animal Health Techs at Olds College. I was desperately hoping that they would allow me to come with him. The Tech politely declined my offer and Diesel disappeared through the doors. Ten minutes later, she came back into the waiting room and asked me to come back with her. Seems my 110 pound dog didn't want to lay on his back for them. It's not that he was growling or biting, but he was fighting them so hard, they were afraid he would hurt himself. When I got into the Ultrasound room, there was Diesel, front paws on the lap of the tech, asking with all his might, (and those big brown eyes) not to try and put him on his back again. He was very happy to see me!On the table was a huge piece of foam that was about four feet long with a "V" cut in the centre of it. They wanted Diesel to lay in that V so they could do an ultrasound. Little did they know that my dog's don't "DO" upside down for strangers!! We hoisted him up on the foam and I stayed by his head and held his front legs. He lay there for a full half hour!! The whole time they worked, they praised my breeding program for producing a dog as wonderful as Diesel. The outcome of the ultrasound was serious. Diesel had two hernias. Both were located below his anus on either side. The hernias were caused by him straining to go to the bathroom. The reason he was straining was because his prostrate had grown so large, that it squished his ureter into an "S" shape. When we emptied his bladder, the vets could not believe it! This poor dog was holding 2000 mls of urine! And just so you understand how much that is, the average human feels the need to urinate when the bladder is holding between 200-400 mls! TEN TIMES AS MUCH!! The pain must have been horrible! I can't even imagine! And through it all, he toughed it out and nobody ever knew the difference. My poor dog...

There was two options. Spend $6000 for the surgery to save his life... or not. Diesel has been a fantastic dog, having lived up to all my expectations and then some. The down side of the surgery was that he would have to be neutered when they went in to repair the herniasThere would be no more "Little Diesels" running around. I agreed to the surgery. How can you refuse a dog who has given you everything? Some could refuse I guess, but I'm not one of them. What's a little more on the line of credit! Then I had a wonderful idea! I could take him to a canine reproduction specialist and collect and freeze his semen. I could have one last litter from him, keep a son and the pups could pay for the surgery! Brilliant! I delayed the surgery for one more day and I left the house at 4:00AM to go see the specialist. I not only have Diesel with me but I also bring Indy who is supposed to encourage Diesel into a romantic interlude. All goes well until the vet comes back from looking at the sample with his microscope. The poor dog had been stressed for well over a week and he'd been prescribed antibiotics. If you know anything about reproduction, that's the two biggest factors you want to avoid! Stress, meds and babies do not go well together! So there went my great idea. Regardless, we carried on with the plan of surgery the next day. The following day I was up at 3:00AM. (I thought 4:00AM the previous day was early!) As with any surgery, the patient needs to have fasted for 12 hours. I fed Diesel his last meal around 4:00PM the previous day so by the time we arrived at the vets, he would have fasted 15 hours. Mark (bless his heart) got up with me at that ungodly hour. His first question was "What's all these little pieces of red paper all over the floor? As I approached the area, I KNEW what it was! It was the little scraps of paper that used to cover 4 kgs of Roll Over!!! For years, I've always put my full rolls beside the fridge, behind the food saver and blender. Of ALL THE DAYS! Diesel discovered the roll over and consumed the whole thing!! And it's not just your average 4 kgs of meat, but it is CONDENSED meat!! I just about fell over. Of all the days he could of discovered it, why today? I was extremely upset but what was I to do. I called the CARE Centre at 4:00AM (good thing they're open 24/7) and told them of the problem. They said to bring him in anyways but that they would do the surgery at the end of the day, instead of first thing. We knew no matter what time he had found the rollover, that if the surgery was 4:00PM or later, he would have an empty stomach. So, off we go, wondering what other bad things could possibly befall us!Silly question! We were on a roll. Diesel has a life threatening problem; he has to be neutered; his sperm viability is too low to freeze; and his stomach is filled with condensed meat product. At the very least he'll have diarrhea for days, at the worst, he will be unable to have surgery for 24 hours, making the risk of his death even more likely! OMG!!As I'm driving to Calgary, my mind is spinning. What if the surgery doesn't work? What if the surgery causes him to be incontinent for the rest of his life? What if he dies on the operating table? As all these things, and more, are going through my brain, I realise I'm about to pass my turn off and I'm in the very far left lane. Oh good grief! I'm already late because of the rollover fiasco AND I've had to pee for the past hour but there was no place to stop on Deerfoot so my bladder was causing me great concern! Do I dash across three lanes of traffic?! NO!! There's way to many cars! So off I go, roaring past my exit ramp. The next exit is miles down the road, not to mention heading off on a totally different compass setting. I wasn't sure where I was heading but I did know I needed to go North, and I needed a BATHROOM! I ended up in a residential area, and typically, it was one of those with all kinds of cul de sacs and dead ends. I eventually found my way out and started heading toward what I was guessing to be North. Driving, driving, driving even longer, and there's nothing familiar. Not even any gas stations to ask directions. By this time I was in serious pain. I eventually found a hotel in the middle of nowhere so I parked and went in. I didn't want to be rude and ask where the bathroom was first thing, so I asked for directions to the CARE center. Nobody seemed to know but they had called for the manager. She would know but where was she?! At this point I can't even stand up straight anymore so I'm just about to ask for the facilities when she appears from the elevators. She proceeds to give me directions with great detail, even excusing herself momentarily so she can go get me a map. She was a very kind and thoughtful person but I'M DYING HERE! She had barely exhaled from her last sentence when I blurted out "Where's the bathroom?! Not very politely, either! I thanked her for her kindness and shuffled across the lobby to the ladies room. One problem, finally solved. I followed the directions to the letter but what was supposed to turn into a specific road, didn't. I'm lost again!! Diesel is in the back of the Jeep, sleeping peacefully, totally unaware I'm having a bad day. All he cared about was that he was with me, and not left at home. Oh to be a dog! I reach what I think is the road I'm looking for but the light ahead of me was red and I was a dozen cars from the intersection. As I'm sitting waiting, I notice there's an RCMP cruiser coming up behind me. Now normally, this wouldn't bother me one way or another, HOWEVER, the night before while washing my Jeep, I realized that my plates had expired about a week previous. I'd been so worried about Diesel and had been taking him from one vet appointment to another, it didn't even occur to me what the date was! "Please don't notice! Please don't notice! Please don't notice!"  At this point I wish I hadn't had vanity plates that said K9 trainer! Sure! ;Look at me!! With my expired tags!! Oh good grief! I turned on my right signal shortly before the street and watched to see if the cruiser followed suit. No, we're doing good... doing good... DAMN! On comes the right signal light.  Okay, I'm screwed.;BUT his lights weren't on. Maybe... maybe... DAMN!! On comes the lights! That's it! I'm done! $250 fine. Just what I needed!I pull into a strip mall and put the Jeep in park. The RCMP officer pulls up behind me and gets out of the cruiser. As he's walking toward me, I'm starting to get nervous and my hands are shaky. I'm fumbling through my purse and glove compartment looking for the expired registration papers and proof of insurance. As he approached my window, I roll down the glass.;He says "Do you know why I pulled you over?  "Yes" I said. "My tags are expired"  And with that, I BURST into tears!! It was all just too much! I'm blubbering something about a sick dog and getting lost and him eating rollover and how he might die and, and, and... and the poor guy!! I think he actually backed up a little!  I started apologizing for crying explaining that I've never cried being pulled over before!!! Oh good grief!! Now he's going to think I get pulled over all the time!!  Somebody just put some tape on my mouth! Please! He was actually very kind, and understanding.;He asked where I was headed which started a whole new set of tears and verbal diarrhea. Thankfully I had a map of where I was supposed to be, which proved I'd missed my turn and ended up miles from where I was supposed to be. He gave me directions on how to get to my required destination. As I'm apologizing for my behaviour and thanking him for the directions, he brings up the fact that we hadn't dealt with why he had pulled me over. DAMN again! "You make sure your dog is okay first, but THEN make sure you get your registration renewed"."Yes, yes! Thank you! Thank you!"and he was off. If I'd noticed his name I'd give him credit for his kindness. Maybe one day he'll be looking for a GSD and we'll cross paths again. Pay it forward.I eventually found the clinic but I was 45 minutes late. Nobody seemed to mind. I handed over the leash, kissed Diesel on the top of his head and left. I barely made it to the Jeep before the tears starting rolling down my cheeks again. Now we wait...

GOOD NEWS!!  After 7 1/2 hours of surgery, Diesel has come through!!  He will be a very sore dog for a very long time, but HE'S GOING TO BE ALRIGHT!