A New Tracking Dog

On Sunday, Arizona and Huib were entered in Scentral Ontario Trackers’ TD test.

Arizona was successful and earned her TD, or tracking dog title!!!

At the draw, Huib drew the fourth track, to which I said: “maybe you guys will be lucky, as that was the same number Rogue got her TD under.”

The weather was great. It was cool, slightly humid and there was virtually no wind. When Huib saw the third dog start their track, he went to relieve Ari. She was revved!!! She wanted to do some crittering and was bouncing around like a kangaroo. He was a bit worried about her enthusiasm, lol!!!

When Huib and Arizona went to do their track, I stood with Laura, our instructor, and got a play-by-play of their progress.

Ari had a good start and seemed to know what to do. On the second leg, she paused for a minute, but continued on without Huib needing to say too much. They made their way along the rest of the track smoothly, but then Ari stopped… They were about 20 feet from the final article!!!

Laura and I began to pray. I tried to send Huib good thoughts, and patient reminders.

It was a freaking nail biter!!!

Arizona sniffed, probably looking for mice. Then at times, she looked back at the judge and track layer. Laura and I thought she was a goner.

As handlers, we cannot say too much, so Huib said he waited her out, and anytime she liked back at the judge, he calmly, but firmly said “leave it, find.”

I’m not sure exactly how long she stood there, but finally she started walking forward. Laura and I held our breath…

And, she did it!!!

It took her about 10 minutes, but she finished her track!!!

Laura and I were so excited!!! We hugged each other and both said we wanted to cry, lol!!!

Huib has been working hard with Arizona to get to this point, so to see her succeed was huge!!!

2017 has sure been a good year for,

UKC CH. Taygold’s Kindred Spirit TD WC.

Ankle Update & Workout Review

On Monday, Huib and I went to Victoria Road’s 9pm fitness swim. The pool was surprisingly quiet; We had a lane to ourselves for the first half hour.

I swam 1000 metres total. I did the first 500 m in 24 minutes – which is about a minute or two faster than I’ve done before. I felt pretty good, so we kept swimming and did the final 500 m in 28 minutes.

I have really come a long way in the past four months of swimming. I still need my nose plug, and I still can’t get my legs to cooperate on a regular basis, but I’m swimming faster and I’m more confident.

On Tuesday, I got back onto the treadmill. My ankle seems good. I’m guessing it’s totally healed, but I still need to take it easy and slowly build up its muscles and flexibility.

For my first workout, I did 30 minutes of walking at 3.5 miles per hour. I felt good about this starting pace. This speed is not far off my fastest comfortable pace of 3.7 that I had reached before the injury. I will probably stay at this pace for a couple weeks, or until I feel it’s too easy.

My ankle started to hurt a bit after 20 minutes, but it didn’t worsen, so I kept going. The mild discomfort lasted only half an hour after I finished the workout.

On Wednesday, I wanted to go swimming, but the icky weather caused a migraine, so I took meds and slept instead.

On Thursday, Huib and I went to Victoria Road’s 9pm swim, and did 700 metres. The wall dividing the deep and shallow ends was moved back, making the pool 50 metres long, instead of 25. This also meant that there were less lanes, so the pool was pretty busy.

We had to share our lane with five other people. I focused on getting through the 700 m, and did not keep track of the time. This is the first time I’ve done the 50 m swim in a long time, so it was good to get back to it. I felt good about it. I didn’t have to take a break at the 25 m mark, and I didn’t panic I’m the deeper half – PROGRESS!!!

On Friday, D came and we did a 4.6 kilometre route. We ran for 20 seconds, 10 times. I feel as though it is time to increase the seconds of running, so we’re going to try for 25 seconds. My ankle felt good, and my leg muscles weren’t sore.

Sadly, I am going to need to look for a new guide runner soon. D finishes school in December, and C is too busy with work and other commitments. I am hoping to re-join the Running Room crew and maybe I’ll find a guide with them. I may also email Student Volunteer Connections to see if anyone can help.

Stay tuned for more swimming and running adventures. 😉

Celebrating a Birthday

Today, the oldest member of our crew has a birthday.

HAPPY 14TH BIRTHDAY CESSNA!!!

You were an amazing partner, keeping me safe for 8 years as my guide dog. Now that you are retired, you no longer want to come on as many road trips, but you continue to keep us company at home. Thank you for all that you have done, and for all that you continue to do.

I shared a couple new Cessna pictures on Facebook. You can find them here. One is a front view and the other is a side view, so that she could show off her new collar. It is a teal nylon flat collar with a navy blue and white paisley design in the middle.

I know I say this all of the time, but it is hard to believe Cessna is already 14. Time sure flies!!!

It was hard to decide on a good birthday gift for my old girl. Cessna doesn’t really play much, and she already has a nice braided leather leash and a warm winter coat, so I chose a fancy new collar and a package of soft, beef flavoured Merrick treats.

Cessna, over the past twelve and a half years, we have had a lot of wonderful adventures together. I hope we have a chance to create some more memories.

Please help me wish my little partner a very HAPPY 14TH BIRTHDAY!!!

A New Title

I posted this on Facebook and Twitter, but for those who do not follow me there…

Arizona got Best of Breed at the Grand River Kennel Club’s UKC conformation show on Saturday morning.

With this win, she has finished her conformation title!!!

We were so proud of her. Not only did she finish her title, but Ari also earned her first win against another golden. Normally, she is the only golden entered, so has earned her wins at the group level. This made the win extra special for us.

Arizona has really matured since her first UKC show at a year of age. Huib says she now stacks on her own and seems to understand her job in the ring. He isn’t sure she loves it, so we probably won’t make her enter anymore, but we are proud of her efforts. She is such a good sport!!!

Huib said that Ari might have been able to earn a group placement, but that she didn’t really react much to the judge’s efforts to animate her. I guess she thought it was her job to be more serious, and didn’t really appreciate his attempt to distract her, lol!!

After the show, we took her for a celebratory Whopper. In this picture, Arizona is eating the top half of her burger, while the rest waits in the wrapper.

A conformation title isn’t too important to most performance people, but we didn’t have a chance to obtain Arizona’s CCA, or Certificate of Conformation Assessment, so we’re hoping prospective puppy buyers will see the title as proof of good structure. UKC judges seem to focus on a dog’s structure and movement, more than their looks, so I really think this title is a pretty great achievement for Ari.

Until next time, stay safe and have fun!!

Can Negative Experiences Influence How a Dog Sleeps?

I was skimming Twitter and found this article.

The study examined the sleep patterns of dogs after being exposed to a positive or negative experience. The researchers found that the dogs who were subjected to a positive experience, took longer to fall asleep, but slept better.

I thought the study findings were really interesting. When my dogs have had a busy day, especially one that has been stressful, they seem to dream a lot more. They’ll bark, run and even whimper in their sleep. I have noticed that my service dogs do the most active dreaming, compared to my pets.

Catching Up

A lot has happened over the past couple of weeks. I was unwell last week, so unable to update the blog.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend Piper came to visit. She has a bit of a shoulder injury, so we weren’t able to play any fetch, but we did go for long walks. To make things less busy, Huib took the goldens for bike rides, then him and I took Piper and Rogue for a walk. Neither Piper or Rogue enjoy the bike, so the arrangement worked well.

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On the 15th, Rogue attempted to earn her UTD (urban tracking dog) title. Unfortunately, she got caught up in a cross-track, and was unsuccessful. Our judge, Sharon Smith, was great!! She gave us tons of room to work and fail. After talking to her later on, I felt better knowing there was really nothing I could have done differently to save us.

We are going to do more work on cross-tracks and tracking on soft surfaces. I felt her hard surface tracking was a lot stronger than her soft surface tracking. I think it might be because we worked a lot on hard surface when my ankle was healing.

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On the 18th, D came over and we went for a walk/run. I wasn’t feeling perfectly well, so we didn’t do a lot of running, but it felt good to get back into it. We did our 4 kilometre route, running for 20 seconds. four different times, on quieter streets.

My leg muscles were a bit sore the following day, but my ankle felt good.

I still want to get back to the pool, and do some work at the gym on the bike and elliptical, but it was nice to start running again.

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Arizona’s test results came back from Paw Print Genetics. She is clear of everything, except PRA 2, which she is a carrier of. This means we cannot use the stud we had hoped to use, so we’re looking at other options.

Now we have to get her heart, hips and elbows cleared.

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On Saturday, we met up with Laura and some others to track at Guelph Lake. I had hoped to have all three of the dogs track, but the Grand River Conservation Authority has closed park access to cars, so we weren’t able to find space for many tracks. As a result, only Arizona got a chance to work.

Ari did a fabulous job!!! Even though the track conditions were poor, she worked hard and did not do much ‘crittering.’

Huib has decided to try and enter Arizona into the November 12th TD test.

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On Sunday, it was really nice weather, so Susie put on a field session.

Arizona was hesitant about entering the water, so I called her back to set her up again and resend her. She jumped in and went straight for the duck, brought it back and gave it to me. I almost dropped it, but caught it by the foot, lol!! Her second retrieve was perfect.

On land, Susie had us set up things, so the dogs would have to go through a variety of covers.

Canyon joined us, wearing his Ruffwear Swamp Cooler vest to stay cool in the sun.

Huib had him do the first two land retrieves, before I sent Arizona. He was great!!! Even though he ran a bit short of the bird, he searched and located it without any assistance – Good Boy!!

Arizona did two beautiful land retrieves.

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Before I sign off, a quick update on Canyon’s seizures.

After seven months and ten days without a seizure, Canyon had a very mild one on Friday evening. I say “very mild” because it really never progressed past the initial tensing of the body. It might have been that Huib got Rescue Remedy into him within a minute of Canyon telling us there’s a problem, or maybe it’s something else, but we were happy with the improvement.

Now we’re hoping for at least month before his next.

Update

It has been 10 days since I last posted an entry.

What have we been up to…?

Rogue got a spot in the October 15th urban tracking test. This will be our fourth attempt at earning her UTD (urban tracking dog) title.

We have been trying to practice every other day. Huib has been laying tracks without treats and without giving me any clues as to where they go. Rogue is doing an amazing job!!

On Monday, she struggled a bit in one area, where there was a sort of hedge, but she figured it out without my assistance. If we had been in a test, the judge would have whistled because we were more than 30 feet off the track, but I still felt good about her work because she figured out where she needed to go.

On the final leg, there were several cars parked over the track, that had not been there when Huib first laid it, so Rogue had to work hard to find her article. It ended up being just under the front wheel of a car. When she found it, she yanked it out and tossed it at Huib, lol!!

On Wednesday, Huib laid a track and then it rained. We weren’t sure how it would go, since there were no treats and we weren’t sure if the rain might wash away the scent. Rogue did it perfectly!!!

She missed one plastic article, and took a few minutes on one spot, but otherwise did her track flawlessly!!

I love working with this girl!! She sometimes becomes uncertain, but she always refuses to give up.

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On the workout front.

My ankle is almost totally back to normal. I slightly injured it on Monday, when we were going down a hill while tracking, but the pain only lasted a few minutes. After the tracking incident, we decided to lay low and not go swimming.

On Tuesday, D came and we went for a 4 kilometre walk. I thought my upper leg muscles were going to hurt the following day, but nothing happened. 🙂

D is going to come next week, and we’ll try running a bit – just 10-20 seconds at a time for now.

Rogue has been joining us on the walks. She wears her walking harness that Robin made, so she’s comfortable and I can easily control her movements. She gets a bit excited when we pass other dogs or when she sees cats, but otherwise she’s been great. I think we may continue bringing her for now.

Huib had a pretty busy work week last week, so we haven’t had a chance to swim since before our trip to Ottawa. I hope to return to the pool soon.

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Field classes are over for the season. It gets too dark, too soon. so I think we’ll be switching over to obedience. If possible, I’d really like to try for Arizona’s PCD (pre-novice obedience) title before March.

Before I sign off, I wanted to share some good news with everyone. Canyon has not had a seizure since March 12th, which means it’s been over six months!! I wanted to mention this exciting news because this has been the longest period between seizures since about 2014. I know they won’t stay away forever, but I thought we should celebrate anyway. 🙂

And, That’s A Wrap…

On Sunday, Arizona had her final hunt test of 2017, and the result was mixed. On one hand, she did two beautiful land retrieves, but on the other, she had her usual challenges with water. I was happy with her performance, and her water work did not surprise me, but I think Huib was disappointed.

Here’s a picture of Arizona in the field before she does her land retrieves.

*** Note for my blind and visually impaired readers: Arizona is standing in a field with tall grass and stuff around her. She is wearing her black and silver rope slip lead. ***

It has been a really warm week in Ontario. For the most part, we have been dealing with 27-30 degree weather, with the humidity often making it feel close to 40 degrees celsius.

Yesterday was no exception.

We packed the cooler with lots of water, and juice for us, as well as a bag containing the dogs’ Ruffwear Swamp Cooler vests. Huib pre-wet the vests and added some additional water to the bag, so they’d be ready for the dogs to wear. When I purchased the vests a couple years ago, I was sceptical of their effectiveness, but after two weekends of testing, I can honestly say they help.

With Canyon’s seizures, we always worry about him getting too warm, but he enjoys coming with us, so I’m really glad the vests work.

Arizona was dog #8 for juniors. We watched the first five dogs run, and then got her out of the car. I worried about the heat, but she seemed to be unaffected for the most part.

I got her set up in the blind, fixing her leash and getting her excited to go. When our number was called, Huib calmly walked us to the line. I think maybe the heat helped calm her a bit, as she did not try to get to the line on two feet.

Once I was facing the correct direction, Huib backed up and I got Arizona positioned before asking her to “sit.” It took a couple times, but finally, she sat – not sure what was up with that…

I wanted to give Ari a bit to get a good view of the set up. After about 30 or so seconds, I gave the judges the “we’re ready” signal. The judge blew the duck call and the gunner did his thing.

I was a bit worried about how Ari would do with Dean, from our training group, as gunner, but she was fine.

When I got the judge’s signal, I released Arizona. She went towards the duck, then veered off to see Dean, but then searched and found the duck. I whistled and she came charging back. Huib was surprised by how quickly she returned, so was a bit off on his count. As a result, she got a bit past me, but she didn’t drop the bird and I got it. Huib had a similar issue on the second duck, so she got behind me, but I got it and we passed the land portion – GOOD GIRL!!!

Over the winter and spring, I will need to start working on having Ari come to my side and sit before I take the bird. This is part of WCI, and will also help stop the need to search for her when she returns.

By the time we got over to the water, which happens to be the pond we worked in last Sunday, it was extremely hot and there was really no shade anywhere. To keep Rogue and Canyon from getting too warm in the car, Huib put a towel over the windows the sun faced and one of the car mats over the front window. We also put their Swamp Coolers on. I stayed in the air conditioned car with Ari and the others, until it was almost our turn.

When we got into the blind, Huib offered Ari some water while we waited, and I fixed her leash.

When the judges called our number, we slowly walked up to the line. Arizona was a little more excited, so I had to stop every other step in order to remind her to chill, and walk on four feet.

The sun was really bright, so the pond had a lot of reflections. I wanted to give Arizona a good amount of time to look out and see what was happening. I think the judges thought I was ready, so did the duck call a bit earlier than I would have liked, but I don’t think it made a difference. When I got the signal, I released Ari.

She walked about 10 feet into the pond and laid down, then got up and walked da bit further before lying down again. I repeated my command a few times, and it looked like she might actually go, but then I knew it was no use, so called her back in. The judges said I could resend her, so I set her up and when she was looking in the correct direction, I released her. Huib said she started swimming towards the bird, but appeared lost, so the judges asked the gunner to toss a rock in.

I already knew we weren’t going to pass, but I wanted her to have an opportunity to try.

Ari swam to the bird and the judge thought she had it, so told me to whistle and I did. Unfortunately, she was about a foot away, so she missed it, but did turn around and return to me immediately upon hearing the whistle – sort of, good girl!!

If she had known how to ‘cast,’ or follow directions, I could have helped her find the duck, but we haven’t done this yet. This is our winter work.

The judge then suggested we send her for the second bird. I set her up, the judge and gunner did their thing, and then I released her. She immediately jumped into the pond, swam out to the duck and returned – GOOD GIRL!!!

Even though we didn’t earn another JH leg, we learned from the experience. Arizona also showed me consistency on her land retrieves, so maybe with some work, we’ll get there in water.

This year has been a really good one for Arizona in field. She has shown a lot of progress in many areas. Even though she lacks water courage, she has shown a desire to learn, so I will keep showing her how it’s done.

I need to find a way to make her see retrieving the duck, as me needing her to help me out, instead of just something she’s being asked to do for no reason. Arizona loves to carry things for me and deliver stuff from person-to-person in the house, so I think I need to make her think this is what retrieving ducks is all about. She is only three years old, so we’ve got lots of time to figure it out together.

I think we’ve got a few more field group classes left, then we will head indoors and switch over to obedience training.

Hunt Test Success

It was a good hunt test weekend.

On Saturday, Arizona did two beautiful land retrieves. Huib said she ran out and ran back faster than she has done before. He thought she looked quite flashy!!

Over lunch, we met some people and got to reconnect with others from last year.

While waiting for Air’s turn in the water, Huib and I met a woman who has an 18 month old female golden, whose sire is the male we are considering for Arizona in March. Shelby is a very nice looking girl, who loves the water and to retrieve.

After meeting her, and Anne’s Teal, we are really hoping Arizona is found clear for ichthyosis, so she can be bred with Kip.

When it was Arizona’s turn for water, I got her set up and ready to go. The judge did their duck call, the gunner did theirs and then shot the gun as they tossed the duck into the pond. Once the judge said “dog,” I released her.

She ran 10 feet into the pond and laid down. I told her “fetch,” and she walked a couple more feet before lying down again. She then got up and walked along the water a bit, looking around. At this point, I knew we were done, which was confirmed when the judge suggested I call her back and resend. He felt it would be good to get something out of the opportunity.

I’m not sure why, but it took a bit to get her to return to my side. Once she did, the judge asked the gunner to do the duck call again, so I could resend and Ari would know where to go. She jumped into the water and began to swim towards the bird.

The duck was about 70 or so feet away, and she had to swim through a channel to get there. In training, we have never done channels or retrieves this far, so when Ari got through the narrowing, she lost sight of the bird. The gunner tossed a rock into the pond and she swam over to the bird, returning it back to me.

I don’t think the distance was an issue, but we will definitely need to work on swimming through channels.

Huib also says I need to work on my tone of voice more. He thought I sounded a bit too suggestive when asking Arizona to come back to me. He doesn’t think it would have made a big difference in the results, but maybe there’s a 20-30 percent chance things could have turned out better.

Even though we were unsuccessful, I learned some things we need to work on, so the trip was definitely worthwhile.

On Sunday, Arizona did two beautiful land retrieves – GOOD GIRL!!!

Huib overheard one of the judges saying they liked her look, so that was pretty neat. Another cool thing about the judges, was that one is the breeder of Kip.

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As a side note, when the day was over, I got a chance to talk to her about potentially using him, and she said that he would bring some good things to Arizona’s puppies.

I am getting pretty excited about breeding her, but then I’m also really nervous.

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As we were walking back to the car, a few other handlers complimented me on Arizona. I think she’s a pretty fun dog to work with, but she can also be really frustrating. 🙂

While the other dogs had their turn, I sat with some of the handlers and we chatted about… dogs. 😉

Arizona stayed with us, so that she wouldn’t bark and bother the other dogs as they worked. She was pretty good about lying beside me, but after a while got bored and whined. At one point, a dog in the senior hunt group walked by and tried to start an argument. Huib was holding Arizona’s leash at the time and said she did nothing, just moved a bit when the dog got really in her face – GOOD GIRL!!!

After lunch, we all went to see where we’d be working for water. I was a bit nervous about the fact we would be using a different pond, but I also knew I couldn’t control the situation, so just needed to stay calm.

When it was Ari’s turn, we walked up to the shore and got set up. The judge and gunner did their thing, but the bird did not make much of a splash. At first, the judges felt it might be okay, so gave me the signal to release her. I did and she walked about 10 feet in and laid down. As she was lying down, the judges had decided to call it a “no bird,” because they thought it was unfair to make a junior dog work without a splash, as it wouldn’t give them enough of a visual. They asked me to call her in and got another dog to come and retrieve the bird.

We returned to the blind and waited to be called back to the line.

When it was our turn, I got her set up, and released her when I got the sign.

She ran right into the water and jumped in – YAY!!! She swam directly to the bird and then came right back and gave it to me. I did the same thing with the second bird and she handed it directly to me -GOOD GIRL!!!

Arizona isn’t a fast or flashy swimmer, but she can get the job done.

As a result of her work, she PASSED, earning her first JH leg.

Here’s a picture of her and I posing with her rosette.

For my blind readers: I’m wearing a black long-sleeved shirt, black pants, grey shoes with pink laces, black Oakley sunglasses and my black hat that has CESSNA written in yellow. I think the rosette is green and brown, but I could be wrong. We’re in front of a rock. I’m kneeling with her sitting in front of me.

Oh yeah, as we were about to leave, the club members remembered that they still needed to do the draws for the 50/50 draw and the gift basket. They asked me to pick a ticket first and I picked out my own ticket. Then, they asked another person to pick a ticket, and he picked me again, lol!!!

Who knows how we’ll do, but as long as nothing comes up, we’re going to enter her into another hunt test on Sunday. It’s at the same location, so I’m hoping she’ll do okay. The owner of the place seems really friendly, so I may ask if we can take her for a short dunk in the pond during lunch, see if we can overcome the initial need to lie down.

In the meantime, it’s going to be a busy week for us. Tonight, we’ll go swimming at 9pm. Tomorrow, Arizona has field class, and afterwards, D and I are going to go for a walk. On Wednesday, I’m going to attend the first day of the Canadian General Standards Board’s Service Dog Committee meeting over the phone. At night, we’re off to Ottawa until Saturday morning, so I can attend the other two days in-person. Saturday, we’ll go tracking with our friend Michelle and her English Springer, Cameron, before heading home.

Until next time, stay safe and have fun!!!

Much Better

Finally…a good field class!!!

After weeks of problems, Arizona had a great class last night.

Since she has a test this weekend, Susie had us work on exactly what we will need to know for the test.

Arizona laid down at first when I released her to retrieve the first duck, but with a bit of encouragement, she got into the water. Unfortunately, she thought I wanted her to get me a stick, so came back on land with it. I told her, “no, leave it. Fetch!!” and pointed towards the duck. She turned around and got back into the water – Good Girl!!

She is doing really well on her whistle recalls, so I’m trying not to use any verbal. I only talked to her when she was coming out of the water and walking towards me. I wanted to keep her mind on the task, and avoid any detours that might cause her to drop the bird or shake before delivering it. She came right over, gave me the duck and then shook and waited for me to put her leash back on.

Susie asked me to try using a firmer tone when I sent her for the next bird.

I got her set up for the next retrieve, and she did it perfectly!!!

When we were done, Susie said she would like me to continue working on the tone of my commands. She feels it will help Arizona get the picture, if I start using firmer cues, and not so happy or questioning ones. Huib says he will help me.

I think my hearing issues are part of why I cannot recognize the tones I’m using when giving my commands. I didn’t actually realize that some of my verbal cues sound a bit more like questions – OOPS!!!

For land, I asked if we could work on having Arizona run past the gunner. She cues off the gunners, so has been struggling with finding the duck when it is tossed behind them.

The first bird was tossed, so that Ari had to run past the gunner to find it. When I released her, she went over to say hi to the gunner, and then went to find the duck. Sometimes she forgets where the bird landed, after her greeting, so I was a bit worried she’d run into difficulties. She remembered and brought it right back to me – GOOD GIRL!!!

The second duck was tossed using a winger, so she didn’t find it as tough to locate. Ari still thought she needed to greet Laura, who was controlling the winger, but she thankfully found the duck and brought it back.

With her successful land retrieves and the second water retrieve working out well, I felt a lot more comfortable about our upcoming test.

I think Huib and I are going to do some work in the park tomorrow, so I can practice using a firm tone of voice.

Please cross your fingers and paws for a positive test result. Even if we just earn one leg, I’ll feel okay about the weekend. If Arizona still has problems on the weekend, then we probably won’t enter the Muskoka hunt test on the 24th.