Tracking Updates

I haven’t written about tracking in a while. We have been working on it though.

Over the past month, we have been tracking a few times a week.

Rogue is doing really, really well. Her work ethic is amazing and her focus is beautiful. We have been concentrating on urban because I have been hoping to test this spring. We got into the London test, which is this weekend. I am nervous about it, not because I think she isn’t ready, but it is supposed to get really hot this weekend. I think the temperature is supposed to be 30 degrees Celsius on Sunday and there is a risk of thunderstorms.

I am crossing my fingers for good conditions though. This will be our third attempt. I am hoping third time will be the charm. 🙂

Arizona is progressing well. Her focus and work ethic is improving every time we track. I think we need to start making her tracks a bit longer and begin adding in new elements like pavement, so she won’t get too used to the ‘easier’ stuff.

Canyon is still struggling a bit with the concept of tracking, but he is learning. Huib has been handling him for now, as it’s easier for him to help Canyon when necessary. Once he gets the concept, I will take over as his handler. I think he enjoys tracking, especially because he gets to find ‘toys’ along the way, also known as ‘articles.’

Once we get past this weekend, we will move over to field tracking. There aren’t really anymore tests until the fall, so we will have a lot of time to do some field tracking with a bit of urban mixed in.

I really, really hope Rogue passes on Sunday!!

Busy Week

Since doing my 10k race, I have had a week off. It hasn’t been a quiet week though.

On Wednesday, we took the GO Train from Guelph into Toronto. We then took the subway to Dundas and walked over to Ryerson University. We were there for the Canadian Disability Studies Association Conference.

Ryerson is really spread out, so it took a bit for us to find our destination. Once we registered, we walked over to another building for the keynote presentation. I’m not sure if it’s always this way, but there were probably about 70 conference attendees. Maybe I’m just used to attending international conferences, but I found this one quite small.

There was one session after the keynote before we were given a break for lunch. They had coffee, water and juice, along with some muffins after the keynote, but no lunch was provided, so we walked over to Starbucks for a latte.

Rogue was perfectly behaved and worked quite well in the city. She made a few minor mistakes, like walking me too close to some people on the sidewalk, but overall, she did a good job. There were only three other dogs at the conference, so no one really had to worry about the dogs being distracted by one another.

Maybe it’s just the conference focus, but during the first day, I only found one session of interest.

After the final session of the day, we decided to walk back to Union Station from Ryerson, instead of taking the subway. I thought it would give Rogue some exercise and give us a chance to stretch our legs.

On Thursday, we took the train into the city and the subway over to Dundas.

My presentation slot was during a session between 9:30am and 11:00am. All of the talks during the session were about dogs. I think the most interesting presentation was done by a professor from the US. He talked about the increasing media focus on service dogs. He has a service dog from Paws for a Cause. His dog is a young male golden retriever named Ollie. Rogue and Ollie totally ignored one another – Good Dogs!!

I talked to him before our session began. He told me he read my thesis and found it quite interesting. I was honoured. I am hoping to contact him in the future and see if maybe he needs some research assistance.

My presentation was okay, Huib gave me an 80% mark. It could have gone a lot worse!! I relied on my notes a bit too much. I was dealing with a lot of migraines over the week, and Thursday was no exception, so I had to use my notes to rein in my medication fogged brain. I had hoped the fogginess would clear by the time I presented, but it wasn’t quite gone. 🙁

After our session, I selected one on Disability Justice, thinking it would have a criminology focus – I was totally wrong!! It was more of a philosophical debate, which was of no interest. I have never been good at philosophy.

Lunch consisted of some yummy wraps and delicious brownies. There was an annual general meeting for the Association, so that’s why lunch was provided. They had us vote on some changes and elect some new executive positions.

They also announced that next year’s conference will be in Regina, Saskatchewan. I won’t be attending the conference, but the following year is in Vancouver, so maybe I’ll go to that one. 🙂

The sessions in the afternoon were a bit more interesting. I think the best presentation was by a visually impaired woman who talked about her difficulties accessing material from the library. She wrote about feeling as though she didn’t belong in either the country of the blind or the country of the sighted. I guess her vision is such that she has enough to do some things, but then not enough to do others.

I could really relate to a lot of what she talked about, especially when I thought about my experiences earlier in my post-secondary education career, when I had more sight than I do now.

When the conference was over, we walked back to Union and caught a bit earlier train than the day before. We got home around 8:00pm and were all pretty exhausted.

Overall, I think the conference was boring and kind of a waste of time, but I also met a couple of people, so maybe those connections will turn into something – you just never know…

*****

On Friday, Huib and Rogue made their debut in the obedience ring. They earned one leg towards their pre-novice title.

Huib texted me throughout the morning. I stayed home with the others, as we had been away for most of the week and I worried about Canyon, who can have seizures when he’s stressed or the weather is poor. Thankfully, he was fine.

Huib entered Rogue in two obedience runs. The first went okay, but they didn’t pass because Rogue was a little too excited. She pulled a bit on her figure eight and let out a little bark. Then, during the recall portion, she torpedoed Huib, lol!!

Their second run went a lot better and they passed!!

After the obedience runs were over, Huib stayed a bit to watch rally. He is thinking about trying rally with Rogue, but he’ll wait until they finish their pre-novice title.

*****

Thankfully, the weekend was a lot quieter. We did some tracking, but otherwise, we just relaxed.

Adventures in Running: Race Day

I did it. I did my first, and definitely not my last, 10 kilometre race!!

Saturday morning, Rogue, Huib and I travelled to Ottawa. We arrived around noon.

Jess met us outside of her place, so we could go run a few errands. First, we went to the Running Room to grab some clothes and energy gels. I got a black t-shirt and black shorts, while Jess got a purple tank top, purple and black shorts, and some colourful socks. I’m glad Jess convinced me to grab some clothes because when I went to get dressed, I realized that I had forgotten to pack my running pants and jacket, lol!!

After the Running Room, we went to Critter Jungle for some dog stuff. I bought Rogue and Nala each a cool vegetarian treat that was in the shape of a dinosaur. Jess bought Arizona and Canyon a really cool bacon flavoured Nylabone-like wishbone shaped toy for their birthdays (Ari’s was on the 17th and Candy’s is on the 3rd). I suggested she buy it for the two of them to share because it was expensive and they are competitive, so having to share a toy would make it an even cooler one. They love it!!

Nala turned six yesterday, so Jess bought her a ChuckIt! launcher and some tennis balls. She also got her little dogs some cool chews for when her and Nala have to leave them home alone.

Around 6:00pm, we set off for Ottawa City Hall to meet up with our guides. Rogue and Nala hung out with Huib while we were running.

It was really busy, so Huib had Jason hold onto him, while Rogue and Nala guided Jess and I through the crowds. The girls were fabulous!! As it got more congested, Jess gave me her tether to hold, so that we would not lose one another. Nala is longer than Rogue, so even though her and Jess were walking behind us, she was able to walk beside me on the right, so her and Rogue could make room for us to move through the people. I was pretty darn proud of the two of them!!

It took a bit for our guides to find us, but once they did, we gave Huib our girls and then set off for the starting line.

Oh, I forgot to mention, the four of us were all wearing tutus. I wore a royal blue one, Jess had a purple one, my guide had a black one that lit up and Jess’ guide wore a lime green one. My guide also wore a batman t-shirt, so he looked pretty cool!!

When the race began, they had us all start at different times because there were thousands of racers and we all ran different speeds. To make things less crazy, they organized people into different groups based on the estimated time you thought you would take to complete the race. I tend to take about ten minutes per kilometre, so we were near the back of the pack.

Jess and her guide were doing the race to support me, so they stayed behind us. They sang, danced and had me laughing the whole way. I honestly never thought running could be so much fun!!

Jess’ guide had us working at a pretty constant pace that we maintained most of the way. I think we completed the first half of the race in 45 minutes, which would be about nine minutes a kilometre.

Around kilometre six, I began to lose energy, so Jess gave me an espresso gel. It kicked in at about kilometre number eight, allowing me to finish the race with energy to spare.

In the end, we did 10 kilometres in one hour and thirty-two minutes. This is about eight minutes faster than my usual time, so I was pretty excited!!

Thank you Jess, for motivating me to try running and for helping me train.

Thank you Huib, for cheering me on and for helping me with my treadmill workouts.

Thank you D, for the dedication and for being an amazing guide.

Thank you to my race guide, for keeping me safe and entertained.

Finally, thank you Team Tutu!! You guys were the best race partners ever!! I have never laughed so hard.

Now, I need to set a new goal…

Adventures in Running: Another Update

On Monday, D came and we did another seven kilometre route. It was slightly different from the one on Saturday, with less hills.

It took us about 70 minutes.

I am not sure if we’re running or walking any faster, but I think we’re definitely running for longer periods of time. If the weather cools down, I’d really like to try Map My Run, an iPhone app that can measure pace, distance and other things like that. I need cooler temperatures, so that I can wear a coat and my phone will be safe. At the moment, I leave my phone home, so it won’t fall out of my pocket.

I felt less klutzy and a bit lighter on my feet than I did on Saturday.

It was pretty warm, so I was really glad to get into the shower after returning. I totally dislike sweating, lol!!

On Tuesday, Jess asked me to do a short workout that just included 30 minutes of brisk walking with a five minute warm-up and cool down.

I did both the warm-up and cool down at 3.2, and walked 30 minutes at 3.7.

I think it would be nice to get an exercise bike or something, so I can mix up the workouts a bit.

The workout went well. I thought I could forgo keeping a washcloth nearby to wipe sweat, but as I was about to start the final 10 minutes of walking, sweat began to run into my eyes – ICK!! So, I quickly ran to the washroom to grab a washcloth, and then finished the workout.

On Thursday evening, D came and we did a five kilometre route in about 50 minutes. It was our usual one, so we walked the usual warm-up path, down Watt, and up Starwood to Grange. My muscles felt relatively good, so after crossing Grange, we began our first section of running. It went pretty well.

I felt a bit heavy on my feet the first couple of times we ran, but I started feeling more comfortable the third time. About halfway through our walk, it began to spit and steadily got worse, so D and I stood in a bus shelter for 10 minutes while it poured and the wind blew. It was pretty wild weather, that didn’t last long at all.

We then continued on.

We walked a block or so, then began to run. Each time I ran, I felt some muscle tightness in the shin region of both legs, but it quickly resolved itself once we began just walking. I think I am probably walking and running a bit faster, so my legs are feeling it right now.

We probably ran the longest distance when we were going down the Grange hill. It was fun to run down the hill, but also a good opportunity to practice safety because D had to be extra watchful for awkward footing or anything else that might cause me to trip. She did an awesome job!!

As long as she can get off work in time, we are going to get together Tuesday evening before we head to Arizona’s field class.

Adventures in Running: 12 More Days

D is back for a week or so.

On Saturday afternoon, we did a seven kilometre route in about 70 minutes.

Normally, we warm-up before starting to run. This time, I didn’t think about it, so after our second run, my lower calf muscles were hurting.

So, we walked at a brisk speed until I felt better.

Our route was a bit more hilly and the temperature was warmer, so I think it slowed us down a bit.

I was also a bit klutzy at times – poor D!!

Despite all of this, I think the run/brisk walk went well. Maybe I’m imagining things, but I felt as though we ran longer spurts.

This week is supposed to be warmer, so I am hoping we can get out a couple of times. I would much rather run several days outdoors, than even once on the treadmill, lol!!

After showering and getting dressed again, Huib and I went to The Running Room for some clothes. I got a baby blue jacket that has silver reflective, a long-sleeve black shirt and pants that are navy with baby blue on them. I thought about getting something to carry water and snacks, but I am not great at drinking while I walk, so I don’t see myself drinking while I run/walk, lol!!

I also talked to the clerk about finding another guide runner. She took down my contact information and said she would put an ad into their next newsletter – Very Cool!!

Just 12 more days before I do my very first, and probably not my last, 10k race – Scary Stuff!!

Adventures in Running: Just the Treadmill for Now

In 16 days, I will do my first 10k race. I am both excited and nervous.

My guide runner is gone for the summer, so we are working on finding another one. In the meantime, I am working on the treadmill.

The last time D and I were out, we went 5k in about 50-55 minutes. We ran a bit faster and maybe even for longer periods of time. She did say that I sprinted up the big hill that often winds me, so that was pretty cool. When she pointed it out, I told her the hill will be done faster if we go up it quicker, lol!! She will be back in September, so we’ll continue running together then.

In the meantime, I have contacted People and Information Network, which is Guelph’s volunteer organization. My friend, Jason, has also contacted the University of Guelph’s cross country coach, so hopefully between the two of us, we’ll find someone soon.

On the treadmill, my workouts continue to get tougher, but I am also progressing.

I am now running for two minutes at 5.5 miles and walking at 3.7, most of the time. In addition, workouts tend to be 40 minutes or more.

I also bought some new running shoes for the race. They are Saucony brand, and are light teal with black and white. I think they will look pretty good with my black Columbia running pants. Now I just need to buy a shirt and jacket, since the race will be in the evening.

Yesterday’s workout was 80 minutes of hills. Every other five minutes, I had to raise the incline. So, I did: level 1, level 2, level 1, level 3, level 1, level 4, level 1, level 5, and then went down again. I was able to go up to level four without a break, but then took a break after levels four and five. I also had to lower my walking speed to 3.5, from 3.7, to do the full five minutes at levels four and five. I was really hot and sweaty, and sleepy when I finished.

Today, I have to walk for an hour and 40 minutes. It isn’t going to be tough, but it will be boring and hot, so I’ll probably wait until Huib is home to talk to me.

Field Class

Arizona had her first field lesson of the season and it went GREAT!!

We have been working all winter on her ‘hold’ and on ‘delivering to hand,’ but we have not done any work with ducks since the fall.

There were about eight dogs, including Arizona and Canyon, who came to class. There were: 2 flat-coated retrievers, 3 duck tolling retrievers, a lab and our 2 golden retrievers.

Canyon was our muscle. We didn’t know how driven Ari would be to retrieve ducks, so we brought Canyon to encourage her. They are very competitive with one another, so he does a great job of motivating her to cooperate.

Since there were several new dogs, Susie had them all start by retrieving a bumper from a short distance. Arizona was all over this!!

The dogs then had to retrieve a bumper from a farther distance. “No problem!” says Ari.

Finally, Susie got out the ducks and had us all practice with our own dog.

I worked with Arizona, while Huib tossed the duck from a variety of distances. Arizona was freaking awesome!! Other than me fumbling and dropping one duck, she handed every single one to me.

After several tosses, we put Ari into her crate and got out Canyon. With his seizures he cannot do any of the water work, so he loves when we let him play.

Unfortunately, he was a bit of a pain in my butt and instead of handing me the duck, he’d come close, then turn and lie down to start mouthing it – bad boy!! I guess we need to work on this.

If this is any indication of how Arizona will do in field this year…I’m getting pretty excited.

Adventures in Running: Progress

D came around 6:00pm last night, as a break from studying. It had been a day of sun, clouds and sudden downpours, so we had no clue what would happen during our run. Just before 6:00pm it poured, but then quickly cleared up and became sunny, so we were off.

We did a 5 kilometre route. We did our warm-up and then began to run. I felt really heavy on my feet and had some muscle discomfort in my shin region. I had done some stretches before D arrived, but it really didn’t seem to make a difference. Thankfully, the discomfort went away shortly after our second section of running.

Even though I stretch and we always warm-up, I wonder if I need to start doing a short pre-warm-up session on the treadmill as well… I did it once before and the run seemed to go really well, so maybe I should try to do this more regularly…

I think Jason might be right and I just need more time to warm-up.

After the second run, I began to feel lighter on my feet. Our first two runs were surprisingly good distance-wise, but I definitely began to feel better by the third. We walked up each hill (Guelph is a really hilly city), but we ran down one of the smaller hills.

In total, we ran about 200 metres, six different times. This is a really big increase for me!!

I felt really good after the run.

I am worried about the upcoming 10 kilometre race, but it is not for another month and a half.

So for now, I will take Dory’s advice and, “keep on swimming.”

Adventures in Running: Better

I have been training for 110 days.

I am still not a fan of running on the treadmill, but it is getting easier to run outdoors.

I haven’t been great about writing things down, so I am just going to talk about what I’ve been up to workout-wise the past couple of weeks.

After my week of not-so-good workouts, things began to improve.

I was pretty busy marking and preparing for the International Working dog Conference, so I only got a couple of workouts in before we left.

Tuesday afternoon, I did a run with D. I hadn’t done anything in a few days, so I did a bit of a pre-workout. I started with some stretching and then I walked on the treadmill for 10 minutes. I hoped the extra effort would improve our outing – it did!! We did our 4.1 kilometre route in 40 minutes. We ran about 120 to 150 metres five or six different times along the route. I felt a lot better than I had been. I felt lighter and did not seem to be heel-striking when I ran.

After the run, I talked to my friend Jason over iMessage about the improvement. I told him about the pre-workout stuff I did and he said it might be possible that I need a longer warm-up. I mentioned ;this to Jess and she agrees, so we’ll increase the warm-up portion of my workouts.

On Wednesday, I did a tough treadmill workout. Jess asked me to increase both my warm-up and cool downs to five minutes. She then gave me my assignment: one minute run, four minute walk, two minute run, three minute walk, three minute run, two minute walk, two minute run, three minute walk, one minute run and four minute walk. I warmed up at 3.1, ran at 4.5, walked at 3.5 and cooled down at 3.0 miles.

I did the warm-up, one minute run, four minute walk, two minute run, three minute walk and 3 minute run before I needed to take a 30 second breather. I then did the two minute walk and two minute run before taking another 30 seconds. Finally, I did the three minute walk, one minute run, four minute walk and then only did a three minute cool down. I didn’t do the full five minute cool down because I had a visitor coming in an hour and I needed time to shower and dress.

Even though I had to take breaks, I still felt my workout went a lot better than past ones.

While we were in Calgary and Banff, Huib and I did a lot of walking. Huib is a pretty fast walker, so I didn’t need to worry about finding a gym. I didn’t get any running in, but I don’t think my fitness level suffered.

Around 3:50pm today, D texted to see if I had time for a run. I was just drinking the last of an extra large coffee, so I said “sure,” but asked if we could get together in an hour. I wanted to give the coffee some time to vacate, lol!

D arrived around 4:40. We did our usual 4.1 kilometre route. We walked from my place, down Watt, left on Starwood up to Grange, crossed over and then began to run. We ran about five different times along the route. D felt we ran further than usual, doing at least 150 metres each time. We aren’t the greatest at measuring distances, so other than our full route, the rest of the measurements are kind of estimates. I was worried about the coffee making me feel sluggish, but I felt surprisingly light on my feet.

If it hadn’t been for the wind, I think we might have been able to run more. When we ran into the wind, I felt as though I couldn’t really breathe effectively. I honestly thought I might need to consider bringing my inhaler next time. It has been years since I actually needed to use it, but the wind really made me feel kind of nervous. Maybe if my nose hadn’t been as stuffy from the cold, breathing would have been a bit easier.

Other than the breathing problems, I didn’t feel any discomfort, so I guess my left hip muscle issue is gone – yay!!

I really think I’ve made a lot of progress since starting this adventure on December 19th.

Working Dog Conference: Presentation Day

We skipped breakfast and part of the morning, so I could focus on my presentation and so Rogue could rest more.

When I ran through my talk with Huib before we left the hotel, I was at 25 minutes with a lot of pauses to find my spot. As long as my nerves didn’t get in the way, I thought this time would decrease by at least five minutes when the time came to present.

Most of the talks before lunch were a bit more technical than I’d like, but the final one was pretty interesting. The presenter was talking about the work they have been doing on finding an effective way of decontaminating dogs after they have been exposed to some sort of chemical hazard.

Lunch was kind of boring. The curry flavoured vegetable soup was good, but the salad was a bit annoying to eat because the lettuce was really thin and difficult to get on the fork.

After we finished eating, Huib ran Rogue outside and I went back to my seat to read my notes again. When they returned, we went on to the stage, so Huib could show me the podium and show me what direction to look.

The presentations after lunch were probably some of the more interesting ones at the conference. There were a couple on service dog breeding programs, then a couple on service dog activities. For example, Colleen talked about research she’s doing with a program here in Ontario that is working with veterans and emergency responders.

I would like to do research with an organization someday. For now, I’ll just keep working on trying to get my name known.

At the break, I ran to the washroom and then got a drink before returning to our seats to run through my presentation a final time with Huib – I was now down to 20 minutes!!

I was the second talk after the break.

When I was introduced, Huib walked up to the podium with Rogue and I. He then went to sit at a table nearby, so he could easily control my powerpoint. We bought a remote for my laptop, so Huib can sit in the audience and control the powerpoint without anyone really noticing.

I had a bit of trouble getting Rogue to settle, but she finally did and I began.

I started to get nervous about a minute in, but I was talking about myself at the time, so told myself to stop worrying. I know who I am, so I didn’t understand why I was so nervous. The self-talk seemed to help because by the time I had finished introducing myself, the butterflies were gone.

I think my presentation lasted about 15 minutes or so. The committee person didn’t ring the bell to tell me I had five minutes left, so I assume I wasn’t close to 20 minutes. I also asked Huib to send me a text when I got to five minutes.

Rogue stood up and tried to lie back down in a different spot, but I forgot to change where her leash attaches to the harness. As a result, she barely had enough room to lie down – Whoopsie!!

Huib suggests we buy her a mat and teach her to lie on it. He thinks it is probably strange for her to be at the front of the room with people staring at her, so he thinks the mat work might help her settle. I agree. We’ll do it this week, so I can teach her to use it by the end of May when I have another presentation.

I think this presentation was the best I’ve done so far!!

I had to remind myself where I was heading twice, but otherwise, I remembered the whole thing. I also really tried not to just present the information, but talked about it.

When I sat down, a couple people came over to congratulate me and to exchange contact information. I really hope some of the connections I made will turn into something in the future.

There were a couple more talks after mine. When everyone was finished, we all got ready to go up Sulphur Mountain. The gondola was only a 10 minute walk from Rim Rock, so Huib and I chose to walk.

While we were waiting in line a few people congratulated me on a good presentation. I also got some comments and questions about Rogue. A lot of people like her harness and enjoy watching us work together. I guess our bond is really noticeable to others 🙂

When we got to the front of the line, we climbed into the cable car and prepared to go up. The ride was smooth and very pretty. I wasn’t sure how Rogue would like being in something that she could see out of on all sides, especially since we were really high up, but of course, she could have cared less.

This little fox red lab is amazing!!

At the top, we got out of the cable car and went to look around. It was a bit too windy to be outside for too long, especially since I forgot to bring Rogue’s jacket, so we did it in stages. Huib said the view was pretty cool. We got several pictures of Rogue and i, and one of Huib, Rogue and I.

I am not sure if it was the fresh air, but Rogue was pretty excited!!

After we had seen everything outdoors, we went up to the bar to grab a drink. I had a Pepsi and Huib had a beer. We sat with one of the people from the Service Dog Committee and then a few speakers. Dr. Reynolds had talked about sled dog nutrition earlier in the day, so I was excited to be able to talk to him a little more about his research.

At 7:45pm we all had to get ready to go back down the mountain. While waiting for our turn, I got to talk to one of the Pen Vet people. She really likes Rogue’s harness because it allows her to move freely. She also complimented me on my talk and said she really likes how fit Rogue is. While we were waiting, Rogue began doing her nose bumps, or ‘look,’ hoping I would give her a treat. I used her desire for treats to extend her ‘look’ more – we are now up to six seconds!! Some people asked why she was bumping me, so I explained that it is her way of giving me eye contact since I cannot see her.

On the ride down, Huib and I were alone with Rogue. Huib got a couple cute pictures of Rogue looking out the windows at the view.

When we got back, we walked to Rim Rock to catch the bus. Since we had not yet had dinner, we walked over to Subway and got falafel subs. I wonder why Ontario locations don’t have that option…

I was pretty nervous about presenting at this conference, but I’m really glad I did it!!