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.

Meet the Breeds

Meet the Breeds at the Oakville & District Kennel Club show was a success.

Despite having an issue with where our booth was located, we had 26 breeds take part and have fun.

On Saturday, we had to be at the International Centre by 8:00am – YAWN!!! Huib and I donated a prize for the golden retriever winner of Best of Breed, so that’s why we had to be there so early.

When we arrived, we parked beside a van with several carriers holding cats. Arizona was freaking riveted!!!

If she had a conversational bubble above her head, I think it would have said something like: “This is fr-eaking AWESOME!!! We are going to a CAT PARTY!!!” LOL!!

Poor Ari did not get her wish. Instead of going to a cat party, we went to a dog gathering, lol!!

It took us a bit to find our club members, who then directed us to where Meet the Breeds would set up. While I waited in the booth space, Huib ran out to the car to begin bringing stuff inside. Before he returned, I had a woman come over to tell me our booth was actually supposed to be on the other side of the hallway, so our club president and I moved stuff over. You would think that would be the end of the discussion, but it was not to be. After we had set everything up, a guy came over to tell us to move our booth to another spot across the hall – OMG!!!

I guess this was the real spot, as we weren’t asked to move again – thank goodness.

To give some of the smaller or less dog-social breeds some space from others, we put a divider up for one section of the booth. In that part, I set up our grooming table, so some of the smaller breeds could sit or lie on it while greeting the public.

Each hour, we had three different breeds come to help out at the booth. I think it ran pretty smoothly.

We brought the goldens out whenever the booth was quiet, such as when a group had to leave before the hour was up. They seemed to enjoy the public attention, and didn’t mind hanging out together in their double-sized canvas crate. Rogue spent a lot of time walking around the booth with me, while I greeted the different volunteers and their dogs. When I paid attention to the dogs, she quietly stood behind or beside me, until I was ready to move on.

I think she was a terrific owner-trained service dog ambassador and demonstration of a great working lab.

I took the time to meet each dog and talk to their human about the breed and the work some of their dogs do. I learned a lot about the structure and purpose of different breeds, as well as the differences between some of the more similar breeds, like the English Setter versus the Irish Setter.

By the end of the day, our crew was pretty tired, so all of us had a good night’s sleep.

On Sunday, we didn’t have to go to the show as early because our booth was already set up.

When we arrived at 9:45am, we noticed that our smaller section was gone. Someone had not only taken away the divider, but also removed the curtains and extra railing that creates a booth. I was a bit worried how some of the smaller breeds would do with the bigger dogs, but overall I think it went okay.

I had a few complaints about lack of space to move around in the booth, but they were pretty rare.

Nothing really different took place from the day before, except that we had a few breeds change. Some volunteers from Saturday were unable to attend Sunday, so their spots were filled by people who could not attend Saturday.

One of the bulldog owners also has one of the newer sporting breeds, so about 30 minutes into her spot, she exchanged dogs. The Lagotto Romagnolo is a small, sturdy dog with a curly, wooly, a sort of poodle-feeling coat.

Unlike on Saturday, we had a few more quiet times, so the goldens got to greet more people. Usually, people seem to be drawn to Canyon, but this weekend, a lot more people asked us about Arizona. We even handed out a couple of my business cards to people interested in a possible puppy.

By 4:00pm, I was glad to be done and we were all ready to head home.

I really think the public likes having an opportunity to touch and ask about the different breeds. I also think the owners like talking about their dogs. Maybe every show should have a booth like this, so that more people will want to attend a dog show.

Field, Field, and More Field

Lots of field adventures.

On Sunday, Huib and I took Arizona, Rogue and Canyon to Susie’s to get some extra water and land work in.

Canyon cannot go swimming, as he gets hotspots. Also, with his seizures, it’s just safer to not swim. Therefore, I used Rogue for competitive motivation.

We started out by attaching Arizona to a tree, while Huib tossed bumpers into the pond for Rogue. My little red lab isn’t a big swimmer, so she wore her life jacket and had a blast running around. She is not very good about bringing the bumper right back to us, but she at least brought it part way onto the shore.

While Rogue was running in and out of the pond, Arizona barked and whined. We tossed three bumpers for Rogue, before we had the girls switch places.

Arizona did a beautiful job of marking, retrieving the bumper and then bringing it to me. I really don’t understand why she doesn’t show us this same enthusiasm at field class.

While Ari was doing her retrieves, Rogue barked and whined and moaned and groaned. For a dog who doesn’t enjoy being wet, she sure wanted to get back to the water in a hurry!!!

As Ari was about to go for her fourth bumper, Rogue escaped the leash and began running around like a goofball!!

Huib got her, put a carabeaner on her life jacket, and reattached her to the leash. She had pulled so hard, that the ring came off the back of her jacket.

Once Rogue was secured to the tree, we got back to retrieves. Huib had us setup in different spots around the pond, while he tossed the bumper from different distances. Arizona did a fabulous job!!!

Once Ari gave me her eighth bumper, we switched the girls. Rogue was pretty excited, so it took a few seconds for her to sit and pay attention to what I wanted. She sort of retrieved and brought back the first bumper, but then she ran around the pond like a wild dog, dropping the bumper in the weeds on her way around, so we let Ari off the leash to help us out.

She ran right over to the bumper and brought it over to Huib to toss again – GOOD GIRL!!!

Next, we did some land work with Canyon as the motivator.

We put Rogue in the car and tied Arizona to a tree to watch.

Canyon is a HUGE fan of retrieving ducks. He sat beside me, marked the spot and then went for the bird when I released him. On his way back, he stopped a foot in front of me, and laid down to check out ‘his’ duck a bit better – BAD BOY!!!

I got the duck back and set him up for another retrieve. I really need to work on having him hand the bird to me, as he enjoys ‘checking’ it out.

After retrieving three ducks, he went into the car and it was Arizona’s turn.

We have noticed an issue with her not running far enough, so Huib wanted to practice tossing the duck behind him. The first bird was tossed in front of him. When I released her, she went straight to the bird and brought it to me.

Huib tossed the second duck just past where he was standing, so she needed to run past him. Ari had trouble. She doesn’t realize she needs to run past the gunner sometimes.

Huib also noticed that she had some trouble with ducks who did not go high in the air. Luckily, this problem isn’t a big deal because it’s not something she really needs to understand.

Overall, I think our independent training session went well. Rogue was good entertainment and Canyon was his usual steady self, but Arizona was quite good, especially in the water.

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On Tuesday, we had our regular field class. I had to go to Georgina Island to get my status card renewed, so we also dropped in to see my Aunt Dawn for lunch. As a result, we were late getting to class. Fortunately, no one else had come, so Susie and Laura were just chatting when we arrived.

Unfortunately, it was close to 7:20pm, so we weren’t able to get a lot of work in. After explaining the work we did over the weekend, Susie suggested we do some land work.

The first bumper tossed was an easy one, so Arizona quickly got it and brought it back to me. The next one was thrown by Susie, who is one of Ari’s favourite people, so she got pretty distracted. As a result, she forgot where the bumper had landed, so Huib had to go out and direct her to pick it up.

Susie didn’t want to reward her for the poor results, so she had us all walk to a different spot in the field and set up again.

Arizona did a good job on two of the three retrieves, but struggled with the one that she had to run past the gunner to find. Whenever she can’t figure something out, she runs back to us, so Huib usually meets her halfway and they go find it together. Laura worries that Ari is beginning to think she’ll always have Huib to help her, so doesn’t see the reason why she needs to work through the problem on her own. I’m sort of with Laura, Ari is highly intelligent, so why put in the effort if you can do it easier with help? The issue we face is figuring out how to stop the behaviour, while also having her trust that we will be there when she really needs us. I also don’t know how we’re going to convince her to keep working, when she just returns to me and sits until she’s directed to do something.

Arizona is sure keeping us on our toes.

The last three retrieves were so-so. The first one was pretty good, but the last two were both okay and not-so-okay.

Arizona is really good about letting us know when she’s tired and when she no longer wants to do something. No matter what we’re doing, if she’s tired, she gets very uncooperative.

We had had a really long day, without much of an opportunity for her to nap, so it’s sort of not surprising that she didn’t want to retrieve eight bumpers.

When I released her to go for the seventh, she just laid down in front of me, lol!! Huib had to run out to the bumper with her, where she then proceeded to pick it up and run back to me – sort of good girl.

The final bumper was retrieved similarly. The only difference was that she also took a break in the middle of the field, lol!!

I really shouldn’t laugh about her being so lazy, but sometimes you can’t avoid laughing or you’ll just end up crying.

Arizona can be so frustrating and entertaining at the same time.

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On Wednesday, we joined a field training group. We’ve met some of the people at tracking group, so it was neat to see them in a different setting.

Susie and Laura wanted to do a drill with Arizona to teach her that the duck will not always be thrown in front of the gunner. They ended up doing the same drill with all of the other dogs in the group.

Arizona did well with the bumpers that were tossed in spots that she is used to, but she struggled with the ones that went past the gunner. I really hope she figures this problem out before the 16th.

She also got tired of retrieving bumpers after the fourth. I think she might have also been a bit warm, but she still needs to learn not to give up.

Susie says she lacks drive. This is something you really can’t teach her to have, so we’re just going to have to teach her how to get past it. I think we need to find a way of making the work extremely rewarding to her. She is starting to push further in tracking, so maybe it’s just something she’ll figure out with time in field.

We could use an e-collar or train a force fetch, but we don’t want to do this. Both Huib and I don’t feel it’s that important to us, to feel as though we need to resort to non-positive training methods or tools.

When it came to water time, Arizona hesitated some, but she wasn’t as horrible as she can be.

There are some handling things I need to work on, so I won’t be touching her more than needed, but most of the work we need to do before the 16th surrounds water.

Arizona has really improved this year, compared to last, so even if we don’t end up earning her JH this fall, I know it’ll happen next year. She is no longer refusing to pick up any sort of duck and she’s always handing the bird to me, so we just need to work beyond the water and minor land retrieve issues.

Please keep your fingers and toes crossed for us. Just over a week before she begins to try for her JH (junior hunter).

Quiet Week

It has been a pretty quiet week. A nice break before we start our jam-packed September.

On Monday, we went to Victoria Road for their 9pm swim. I felt sluggish and sort of non-floaty. It didn’t seem to impact my speed though, as I swam 500 m in 29 minutes, and then did another 200 m in 14.

I think I need to stop drinking XL coffees before I go swimming. I always seem to feel heavy afterwards, even though I make sure I have it an hour or so before.

My 10 year old navy blue Roots bathing suit has been officially laid to rest in our garbage bin. 😉

It has been looking a bit tired, with the elastic disintegrating, but I thought it would last a bit longer. When I wore it, Huib noticed some balling and a bit of separating of materials, so it’s gone. 🙁

On Sunday, Huib, Rogue and I went to the Cambridge Centre to shop for a new bathing suit. The Bay had a sale on their Roots and Speedo suits, so I was hoping to find one I liked. The Sears in the mall is one of the closing locations, so a lot of their stuff is on sale. Huib and I decided to look there first, just in case we could find something cheap.

We didn’t find any bathing suits, but we did buy some blank cards with beagle puppies on them. Huib also bought me a sterling silver ring that has intertwining hearts on it. I am not a huge jewellery person, but I like it!! I only tend to wear my wedding ring and some diamond studs, so it will take a bit of time to get used to the second ring. I also used to wear a necklace with my engagement charm and promise ring on it, but my last one broke, so I haven’t had a chance to replace the necklace.

At The Bay, we found several bathing suits that interested me. After trying a few on, we settled on two. One was a navy blue Roots one and the other was a black Speedo with teal straps.

Even though the Speedo was in the same size as the Roots one, it was on the tight side. 🙁 From talking to a friend who buys a lot of bathing suits, I learned that Speedos tend to be sized smaller, so it’s really not uncommon to need a larger size than usual. She said that it’s a good brand for swimming in pools because it will last better in the chlorine.

After talking to the store clerk, we learned that we could order the Speedo in a larger size, so I ordered it. It should arrive some time next week.

While I wait for my new Speedo to be delivered, I will wear my teal Roots one. It is also close to 10 years old, but not quite as old as my navy one. The elastic is disintegrating a bit, but it will be okay as a back-up until I get a new one to replace it.

On Wednesday, we tried to wake up for the 6:30am swim. When I went to let the dogs out and then returned, Huib had rolled over and returned to snoring, lol!! I think we’re going to give up on the early morning swim times, as we really don’t seem to ever make it, and then I have trouble going back to sleep.

We went to the 9pm swim. I felt less sluggish, but still did not feel as though I swam as smoothly. I guess I was wrong though, as I did 500 m in 28 minutes!!! That’s a whole minute faster than my best time so far!!! I then did another 200 m in 14 minutes.

For now, we are just keeping track of the first 500 m. Once I can swim 500 m in 20 minutes, then I will add to the distance we track.

Huib says one day when it isn’t as busy at the pool, I should try swimming 1000 m. He feels I can do it easily, if I slow down a bit.

My nose plug snapped, so I had to purchase a new one. I got a wire one this time, as my plastic one did not last very long. Huib also bought some goggles, so the chlorine won’t bother his eyes so much. It will be easier for him to watch me, while he swims on his stomach. So far, he’s been sticking to his back, so that he can watch me, but that position really tires out his legs and arms.

We tried to go swimming last night, but the Westend pool is under renovations until October. Huib didn’t notice any posters announcing the closure when we were there last week, so we were surprised. It means I will have to do the 50 m swims at Victoria Road on Thursdays for now.

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Tuesday’s field class was pretty good. We started out with land retrieves.

Arizona’s first retrieve went well, but then she had some difficulty with the second. The duck was down in a bit of a valley, so when she ran out, she went a bit short and then couldn’t figure it out, so ran back towards me. Huib met her halfway, and helped her figure out where the duck was located. I think the next time this happens, she will not have as much of a problem finding the bird. Huib says that in addition to the bird being down in a bit of a valley, it was also up wind, so she didn’t catch the scent. I think her tracking work will help her overcome the scent issue. It will just take some time and experience.

She did well on her final land retrieve.

Over to the water…

Arizona did not want to go into the pond at first, so taking a bit of a gamble, Huib picked her up and tossed her in. He had to do it twice, but it worked. She swam over to the decoys and thought about grabbing one, so I quickly told her to “leave it,” and she continued onto the bird.

I say, “he took a bit of a gamble,” because Arizona can be sensitive about some things, so you never know how she’s going to react. If things had gone wrong, she could have ended up refusing to enter the water completely, and gotten nervous around us.

Ari’s second retrieve went well. she barely hesitated, before jumping in to get the duck.

I worked really hard on not touching her neck to find her mouth. Arizona did a great job of handing the bird right to me. We will continue to work on this at home.

In order to get in some extra training before our three junior hunt tests, we’re taking Ari to work at Susie’s over the weekend. She won’t be available to work with us, but I’m hoping the extra swimming time will make things less worrisome for her. I think I may also bring Rogue along to provide some competitive pressure. Even though my little red lab doesn’t enjoy swimming, she will do it with her life jacket on.

On Wednesday, we’re also going to join another field group. It will be interesting to see who trains with Susie at other times of the week. I am also thinking it will be good for Arizona to work around some other dogs and people, but who knows, maybe she already knows everyone. 😉

Back in August, we signed up for two courses through the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Sadly, we haven’t had a lot of time to work on the courses. One of the courses is a gun dog one that focuses on water training. I thought I would read through the lectures and forums, to see if maybe there were some suggestions on how to work past a dog’s lack of confidence in the water.

I didn’t see any solutions for our particular problem, but I did read about some things to train that might help.

First, the instructor says everyone should teach a “go swim” cue. I guess it can be used to stop dogs from going to the shore to soon, and can also be used to get them jumping in. I’m just not sure how to incorporate the cue into our current release cue, so it won’t be a problem at tests. I’m thinking you can probably not say: “Go Swim… Fetch!!” I would assume that to be not allowed, but maybe I’m wrong. I wonder if it will be enough to just say, “Arizona, Fetch!!,” in an excited voice…

I guess we can try it out on Sunday.

The other thing I read about, was teaching hazards. Training dogs to be comfortable walking on, jumping over, sitting on, etc., all surfaces and stuff. So, I’m wondering if this might be our answer.

I am thinking we might have neglected to train her to be comfortable walking, running, jumping or sitting on enough surfaces, textures or objects… I think we just assumed she’d be okay because she appears extremely brave and curious.

We have a bit of time to try and catch-up her hazard training. Maybe it’s time to make a list of the things she should work around before the 16th.

Just over 14 days before Ari tries to earn the first two legs towards her JH.

An Assortment of Things

A quick apology before I begin, but this post is going to be a bit random.

On Wednesday evening, Huib and I went to Victoria Road’s 9pm fitness swim. We have been trying to go to the morning ones, but on Monday Huib was too sleepy, and then on Tuesday my migraine got in the way. With the unstable weather this month, my migraines have been pretty constant. 🙁

I wasn’t sure how long I’d b able to swim, as I still had a migraine, but I really felt it was important to do something.

I swam 500 metres in 29 minutes!!! That is the fastest I have swam so far!! I then swam another 100 metres before getting out of the pool.

If I keep improving as quick as I have been, who knows what goals I’ll be able to achieve next year.

*****

As of Monday, it has been ten weeks since my ankle injury. With the continued discomfort, we’re pretty sure it was fractured. To ensure no long-term problems, I have scheduled an appointment with our family doctor on the 7th, so we can talk about a possible x-ray.

Laura said it took about 18 weeks for her fractured ankle to feel completely normal, so maybe it will take me a similar amount of time. Sadly, I’m beginning to think I will not be able to do a 5 kilometre run with Jason on Halloween.

Who would have thought I’d actually be sad about not running….? LOL!!!

I will keep everyone posted on my recovery.

*****

Even though I will not be returning to McMaster this year, I applied for teaching assistant positions in the fall and winter terms. I really enjoy teaching and marking, so I hope I am given at least one of the many classes available. Even one term would be nice.

*****

Yesterday, we took Rogue and Arizona to see Dr. Whelan. He’s a doggie-ophthalmologist. I have been taking my dogs to see him since 2011, when I learned that Cessna has tiny cataracts in both of her eyes and Canyon has scarring on his retinas.

Rogue’s eyes are good. He says nothing has changed since she saw him two years ago.

It is always a great relief to hear your guide dog can see, lol!!!

Arizona is also good. She has been cleared of any inheritable eye conditions – YAY!!!

Dr. Whelan did find a fine linear cataract on her right eye, but he said it is not inheritable and he does not suspect it will progress. I asked him what could have caused it and he said “the cells stopped growing and died.” I asked him if it’s just that “shit happens,” and he agreed.

I was really worried that this would mean no future Arizona puppies, but Anne seems happy with the report – YAY!!!

Our next hurdle is the genetic testing. The Paw Print Genetics kit should be arriving soon.

*****

To try and promote further healing of my ankle, I’m taking it easy today and over the weekend as well. I think I might have over-done it last week, as I didn’t feel as much discomfort the week before. I just get so bored sitting around, and we have lots of training to do, if we want to enter field and tracking tests this fall.

Conformation

Now that Canyon is eight years old, we don’t do a lot of conformation. There are a lot more goldens coming out to the CKC run events, so it isn’t really worth entering him, since he’s older and still a lot smaller than most males. Arizona is not really a showy golden, so she also isn’t worth entering into a CKC run show.

This past weekend was the Grand River Kennel Club’s United Kennel Club show. It featured conformation and rally obedience events. Arizona tends to do okay at these shows, so we decided to enter her both days.

On Saturday, she only took part in the morning show. We considered doing the afternoon one as well, but she likes her naps and becomes very uncooperative when she’s tired, so we decided to only do the one show.

There were six breeds represented in the gun dog group: Standard Poodle, American Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, German Shorthaired Pointer, Weimaraner and Golden Retriever. There were about five standard poodles and two German shorthairs, but only one of each of the other breeds.

Arizona has not done any conformation since last summer, so we weren’t sure how she’d perform. She was GREAT!!!

The judge, Mr. Gregory Storms, said Arizona was very cute. He awarded her a group fourth!!!

The poodle was first, the cocker spaniel was second and the weimaraner was third.

On Sunday, our friend Kelly entered her two Australian Shepherds, so we put Arizona into both shows.

There were two more breeds represented in the gun dog group: a Labrador Retriever and an Irish Red and White Setter.

Even though Arizona did a fabulous job in both shows, she did not earn a group placement. Our friend watched her in the ring and said she has great movement and structure. She said it looks as though Arizona is very light on her feet.

I think all of the dogs in the group had great structure and movement, so it was a tough decision for the judges to make. The dogs who weren’t as good did not get any placement, even once, during the weekend, so we’re pretty happy with the show outcome.

Arizona now has two competition wins, so she just needs one more to finish her UKC conformation title. Depending on our schedule, I think we’re going to try and enter another show in November.

Mid-Week Update

It’s been a good week so far.

On Monday evening, Huib and I went to Victoria Road for the 9:00pm swim. I felt as though I was swimming on the slower side, but I actually wasn’t. We did 600 metres in 45 minutes!!! This is five minutes faster than I’ve been doing so far.

Tuesday was a much busier day.

In the afternoon, I had a two hour meting at City Hall. I am part of their accessibility advisory committee. We meet every two months to discuss accessibility-related topics from around the city. It was a pretty dry meeting. Some can get a bit controversial, with lots of discussion and debate, but this one was quite tame.

At 6:30pm, Arizona had field class. The weather was not too warm, so we brought Canyon along. When we arrived, no one else was really there yet, so we played a bit of fetch with the goldens, to cut down on their energy.

First, we worked on making sure the dogs entered the water straight ahead of where we sent them and then returned to us. This exercise was done to teach the dogs that they cannot run along the shore in order to find a clear path, they must bust through the weeds to get directly into and out of the water from the spot they are sent. Arizona will sometimes run to a clearer spot before jumping into the water, but she is really good about swimming directly back to me. Some of the other dogs had to be pushed back into the pond when they wanted to get out early.

Next, we went to a pond that has a rocky shore. Susie wanted the dogs to practice setting up and returning to an uneven surface. She had a wooden skid for people to stand on, so I thought I would be safe enough with my ankle, but Ari did not feel secure. I think she worried about getting a paw caught between the boards, so Huib took her onto the rocks to set up. I whistled and called her back, but he did the actual handling. She wasn’t so sure about getting into the water, but once she was in, she swam right to the duck and brought it to Huib. I think she needs more practice in different ponds and on different surfaces.

There was a bit of daylight left, so we did some land retrieves as well. Arizona set up nicely, but when I said “fetch,” she didn’t move, lol!! I had to release her a few times before she went. She retrieved the duck and dropped it just as I was taking it. I tried to get her to take it back and hold it until I asked her to “give,” but she really didn’t want to cooperate. In her defence, the duck was pretty gross!! It was wet and smooshy!! Arizona had the same hesitation when I released her for the second duck.

I was sort of confused about her difficulties on land. Normally her land retrieves are flawless, but Susie is thinking she was unsure of the forest surrounding us. I think other dogs had a similar issue, so maybe she is right. I wonder if this is something we’d actually run into at a test, or if it’s just something to challenge them while training…

This morning, Huib and I woke up at 5:30am to go to the 6:30am swim at Victoria Road. Huib is finding it difficult to get to sleep after our evening swims, so he wants to try out the earlier morning time. I am a bit unsure I like the early wake up, but we’ll see what happens.

Our swim went well. This seems to be a busier time, so we had two other swimmers to watch out for, but they were patient. Huib didn’t get to do a lot of swimming, he spent a lot of his time blocking me from going into the path of other swimmers. I cannot swim in a straight line. I do a lot of zig-zagging, so it can be hard for Huib to keep me out of the way.

I finished my 600 metres in 42 minutes, so I decided to try for another 100. In total, I did 700 metres in 48 minutes – a HUGE improvement from when I started on June 24th!!

This evening, Huib’s work has a staff appreciation picnic thing. If the temperature isn’t too warm, I think I’ll bring Rogue and the two goldens. We tried to buy camping chairs last night at Walmart, but they only had really uncomfortable, expensive ones. Huib went to Canadian Tire this afternoon and found a fun love seat, so I think Rogue is going to be a happy little lab.

Before I sign off, I’ll tell you all about last night’s trip to Walmart. I won’t bore you with the play-by-play of shopping, but I will tell you about the “service dog” we saw. I put ‘service dog’ in quotes because I’m really not sure if it was or wasn’t. We were going to the checkout and heard some growling. Huib looked over and saw a little terrier mix of some sort, wearing a nondescript service dog vest. The woman apologized for her dog’s behaviour, which is great, but what I wasn’t too happy about was the excuse, “my dog normally doesn’t do this.” I’m not saying the person was lying, but I wonder if it’s true. Maybe it is, but maybe it’s more that your dog doesn’t normally see other dogs in public places and you avoid meeting other dogs outside of stores. I am sure some little dogs are great service dogs, but so far the ones I’ve seen are making me wonder how many of them are getting enough training around other dogs, especially larger ones. Rogue is not a big dog, but little dogs still seem intimidated.

While this “little terror,” as Huib nicknamed it, was growling at Rogue, she stood quietly beside me. I knew she noticed it though, because she tried to tell me we should leave, lol!! I guess she thought it would be safer to leave, rather than to wait for our turn to pay, while the dog was still near. Thankfully, the dog and it’s owner left shortly after we got in line. Huib also made sure to keep us a good distance away.

In closing, I really don’t care if people bring their pet dogs into public places, I just expect all dogs, even service dogs, to show some manners. As I said before, I’m not accusing this person of not really having a disability, but from the behaviour of the dog, I think it needs more training before coming back into public.

Fun in the Sun

We had a great Sunday!!

At 9:30am, we met Laura, Sandy, Kay/John, and Sarah at the University of Guelph for tracking. Kay and John got a new lab puppy named Trigs, so Sarah’s 4-month old GSD, Loch and Trigs did several short learner tracks.

Laura laid a simple track for Canyon that required him to go over a crushed stone path. He was really excited, so did a lot of back and forth along the track. Laura and I walked along behind him, so she mentioned that we might want to start doing a warm-up track, like we used to do with Rogue. Canyon found his corners pretty well, even a 90 degree one. About 30 feet from the end, there was a deflated soccer ball that he just had to have. It took Huib a bit to convince him to continue onto the end while he held the ball for him, but he finished off well. Laura took the deflated soccer ball and said she will use it as his end article for now, since balls seem to be a really high reward.

I’m not sure if he’ll be ready to do a tracking test in the fall, but he seems to be getting the idea, so who knows what the next couple of months will look like.

Arizona’s track was a bit more difficult. I don’t remember there being many issues that Laura pointed out to me. Huib tried to relieve her before the track, but she decided it would be better to just go along it, lol!! Ari is getting better at indicating she has run out of scent and Huib is getting better at reading her. When she found her first article, instead of stopping, she just quickly pawed it, and tried to continue on, lol!!

I think she might be ready to try for her TD this year. I just hope we can find a test where Laura is not judging.

Laura laid a mini UTD track for Rogue. She was pretty stoked to be out working. She over-shot a couple corners, but figured out when she was out of scent and worked her way back without any direction from us. I don’t think she missed any articles and she had some difficult spots along her track, but worked them out perfectly!!

I don’t know what will happen, but maybe this fall will be when she earns her UTD title. I think I will enter both the tests in Guelph and Whitby.

Soon, I think the dogs will be ready to get back into the fields. With my ankle injury, we haven’t wanted to do any field tracking. I am now eight weeks post-injury, so I should be ready soon to get back to hardcore training.

******

At 11:00am, our friend Heather and her border terrier, Harley, came to watch the dogs track. Once we were done, we came back to our place to grab some lunch.

It was pretty warm out, so Heather, Huib and I decided to take Harley, Rogue and Arizona swimming at the old Guelph Penitentiary.

Sadly, it looks like the City is about to sell off the property because they have closed off access. We were still able to go in though. We just had to park the cars on the road and then walk in, rather than parking near the old buildings.

I wanted Arizona to do some work before the girls played. Huib went over to the other side of the pond and I set Arizona up. He initially tossed a large black and white bumper for her to retrieve. He wanted to make sure she was going to go into the pond before he tossed in a duck. She did not hesitate at all. She just leaped into the pond and swam right over to the bumper. Once she returned out to me, Huib got ready to toss in a duck. We did three duck retrieves before we unclipped Rogue and Harley from their leashes.

Rogue is not a big fan of swimming. I don’t think it’s that she completely hates it, I just think she gets nervous when she cannot touch the ground. We have life jackets for everyone, so we got one out for Rogue to wear – she had a blast!! I don’t know how many times Huib tossed the bumper in for the girls to retrieve, but most times it was Arizona who got there first and brought it back. Huib held Arizona back a few times, so Rogue could swim out and bring the bumper back without Ari stealing it as she returned. Arizona is a much faster swimmer than Rogue, but I still think our little lab had a good time. I would love her to become a fan of swimming.

Poor Canyon stayed home because he gets hot spots from swimming, and because of his seizures. It is safer for him not to be swimming, even if he wears a life jacket.

When we got home from swimming, Rogue and Arizona fell asleep. We didn’t really hear from the dogs all evening. Even though Canyon didn’t come swimming, I think he was still pretty tired out from tracking and then waiting for us to return from the swim.