top of page

Search Results

4 items found for ""

  • 2023 Year in Review at Gracerok

    Thankfully 2023 was a full year of 'lets get back to normal' and we are so grateful that we were able to take advantage of all the opportunities that were once again available to us all, including no restrictions on dog shows, trials, classes, and even air travel (with my first flight in over 5 years to visit family out West)! Like any year, there were both setbacks and celebrations to be had. Here are just a few of the highlights: 2023 started with a setback...sadly in February Trip's (was Ruckus) second home fell through and he was returned to 'Gracerok Boot Camp' once again. After a few months of intensive re-training and grooming, Trip found his 3rd and Forever home close by in Peterborough! I get regular updates on how well he's doing and his achievements with his mom in Rally-O training and couldn't be more grateful that his new home found us! Trip's story isn't really a 'setback' but really more of a wonderful 'meant to be' story! Later in the year a potential new home that I was so excited about for Cinder fell through … during that time we had turned down several other great potential homes thinking we'd found her perfect furever home. It was heartbreaking that it didn't work out for her and now we're back to the drawing board as the other homes have moved on or are sadly no longer interested in her. We really hope that someone will fall in love with her soon and we will have another 'meant to be' story to tell of Cinder providing sunshine, wiggles, sass and snuggles to a new family, hopefully soon in early 2024. Then there was Lyric....she was supposed to be bred in 2023 for her first litter but she decided she didn't want to be a mom this year…a silent or split heat meant that we had to postpone the breeding and hope that she comes in season in time for a nice Summer 2024 litter while our chosen stud dog is still available! On a personal note, the best news for me in 2023 was taking a break from my early retirement by joining a remote work position at the Canadian Kennel Club! This was the best thing that could have happened to me! I was getting bored with retirement, I was restless and had some major home maintenance projects to complete and pay for (LOL)! I enjoy and respect the people I work with at CKC, such a dedicated team of experts whose only goal is to help people navigate the system successfully! My favorite part of the job is the opportunity to help people through problem solving which I love to do and of course it's all dog related…what could be better?! Overall in dogs, this year was Chacha's year! We trained hard and it paid off with Chacha quickly earning his Rally Intermediate and his Rally Advanced obedience titles with high scores including several perfect 100s and all top placements! As a team, we conquered the left pivot, which was our main nemesis and the more advanced titles are now within our reach for 2024. Chacha also briefly made an appearance in the conformation rings this that he is more mature and he finished his CKC Champion title with major wins in deep competition, proving he is both a smarty pants and also looks the part of an Aussie too!! I'm so proud to have owner-handled him to his final points to earn that title as his breeder-owner and I am so grateful to all those who helped and encouraged us along this journey with Chacha!! Sienna did well in conformation on our one and only outing with her this year earning more points towards her Champion title. Sadly, she is not a fan of conformation despite being a beautiful and sound example of the breed so we will be focusing on agility with her for now.....which she absolutely loves. Maybe we will bring her to some select shows in 2024… we'll see what the year brings. Her half brother Tesla is also proving to be an agility prospect and we hope to do more training with him in 2024. Tezz is currently available to a sport home only that could make him shine in ways that I cannot... but if we don't find one we will pursue his agility career here! Here at Gracerok, I started a monthly/quarterly newsletter that will go out to all current and confirmed future owners of a Gracerok Aussie. I'm excited to be able to share resources, information, updates, litter countdowns, and even profiles of our current Gracerok family. With my new job I have less time and energy to get out there and show and trial as much as I would like to but I'm hoping that in 2024 I will find a better work-life balance so I can get into a more fruitful and regular training, trialing and showing routine. But the main priority for this year is to have Lyric's first litter…fingers crossed that the Universe will go our way this time. To all my Gracerok friends, I am so grateful for your support, encouragement and friendship which I always strive to reciprocate. I hope you all are looking forward to a new year with more achievements and friendships and good stories to tell at the end of 2024.

  • Why A "Purebred" Aussie?

    There already are a plethora of articles online about the benefits of purebred dogs. I think that those benefits are well established. So, instead, what I want to do in this month's blog is discuss my personal musings on the nuances of purebred vs non pure-bred Aussie breeding and what it really means for a puppy buyer. But, before any discussion about purebred Aussies, we need to establish -- what exactly IS a purebred dog? In Canada, the definition of purebred boils down to this: Purebred means any Dog or Cat that is registered or eligible for registration with an association incorporated under the Animal Pedigree Act, R.S.C, 1985, c. 8 (4th Supp.), as amended. What does this mean?? The simple answer is that unless the dog is registered or eligible to be registered with the Canadian Kennel Club, it cannot be represented as purebred. Plain and simple. Yep, that breeder you met on the farm who told you that "papers don't matter", her dogs are 'pure Aussies' even though the sire looks like he is part hound, is committing a Federal Offence if she sells you that puppy as a 'purebred Aussie'. Run, don't walk -- in the opposite direction!!! And as an, combining the names of two different breeds to create a new 'breed' from that mix does not make it a breed...but that is a topic of a whole other blog!! Typically, and I don't want to generalize too much here, but typically breeders like this are breeding for a few reasons: $$$$ money $$$$ They want their children to see the 'miracle of birth' They love their pet dog Delilah and they want to make another one just like her because she has pretty markings or one blue eye It was an "oops" litter and "somehow" Rex got into Delilah's area while she was in season and, oh well, now we have puppies $$$$ money $$$$ Their parents bred Cock-a-poos and it's just something the family does with their pet dogs Their friend had a litter of puppies and they were so cute that they wanted to try it $$$$ money $$$ Now, I'm not saying some breeders of purebreds (and even some show breeders!) don't also breed for these reasons but in the non-purebred breeding world of backyard breeders and puppy mills these reasons are the stand-outs. Do you REALLY want to find your next family companion of the next 12 to 15 years to come from a breeder whose motivation is one or all of these?? Unfortunately, not all purebreds are created equal. With increased regulation of volume breeders (aka puppy mills), these breeders are required to register their litters and puppies to retain their kennel licenses. Hundreds of puppies are produced each year and all of them are registered with the Canadian Kennel Club. Does this make them quality dogs worthy of joining your home as a member of your family? Maybe. Maybe not. Purebred only really means that the dog is of a breed that is recognized and registered by one or more dog registries and that parentage is proven and traceable back many generations through a pedigree of registered a family tree for dogs. It doesn't mean you are getting a healthy puppy with a balanced and stable temperament that conforms well to it's breed standard. Registries set standards for breeds structure, temperament and purpose and provide ethics and bylaws for breeders to follow (e.g., the Australian Shepherd Breed Standard) but dogs of most breeds are not required to undergo an assessment of whether they meet those standards in order to be registered. There are even breeders who show their dogs who are producing very poor examples of their breed so titles are not the only thing to look for when looking at a breeder. I know, it can be very confusing!! So, what are you to do? Why look for a purebred Aussie and not just get one from the farm or a volume breeder then if being purebred and even having titles doesn't really mean quality...after all you just want a pet not a show dog. Isn't it a crapshoot anyway? No, there are plenty of breeders who breed purpose-bred purebred Aussies that are healthy and structurally and temperamentally sound...AND are actually purebred with traceable lineage and predictable looks, temperament, behaviors and health. Breeders like myself - Gracerok Aussies! {{This is my blog, why not toot my own horn, lol!!}} Look for ethical breeders who are complying with their breed club's bylaws to promote and preserve their breeds and are breeding for the following reasons or have these values: they want to preserve their chosen breed: this means they CARE about the breed as a whole and are dedicated to producing Aussies that are good representatives of their breed they breed to the breed standard: this means they are striving to produce Aussies that look, act, and live like the breed founders wanted when they created the breed standard all those years ago and can still perform the function for which that breed was originally created they choose the parents carefully based on complementary traits, health, soundness and breed type: they're not just putting any two dogs together to make puppies and hoping for the best. They want their puppies to be healthy and sound and make excellent companions for their new homes for the years to come they health test the parents: This doesn't mean a trip to the vet for a 'healthy' comment on their vet records. This means they do the minimum of what is needed and known in science to ensure they produce healthy puppies free of known genetic diseases common in the breed For example they do x-rays of the hips and elbows with published results rated clear of hip/elbow dysplasia by the governing body Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and DNA testing to check for carrier or affected status of conditions like Collie Eye Anomaly or other testable genetic conditions that commonly impact Aussies This is something you must look for as it can save you years of expense and heartache that can come with a dog of mixed and unknown heath and temperament lineage that ends up with severe health or temperament issues they provide health guarantees and will take the puppy back if it doesn't work out for whatever reason. They will stand by their puppies and take responsibility for what they produce for the life of that puppy. they screen their puppy buyers to make sure their homes are suitable to take on a breed like an Aussie and to ensure the best fit for life they want to improve the breed: look, I founded and, for 10 years, I organized/led an Aussie Meetup Group with 500+ members and we met monthly for fun outings on trails and dog beaches. During that time I witnessed many poor representatives of the breed, some that didn't even look like an Aussie but supposedly were "pure Aussie". Some had horrible structure, roached backs, overly long legs, snipey muzzles, too much or too little substance, straight front and rear angulation, short coats, scrawny or overly bulky, extremely hyper temperaments, and many with reactive temperaments that couldn't get along with other people or dogs!! During that time I witnessed many poor representatives of the breed It was this experience with my Meetup Group that propelled me to want to get involved in showing and breeding Australian Shepherds. I felt like I just couldn't stand by silently and watch while irresponsible breeders were quietly and quickly ruining this beautiful breed. So, for me it wasn't so much the sport of showing and winning ribbons and titles, it was to breed quality, sound of health, body, and mind Aussies of a breed type that appealed to me -- and to send these representatives of the breed out into the community as ambassadors of their breed. When choosing your next family member, remember that not all purebred Aussie breeders are alike. They don't all produce the same type or style of Aussie and they don't all have the same values or commitment to the actual breed. There is currently HUGE variation in the of the things that I actually love about the breed. Every Aussie breeder, ethical or not, breeds a different "style" or type of Aussie. Unlike breeds like Beagles or Golden Retrievers, Aussies are not identical regardless of breeder. When doing your homework on your next furry family member, choose the breeder that produces the "style" of Aussie that you like and stick with that breeder. Aussies are not interchangeable, they can be very different depending on your breeder-- so make sure you will be getting what you want in your next family member. Make a list of the looks, temperament and energy level, coat type, amount of substance, and health clearances you want to have. Look at the breeder's web site photographs and descriptions of the relatives of the next litter. Yes, even read the pedigrees and look up those dogs to see if they are the type of Aussie you like. Instead of getting on 10 different puppy lists and just grabbing the first puppy that becomes available, choose a responsible breeder of purebred Aussies who produces the style and type you love and you will increase your chances that you will end up with exactly what you want to live with for the next 12 to 15 years. A beautiful, predictable, healthy and sound Australian Shepherd. It's what we all want isn't it?

  • I Can Just Train My Aussie Myself...

    When thinking about what to write for my Spring 2023 Gracerok blog, I kept coming back to something I see far too often in online pet dog groups and even in my own puppy applications. It seems like everyone these days thinks that dogs are so easy to raise that they practically train themselves. Or, they've seen a few of those dog trainer shows on television and think they've learned all they need to know about how to train their new Aussie. Or, all it takes is to post a question about their barking, digging, obnoxious dog to random new dog owners on the internet group and they'll find a magical solution. Besides, when they were 6 years old their family had a cute little Cock-a-Poo and he was so well behaved, how hard can it be? Piece of cake. Shhhhsssssttt! Unfortunately, kids just don't see all the work mom and dad did behind the scenes cleaning up pee on the kitchen floor, picking up chewed shoes, and figuring out how to walk family fido without losing an arm and molding their puppy into a manageable family member. With the popularity of Aussies soaring well into the Top 10 Canadian Kennel Club registered breeds in Canada, at Number 6 (!) in 2022, these beautiful and intelligent dogs can be seen everywhere and it seems everyone wants one. Yes, Aussies are beautiful. But they are a newer breed... did you know they were only recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club in 1992? Aussies have only been moving towards being family companion dogs since their parent club, the Australian Shepherd Club of America was established in 1957, so until quite recently they were primarily working herding dogs and many still are today. Bred to work sheep or cattle all day in all types of terrain and weather conditions, how does such a breed suddenly adapt to living in an urban environment with cars quckly passing by, loud noises everywhere, and other dogs and people invading their space? What does it take to have a calm, confident Aussie instead of a neurotic, barking, digging, chewing lunging menace? These dogs will EASILY outsmart the average owner. There are many things that will help accomplish a favorable result. One of them is: Training. Training led by a professional with appropriate certifications who participates in continuing education to keep up with the ever evolving science of dog training. How does one access such training? Classes or private sessions. Do a Google search for dog training schools in your area. The internet is truly a miracle. These are the best of times! There is a proliferation of good dog training schools everywhere. The science of positive reinforcement or similar techniques is fast becoming mainstream and I couldn't be more giddy about that! So why are so many dog owners completely unaware that going to classes to learn how to train their dog is a thing? What's the deal with "I work with a private trainer"? Was it Covid that did that? Does going to a class for dog training have a bad reputation? I don't have the answer. But I'm telling you IS a thing. Even before the internet existed I was taking my dogs to training classes-- since the mid 1970s! The first thing I did when my parents gifted me with a poodle puppy for my 14th birthday was to enrol in classes. I ended up taking many classes and competing in dog shows in obedience and conformation and earned titles at both ends of her name. Despite decades of taking classes and knowing I can train on my own, I don't. Why? Because taking my dog to a class will help build their confidence in new environments. It exposes them to new people, places, and other dogs in a safe, controlled environment and teaches them to focus on their handler (me!) and learn that good things happen (treats!) when they go out in the world. The structure of a class, with daily homework in between each class, gives me the kick in the butt to practise at least 3 to 4 times during the week. I do 10 minute sessions with no more than 6 repetitions of each exercise. Aussies don't enjoy being drilled and will shut down or start offering other behaviors if you force them to keep doing the same thing over and over. Feedback from the trainer helps me to continue to improve and customise my technique and timing to the needs of each individual dog, thus getting even better results. And believe me, it's easy to get good results with an Aussie...they're usually the star of every class and make you look like a superstar trainer don't ya know?! Classes and the homework sessions in between help to strengthen the bond between me and my dog. Aussies love to work for their owners and each session improves our communication with each other and increases our mutual understanding of how we communicate. Regular practise with my dog in between classes makes me more in tune with my dog and I'm more likely to notice when something is 'off' that might need adjusting. Maybe my dog is going through a fear period and is suddenly nervous of cars going by or other dogs on walks. Having that closer connection forged through regular training means that I'll notice that sooner and will be able to make adjustments to our routine, our route, or my training technique to address the situation and help to make my dog more comfortable. A relationship with a good dog school gives me a connection to training resources when a need may arise. I'll have faster access to professional help and advice when I need it. Going to classes with my dog gives me a sense of what they enjoy. Each of my dogs is different. I currently have one dog who loves doing agility stuff. Another loves heelwork and Rally Obedience. Classes provide the inspiration to explore more of the activities that I enjoy and that my dog enjoys. And Aussies NEED activities to be calm, mentally satisfied and stable members of my household. Dogs don't come pre-programmed to be perfect family members...they are a different species, after all. Kids go to school for years to learn how to be good family members, why not dogs..they are like children, they are family members, and they need schooling to teach them how to be a good family member and canine good citizens.

  • NEW!!! Gracerok Aussieblog: Musings of a Preservation Breeder

    I recently received a short email inquiry for a stud dog and immediately found myself writing a long, rambling response, including a checklist, outlining costs, and sharing the challenges, hardships and joys of being a responsible, ethical, preservation breeder. I pressed 'send' and never heard from the person again. I'm sure they didn't know what hit them and I'm certain my long response was not what they expected. All I can do is hope that they took it to heart and that they will pause before rushing into breeding their pet Aussie. I have opinions. Lots of them. Strong ones. Most, I hope, are well-informed and reasonable. I enjoy researching and diving deep into topics that I'm passionate about and the sport of showing and breeding purebred dogs is no exception. Continuous learning about my favorite subjects is my MO. I do extensive reading of books, online forums and web sites and blogs, take seminars, and attend workshops in order to stay current. I'm not infallible and can be wrong and I'm sure I have been many times and will be again...I will readily admit when I am. Teachable. That is my goal. And while I'm on this learning journey, I want to share what I've learned with others who are also wanting to remain teachable. What is the point of having knowledge if its not shared to help others along in their journeys? So to that end, I've started this blog. Blogs, I've been told, are one reads blogs's all about podcasts and videos now. Well, I don't enjoy the sound of my voice and prefer writing so this written blog will have to do for those who still read! I plan to explore a wide range of topics and to include some rants as well! After all it's my blog and I can include what I want! I'll be seeking ideas for topics too so I can do research and report back on things that I may not have thought about. Topics may range from: - Stud Dog searches, - Breeding for Responsible Breeders, - showing dogs, - performance dogs, - raw feeding, - positive reinforcement/marker-based training, - responsible vs backyard breeders, - breeder restricting legislation in Canada and international, - Aussie-related health topics, - reviews of dog supplies (e.g., whelping boxes), and - the breed standard and more! I hope you will tune in to see what's on my mind and share what's on your mind too!!

bottom of page