Tracking in the Rain

This rainy morning, we tracked with Laura and a new person named Sarah, who has a four month old, male German Shepherd.

Loch, the GSD puppy, just started tracking, so Laura laid three different short tracks for him to practice with. He is really cute and gets distracted pretty easily. I thought his distraction issues kind of reminded me of our little golden girl, lol!!

After Loch finished his first track, Huib got Canyon ready. Laura laid a relatively basic track for him, but also added in some longer grass. Canyon totally over-shot his first corner, but did an okay job otherwise. It might be that his hormones are beginning to stir, with Arizona approaching day 10 on Monday of her heat cycle, but Canyon was kind of all over the place. Maybe next time he’ll be less frantic.

*** From about day 10 to day 16 of Arizona’s heat cycle, Canyon tends to become really whiny and excessively clingy. Thankfully, our friends are taking him for the week. ***

Next was Arizona. Laura was surprised at how little her heat cycle affects her behaviour. Arizona was far from perfect, but she definitely wasn’t any more distracted than usual. She missed a couple corners, but eventually found them. A couple of times, she stopped to scratch or relieve herself – I think this is when she does her thinking, lol!! Overall, I think Ari did a pretty good job.

Oh, Arizona found a pretty cool object in the middle of the soccer field near her track – a big black and white training bumper!! It is similar to the ones we have, but a lot bigger, so it’ll be great for field.

Finally, it was Rogue’s turn. Laura laid a mainly hard surface track with lots of aborted transitions. She over shot one corner, but worked her way back to it. She found and indicated all of the articles, even the one that was in the middle of a deep puddle. Rogue thought about casually indicating the one in the puddle, but I asked her to show it to me again, so she did a better indication.

I think the online retrieve class we took through the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy with Deb Jones and Judy Keller really helped Rogue with her article indications. More often than not, she is actually picking up the article to at least toss at us. I think I will do some more work with the class lectures and see if maybe I can even get her to carry the articles over to me.

I honestly can’t think of any real issues we had today. She worked surprisingly well in the rain – GOOD GIRL!!!

I think it’s time to do some tracking during the week on our own, instead of just working on the weekends. We usually start more regular tracking in September, but maybe the goldens will progress faster with more regular work.

Sorry for the boring blog posts. We really don’t do a lot each week. It’s a pretty routine life here.

Good Weekend

This weekend was a busy and exciting one for us.

On Friday, Arizona started her heat cycle. Canyon really doesn’t care, so for now they are free together, but not outside unless Huib or Dad are with them. On the 24th or so, Canyon will start getting whiny and clingy, so we’re hoping our friends will be able to take him for a week. It’s easier on him and less work for us when he’s elsewhere during the more fertile period of Arizona’s cycle.

We are in the process of doing her health clearances, so she can hopefully be bred in March when she is in heat again. We had an OFA thyroid panel done in May and all came back normal. This month Paw Print Genetics has a 50% off sale, so we’re going to order the general golden retriever panel, which covers all of the common issues goldens can get. I am also hoping to take her in to have her eyes checked. Once those are all done, we just have her heart, elbows and hips to do, which we’ll have done in October or November. There is a debate about whether the heat cycle affects hip and elbow scores, so we’ll wait a few months just to make sure it isn’t a factor. In the meantime, Huib and I have to think of a kennel name and apply to have it registered. It takes about four months for that to happen, so we really have to get a move on it.

*****

On Saturday, Huib and Rogue went to an obedience trial in London. They had a really good outing. Rogue earned two more legs to finish off her pre-novice obedience (PCD) title. Huib reported that in their first run, he forgot to keep his hands at his sides, but everything else was great!! The second run took place a couple hours later and it had been a really long day, so Rogue was tired. She did an awesome job in all exercises, but did not want to sit during the halts. This was not a huge deal, but it’s something we’ll have to work on.

Here’s a picture of Rogue with her purple and white rosette.

I am SO proud of them!!

*****

On Sunday afternoon, Huib and I went to the Westend Rec Centre to swim. The first 20-30 minutes was spent on leg movements. Huib walked along beside me while I held onto the kick board and just focused on the scissor kick. Once I felt comfortable, I started putting my face in the water and tried to work on breathing. During the last half hour, we put the board away and I swam. I worked on swimming with my face in the water. I need to practice turning my face to breathe instead of lifting my head, so I do not stop moving whenever I go to breathe, but otherwise I was doing quite well.

On Thursday, Huib timed me and it took me a minute and 12 seconds to swim 25 metres. On Sunday, I was swimming 25 metres in 45 seconds!!! Huib said he was having trouble staying ahead of me, lol!!

Stay tuned for more swimming updates…

Sunday evening, Huib and I got together with Laura to track. I want to enter Rogue in a US tracking test in the fall, so we introduced ‘scent articles.’ Laura laid a regular Canadian urban track, while Huib laid two small tracks with the scent articles.

We started with the two short tracks. I used the same verbal cues that I give for tracking, and Rogue was perfect!! It will be interesting to see how she does on longer tracks, but I don’t really see her having a big issue. Rogue really seems to know what she is doing when I put her tracking gear on and give her the cues.

Once Rogue finished her American-style tracks, Huib did a track with Canyon and then one with Arizona.

Canyon did well. Huib says he searches a bit wide, but appears to know his job. I look forward to working with him.

Arizona had a bit of a tough track. While we were waiting for them to age a bit, a guy had his dog running around, creating cross tracks for her. Overall, I thought she did really good job. She almost missed one article, but did the rest of the track quite well. I think her distracted days are almost behind us.

We finished off with a longer track for Rogue. Before we started, there was a dog running all over hers, eating some of the food drops, so that created some confusion at times, but she worked through it. She overshot one turn by probably 30 feet or so, but she figured it out and worked her way back to the turn without any direction from us – Good Girl!! Other than those minor things, Rogue tracked like a pro. I love working with this girl!!

I am really looking forward to the fall when the dogs will have a chance to try for their respective tracking titles. No matter what the outcome of the tests, we’re all guaranteed to have a good time.

Ottawa

This weekend Huib and I headed to Ottawa with Rogue, Canyon and Arizona. Cessna doesn’t like long car trips, so she stayed home with Dad. I think she enjoys her park trips and Tim Hortons’ drive-thru adventures.

Our friend Jess is moving to Victoria, so we wanted to go spend time with her before she goes. Her parents are helping her pack up her apartment, so we stayed with our friend Jason. He has a nice apartment in a really cool area.

The traffic was busy at times, so we didn’t arrive in the city until about 6:00pm. Once the dogs were settled and our bags were out of the car, Jason made us dinner. The rest of the evening was spent chatting, which was quite relaxing.

On Saturday, Jess had a going-away party. I enjoyed meeting her co-workers, friends and the triathlon guides that I had not yet met. The food was also pretty good. 😉 With our three dogs, there were eight dogs in attendance. Jess had her three and then her two friends had their dogs as well. Other than some minor growling when Arizona got too close to a little dog that wasn’t Jess’, the dogs all got along well.

After most of the party attendees left, we went into the living room to enjoy some music. Jason and Peter, Jess’ friend, both played the guitar, while Jess and some others sang along. I think the best part of the whole night was when Jess’ Dad suggested we make up a song – it was hilarious!! I am not very good about making things up on the spot, so my verse wasn’t great, but we all laughed anyway.

On Sunday, Jason went to help Jess’ parents move her stuff out, while she worked. We went to track with our friend, Michelle.

Huib and Michelle laid the tracks, while I hung out with the dogs. Huib laid tracks for Cameron and Canyon, while Michelle laid one for Rogue and Arizona.

Canyon is really coming along with his tracking. Huib thinks that by the end of August, I should be able to take over as his handler. He laid three separate tracks for him, so that they could work on different things within each. Before Canyon got a chance to run them, two different dogs went all over them, so I’m sure most of the treats were missing. Despite the added cross-tracks, he did a really good job!! Huib put a squeaky tennis ball in the glove on the final track, so Canyon could have an exciting reward when he finished.

Similar to last week, Arizona did a nice job. She laid in the shade at a couple of spots, but otherwise I don’t think she ran into any major issues. Ari doesn’t really like the heat, so I think we need to start bringing water on the tracks, instead of just giving it to them at the car.

Rogue hasn’t done a long track in a while, so Michelle laid an awesome one for her. There were three articles and a number of different turns. I didn’t have to help her at all, but I did have to encourage her to keep going near the end. I really should have brought water for her, but I didn’t think she’d need it – Bad Handler!! The first leg or two were in really soggy grass, so Rogue had to work with wet paws, something she hates. We also tracked beside a ditch and then between two culverts. I was VERY proud of my little girl!!

Once everyone finished their track, Michelle did a little drill with Rogue and I. She showed me how to teach Rogue to move in more of a straight line, especially after finding an article. The track always goes straight after an article, so it’s good to reinforce this point with the dogs. I am going to work on this because I find Rogue sometimes porters (goes back and forth over the track) a bit more than I’d like.

After tracking, we said goodbye to Jason and Jess’ parents before heading home. The traffic was really busy in spots, so I’m glad we didn’t end up staying for dinner.

When we got back, Cessna was REALLY excited to see us. I was a bit worried about her because she was limping. Huib thinks it might just be that Dad took her for too many walks while we were away. Her back left leg seems to be the problem. Huib was able to move her leg without her saying anything, so we’ll see how it is on Tuesday. Cessna takes medication for incontinence that conflicts with many anti-inflammatories, so I will need to talk to Bianca if the limp persists. Even if she feels better tomorrow, I will make her relax. She will be sad not to have a walk, but I want her physically healthy before she goes out again.

We had a really good weekend, but I am sure glad to be home.

Tracking Update

This morning we did some tracking at the University of Guelph with Laura and Sandy before it got too warm and humid.

Canyon did quite well. He really seems to be getting the idea of tracking. The only real issue he had was when he saw an article and decided to skip the corner and just go get it, lol!! This is a problem for all dogs, so I’m really not sure how to solve it, other than to make sure the article is better hidden.

Rogue’s tracks were all on hard surface. Laura set up a start drill for her. Rogue had four different tracks where she had to figure out the direction to go from the scent pad. This drill is meant to teach the dogs that tracks won’t always go straight ahead. Rogue did really well. She took a bit of time to decide on a direction for a couple of tracks, but she always figured it out and indicated the articles perfectly!! I really love working with this girl!!

Arizona was really good. She has been struggling to focus lately, but this phase may be passing. Laura gave her a tough track, with parts of it on newer grass and the final leg being on hard surface. Ari got a bit distracted by smells in the taller grass and decided to lay in a puddle, but otherwise she did everything well.

Until next class…

This Week’s Update

This week has been a bit busier. I am still not doing a lot of walking, and definitely no running, but we have managed to stay pretty busy.

On Sunday, we met up with Laura and Sandy for tracking at the University of Guelph. We haven’t done any tracking since Rogue’s test on the 12th, so the dogs were eager to get back to it.

We started out with Canyon. Huib has been handling him for the past couple of months because he is able to help him along the way. I think the golden boy is finally beginning to understand the point of the exercise. Huib said he did quite well for his level of difficulty – Good boy!!

Arizona was up next. For some reason she is struggling a bit with her focus. Huib has been her handler from day one. He said she seemed to know when she was out of scent, but she stopped a few times and just looked around. It’s like she needs time to think, lol!!

After Stewart (Sandy’s dog) went, it was Rogue’s turn. She was REVVED!!! I am still hurting a bit, so Laura just laid her tracks on hard surface. We had three different short ones. Our focus was on aborted transitions. I want to teach Rogue that her track will not always go from hard to soft or vice versa. I need her to realize that sometimes we will go towards the other surface (pavement to grass, grass to pavement, etc.) and turn before it.

Rogue did a really good job!! On the third track she insisted the track should go onto the grass, but she figured it out after a minute – Good Girl!! I think it really confused her that we never went onto the grass once, so when she got to the middle of the third track, she thought it must go there.

**********

On Tuesday, we had field class. Since Arizona and Shelby got their WCs on Thursday, we were in charge of bringing treats for the class. Huib asked his former co-worker to make us some field themed cookies – they were freaking awesome!! She made ducks, hunting rifles, duck calls, camouflage hats, orange vests with camouflage t-shirts underneath, gingerbread hunters, and some retrievers. She offers three different flavours, we asked for salted caramel – YUM!!!

This week Susie set up the water and land retrieves like we’ll see at a hunt test. In addition to the dogs needing to go further, they also had duck calls and one gunner was hidden.

Arizona did her first water retrieve really well. She barely hesitated before jumping into the pond. as she swam to the duck, Huib said she looked over at the decoys, but didn’t seem to care about them. When she reached the duck, I blew my whistle and she began to swim back. I repeated my whistle and continued to encourage her from time-to-time. Ari has been really good about not shore-running, so I am really trying to make sure she never starts.

Her second retrieve went a bit rough. It took a lot of convincing to get her into the pond, and then the gunner had to toss another duck because she lost sight of the first. Huib thinks her issue was mainly due to the fact she couldn’t see Laura (the second gunner), and also because there was a fallen branch at the edge of the pond. Once she finally got into the water and was tossed another duck, she swam right to it and brought it back to me.

Susie wants me to work on having her come to the front of me and hand the duck to me, instead of making me find her. Arizona is really good about doing this at home, usually coming and sitting in front of me and not releasing the item until I ask for it, but for some reason, she always seems to walk past me, so I have to search for her head. I am also going to ask her to have the gunners hide for a bit, so Ari will learn that this is something that could happen.

Both of Arizona’s land retrieves went perfectly. It might be because neither gunner was hidden, but you just never know with her.

**********

On Monday and Thursday evening, Huib and I went to the pool at the Westend Recreation Centre. Our local one doesn’t reopen until today, so we thought we’d try out that one. We did the 9:00pm to 10:00pm lane swim.

On Tuesday, we did five laps. The pool is 25 metres, so each lap was 50, meaning we did a total of 250 metres. We also did a minute of treading water.

My arms were SO tired by the end!!

On Thursday, we did seven and a half laps, which equals 375 metres!!!

I need to work on straightening out my body when I swim, so my back won’t hurt from the poor swimming posture. Huib says I look like I am doing the doggy paddle, lol!!

How embarrassing!!

I took swimming lessons when I was younger, so I remember some of the basics. I need to get comfortable having my face in the water, so my feet will rise and maybe then my arms won’t get as tired either.

Stay tuned…

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!!

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…

More Water

This week’s field class involved some more water work.

We started the evening in one of Susie’s shallower ponds. Arizona wasn’t too sure about getting in, but with some extra encouragement, she did it!! She swam right to the duck, came straight back and held it firmly until I said “give.”

The second attempt went better, only a slight hesitation – GOOD GIRL!!!

When Ari was done, we took her back to the car because the mosquitoes were pretty bad. We forgot to put repellent on her and us. Huib found the dogs’ herbal mosquito and tick repellent in the field gear bag, but ours was missing, so we decided to try out theirs. It works surprisingly well, and doesn’t smell bad either. I think we’ll keep using it for now.

*****

With Canyon’s seizures, we have to be really careful about the stuff we put on him, as well as what we use around him, so we try to use herbal stuff when possible. There are tick preventatives for dogs, but all of them have been found to have pretty nasty side effects for dogs with seizures, so we have chosen to avoid using them with everyone. Instead, they get Revolution monthly (prevents heartworm, fleas, some ticks and some other parasites), and we have them tested each spring for heartworm and tick-borne diseases, such as lyme.

*****

After all of the dogs – 5 labs and 2 goldens (including Ari) – had their turn, we packed up the gear and moved over to a deeper pond.

Arizona had more trouble with this one. It took a lot of encouragement to get her to jump in, but again, once she was in, she was perfect!!

Her second attempt was a little worse. It might have just been because she had to go to the washroom, but when I sent her, she went to the edge of the pond, walked around a bit, then walked away and relieved herself closer to the trees. When she finished, I called her back, got her set up, and sent her for the duck. She barely hesitated before jumping in.

I am hoping that as we introduce different ponds, she’ll continue to feel more comfortable.

But, like everything else we do, we aren’t in a rush, so she can take her time getting used to things.

Biking

Last fall, Huib bought a bike, and then several months ago, he got an attachment for the dogs. A few weeks ago, he got the bike out and started teaching the dogs to run alongside him.

The first couple times he took them out, it was slightly warm, so he did not take Canyon out as long as the girls. With his seizures, Canyon runs the risk of heat stroke, even when the temperature is just over 20 degrees celsius.

Of the three, Arizona loves it the most. Huib usually goes about four kilometres with her. He says nothing seems to distract her, that no matter what they pass, she just continues going straight ahead. I think she loves the speed.

Canyon only tends to go about 1.5 kilometres. Unlike Arizona, Canyon thinks he needs to pull the bike, so Huib is finding it more difficult to adjust speeds with him. As they work together, he’s getting better, so hopefully he’ll stop being a pain soon.

Rogue usually goes for two kilometres or so. The first few times they were out, she kept pulling further away from the bike. I think she thought it was going to eat her, lol!! The last time they were out, Huib said she did a lot better, so I think he’ll probably start going further with her as well.

Guelph is a very hilly city, so poor Huib is pretty tired once he’s taken the three dogs out. They all seem to really like it though, so I think he’s going to try and get them out at least a few times a week.

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.