Weather, Ice and Puppy News

It was a good week. Despite the cold temperatures, and unstable weather causing migraines, I got in most of my runs.

On Monday evening, Huib and i went to Victoria Road for their 9pm fitness swim. It wasn’t too busy, but Huib and I both felt slow and blah, so we took it easy. I got in 850 metres and did it in a relatively good amount of time.

Tuesday, M and I got together at 4:30pm at the bus terminal. The sidewalks downtown were not very well cleared, so we took our time walking over to the trail. At the trail, we ran into a bit of snow an dice problems, so we took it easy, running just 30 seconds at a time. About halfway through our route, we saw a number of runners wearing Yak Tracks, so I decided to try mine out. They worked well. I felt more comfortable running on the trail, even when we hit snow and ice.

Unfortunately, running with the Yak Tracks created some muscle discomfort. Not only did my left ankle hurt where I originally injured it, but my calf muscles and my right ankle in the same spot were uncomfortable. As a result, I am hoping to avoid using them again. My calves and right ankle felt better after 24-hours, but it took my left ankle a full week to improve. 🙁

On Wednesday, D and I did our usual 5.2 kilometre route. We want to try and keep track of our pace and where we improve, so I turned on MapMyRun as soon as we got onto the trail.

Sadly, the first 1.5 to 2 kilometres of the trail were covered in chunks of ice and snow, so we had to walk it. We did have a chance to run on the last 3k, so we did it three times. According to the app, we worked at a pace of 10 minutes per kilometre, which isn’t totally accurate with all of the walking we were forced to do, but it’s still an improvement from last year, when I was actually running at that pace on a regular basis.

To get a better measurement, D and I will start turning the app on when we can start running, and then turn it off when we stop.

I am planning to register for the 5k race at Around the Bay in late-March. D, my guide runner from before, has agreed to do the race with me. 🙂

We did not have obedience class on Thursday evening, so Arizona and I worked on things at home. She is really improving.

The temperatures began to rise on Tuesday, and went up to about 5 degrees on Thursday, creating a lot of thawing. Thursday evening, the temperatures started to fall, to the point where stuff began to re-freeze.

Friday, the temperature was about -10 when D and I got together downtown for our run. It was the first time Rogue joined us.

Walking to the bus stop by our house, poor Rogue was being careful, but the sidewalks were covered in smooth, clear, extremely slippery ice. About a metre from our driveway, we both fell on our butts, lol!!! Once we got up, she was even more cautious, as we made our way to the stop.

D met us downtown. The sidewalks were not much better, but we were hopeful, so carefully walked to the trail. The trail was covered in ice!!! We tried to be optimistic, so made our way down the trail, hoping to find a good clear spot to work on, but our hopes were dashed!!!

Jess recommends we cancel our runs when there is ice, as it can be really unsafe, especially since ice is quite difficult to see at times.

**********

On Friday evening, Kelly came with Piper, Ace and Juno. We didn’t do much on Saturday. She went to see friends, while Ace and Juno stayed with me. Juno was quiet and spent most of the time relaxing.

On Sunday, Kelly and I took Arizona, Piper and Juno to an obedience and rally fun match. Huib couldn’t come along, so I was looking forward to seeing how well Ari worked. She was GREAT!!!

We did two modified novice runs. Ari and I still need to work on off-leash heeling, automatic sits and stand-for-exam, so we did not do these parts. Instead, we did heeling on-lead and an off-leash sit-for-exam.

Arizona’s stays are pretty reliable, so during our first run, we did the one minute sit-stay, but I only had her do a two minute down-stay. She broke her down-stay as I went around her, but the person judging, said it was not Ari’s fault, so we put her back in a down and then walked back around, before I released her. During the second run, I had her do the one minute sit-stay, then for the down-stay, I had her do two minutes with me far away, then the final minute with me beside her. I felt she could do the full three minutes, but I didn’t want to push her, so told her she was doing well, but asked her to continue in a down, which she totally did – GOOD GIRL!!!

For the figure eights, we did the smaller one with halts at two different spots. To try and get rid of the lagging she tends to do, I used a treat to ‘drive’ her around the right side post, which seemed to get her moving quicker around the left. I think I’ll continue doing this a bit longer, then start phasing the reward.

Finally, we also did the longer distance recall. She did a good job. We need to work on a ‘front,’ but she came the second I called.

The person judging us, said she gave me good focus and attention throughout our run. I think I might need to find a new trial buddy, since she seems to work better when Huib is not around.

**********

On the breeding front.

Our kennel name was approved by the Canadian Kennel Club. We are officially known as REBELFIRE.

Or, REBELFIRE GOLDENS

Arizona has an appointment next week with a local reproductive vet, and then we’ll just wait to see when she comes in season. If she follows her usual schedule, she should be in heat during the first week of March.

Huib and I are both excited and nervous about our upcoming journey, but we’ve got some great mentors.

Stay tuned for more breeding updates.

Wrapping Up 2017: My Turn

Sorry for the delay.

2017 was a really good year for me.

Just before Christmas of 2016, our friend Jess asked if I wanted to try working out. I said “sure,” and that began my running and swimming adventures.

In April, Huib, Rogue and I went to Alberta for a week. We stayed in Calgary for a few days, then moved on to Banff, where I presented at the International Working Dog Conference. I met a lot of people and seemed to garner a lot of interest in service dog policies, so hopefully it’ll go somewhere in the future.

Between January and the end of May, I worked out three to four times a week. I lost weight, gained more energy and on May 28th, I ran my first 10 kilometre race. I didn’t run the entire time, but finished the race in an hour and forty minutes, which I personally think was amazing!!!

At the end of May, I presented at the Canadian Disability Studies Conference in Toronto. I met some other people doing research related to dogs, but no one seemed too interested in the political side of the topic.

Unfortunately, on June 12th, I fractured my ankle, so had to put running on hold while I recovered.

I have never been a real swimmer, but I worried about losing my fitness and gaining back weight, so on June 24th, I decided to go to the pool.

From June 24th until the end of November, I went to the pool at least two days a week. I went from not wanting to put my head in the water, and being nervous about deep water, to swimming 1000 metres in 50 minutes.

Over the past month, I have not been swimming, but I plan to return soon.

In early September, D returned from her summer job, and we got back to running. It was slow progress, but by mid-December we were running for 50 minutes at a time, about 14 times along our five kilometre route. Sadly, D finished school and has moved, so I am in the process of finding another guide runner.

Over the past year, I have lost weight and gained muscle. I feel good and have begun to really enjoy running and swimming. I still don’t like running on the treadmill, but do enjoy running outdoors.

MY GOALS:

This year, I want to continue running and swimming.

On the running front, I would like to be able to run an entire five kilometre race this spring or summer. And, if we can figure out the logistics, I would like to do a half marathon in the fall – maybe in Victoria? 🙂

On the swimming front, I would like to work on my technique and endurance. I would like to get to a point where I do not need to stop at each end, but continually swim my laps. I’m not sure where I want to go with swimming, but for now, I’d like to use it as a way to stay healthy and fit for running.

As for a health goal? I would like to be under 200 pounds.

I am hoping to get into some sort of routine, where I am swimming twice a week, running at least twice a week and maybe going to the gym once in a while. I think the bike and elliptical might help me with my leg muscles, as well as with strengthening my ankle itself.

I feel quite good, but from time-to-time, I still have some discomfort. It isn’t major, but it’s there, so I listen.

I think tweaking my diet might help with the weight loss and fitness goals, so one thing I am going to try and do, is limit the sugary cereals I consume. I’m not sure what else I’ll modify, but I think breakfast is a good place to start.

On the education front. I plan to apply to McMaster University again for their PhD in Health Studies. I’m hoping third time will be the charm. 😉

For all of us at ruled by paws, 2017 has been GREAT!!!

We can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store.

Here is a picture of Canyon and Arizona getting into the New Year’s spirit. Canyon is wearing a blue party hat, while Arizona wears a pink one.

Wrapping Up 2017: Rogue, Canyon & Cessna

Now, onto the other three canines in the ruled by paws crew.

ROGUE
On the service dog front. Rogue has been an amazing little worker. In early April, we went to Banff for a conference. I presented at the International Working Dog Conference, and Rogue was an perfect example of a well-behaved owner-trained dog. I was a bit worried about taking her to Alberta, given their expectation that all service dogs be trained by an organization, but I shouldn’t have worried – we had ABSOLUTELY no issues. I even had a few store clerks compliment me on my little professional.

Our summer was a bit quiet, with me injuring my ankle and being unable to do much walking. Despite the time off, when we went to Victoria in late-November, Rogue was again stellar!!! She was a complete professional, at both the airport and throughout the city itself. Even though it rained a lot, Rogue worked flawlessly. I was a little concerned about the service dog laws in British Columbia, where teams are expected to be ‘certified,’ but I again should not have worried. We did not run into any problems.

In tracking, we progressed in many ways, but title-wise, we were unsuccessful. I entered Rogue in two tests this year. One was in London, in June, while the other was in October. At both tests we ran into problems on the first leg. I was a bit embarrassed by our performance at the October test, where the conditions were beautiful, but Rogue felt we MUST follow a cross-track. In spite of this, I felt we came out of the test with things to work on, so it was definitely worth attending.

Finally, on the obedience front. Huib and Rogue made their obedience debut in late-June, earning her pre-novice (PCD) title in mid-July.

I was SO proud of them!!!

MY GOALS FOR ROGUE
I would like to enter her into both UTD and TDX tests this spring or fall, depending on our schedule. I would absolutely love her to earn at least her UTD in 2018.

Huib hopes to continue with their obedience training, maybe entering a novice test in the fall or winter. Their biggest challenge will be finding the time and motivation to train together.

I love working and training with Rogue, so maybe we’ll see if there’s another performance venue she might enjoy and excel in.

CANYON
Poor Canyon has sort of been neglected this year. He attends field classes with Arizona from time-to-time, but we haven’t done any real competing in anything since before Ari was with us.

He started tracking training in the spring, and seems to really enjoy it. He can be a bit frantic at times, wanting badly to please us, so we’re teaching him to slow down and focus on the task. He seemed close to being ready to enter a test, but we decided to give him another year to train.

Canyon’s seizures seemed better this year. He has had seven, but he went an entire six months without, so we were quite excited about that. We will continue to follow the zero carb diet started in March, and hopefully his seizures will remain absent for longer periods.

MY GOALS FOR CANYON
I would really like to continue his tracking training, and maybe have him attempt to earn his TD in the fall.

I would also like to see if there is another performance venue that might interest him, as I feel like he could go further than he has so far.

CESSNA
Our little old lady turned 14 on October 30th. She continues to enjoy short walks with Dad and appears to be interested in what everyone in the house is up to. Her hearing is somewhat gone, but we really can’t tell how much or how little she can hear, as she also enjoys ignoring us, lol!!! Cessna’s vision also seems more limited, so we’ve started leaving lights on overnight, and have put a carpet on the stairs leading into the living room, so she can see/feel the stairs coming. In addition, her incontinence has gotten a bit worse, so she is almost on a full dose of her medication twice a day.

Unfortunately, she appears to have moderate to severe arthritis. She can walk okay, but does stumble on uneven terrain and sometimes finds it tough to jump onto or off of the couch. Added to this, she has a very large lump that has been slowly growing under/sort of behind her left front arm. The vet and us have left it alone, worried it will become a real issue if we disturb it, but I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll need to do something by the summer. It has taken two years or so, for it to get to this point, so maybe we can wait some more.

My poor old girl…

I really don’t have any goals for Cessna, other than to have her continue to live a good quality life. If I need to, I will begin pain medication, but for now, she seems okay with just her golden paste (turmeric) and other supplements.

Tomorrow, I will share my own accomplishments and personal goals for 2018.

Vacation Time

We had an awesome vacation!!! It was not only a lot of fun, but also quite relaxing.

On the 18th, we flew directly to Victoria, arriving around 10:30pm. We had no issues at either airport, Pearson or Victoria, with absolutely no questions about Rogue. I was a bit worried about how things would go, with her being owner-trained, but she was on her best behaviour and no one said a thing. The plane was pretty cramped. We were on one of Air Canada’s Rouge flights, and will definitely not be doing it again. The seating is cramped, with very little foot space, but Rogue was amazing!!! She only lifted her head on take off, and then sat up during landing.

On Sunday, Jess had training, so Huib and I took Rogue and Hermione, Jess’ Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, for a 10 kilometre walk. About a minute from Jess’ door-step, is a trail where you can walk dogs off-leash. The girls had a blast!!!

Most of the trail is smooth, with the odd tree route and then some narrow spots near the halfway point. Along the walk, we heard a bear roar in the distance, saw huge maple leaves, greeted many people and their dogs, and also checked out trees covered in moss and others that were missing some of their trunk from erosion. Rogue had fun running ahead and even checked out Elk Lake. By the end of the walk, both girls needed to be rinsed off.

In the afternoon, Jess had to go to the pool, so we joined her. There was a public lane swim, as well as lane swims for training. There are about three or four different sized pools at the recreation centre. The pool we were working in was split in half, similar to how Victoria Road’s pool is most of the time.

We only ended up swimming 625 or 675 metres (I kind of lost track). The water is a lot colder and it’s all deep, so Huib had some shin soreness. To help him out, I counted to 20 before setting off. It was nice to swim, even after the 10 k walk.

In the evening, Jess made a really yummy dinner. She invited her roommate, triathlon guide and one of her teammates, who we know, to come for dinner. We had some good laughs and conversation.

On Monday, Jess had training in the morning, so we hung around the house because it was also raining a lot. In the afternoon, after Jess finished her second bit of training, we went for a 3 k walk with her, Nala (her guide dog), Hermione and Rogue. Rogue and Nala had fun checking out different streams and ones along our walk, while Hermione did a lot of sniffing. The hike took us up some steep hills with lots of tree roots and the odd fallen tree to climb over. Jess does this walk with her girls, using her cane when Nala isn’t working. I trust Rogue, but I don’t think I trust myself or her enough to do this hike on my own.

On Wednesday, we took Hermione and Rogue for a hike and then walked a bit on the roads around Jess’ place. I got to see what a palm tree looks like, which was cool because I didn’t know they had furry trunks.

In the afternoon, we went downtown to have lunch and do some souvenir shopping. We took the bus, then went to a restaurant called John’s. I had a really good sweet potato ravioli, Huib had a seafood soup and Jess had a gigantic omelet with fruit and hash browns on the side. Afterwards, we went into several different stores, including one called Sitka, which is a camping supply place. I wanted to check out Sitka, because that is the name of one of Ari’s half sisters, lol!!

In the evening, we had pasta for dinner and relaxed.

On Thursday, Huib rented a car, so we could go over to the mainland for the day. The ferry takes about an hour and forty minutes, so we stood on the deck watching all the different islands go by. Huib saw some seals bobbing in the distance, but could not get a good picture.

We went to Delta and Ladner first. In Delta, we went to Urban Bee and got some blueberry honey. It has sort of a liquorice after-taste. We also drove past BC Guide Dogs. If I had more time, I would have tried to get a tour, but there wasn’t a lot of time to contact their director to set up something.

In Ladner, I bought some cute cards at a thrift store, and some treats at a bakery. We also got some Dutch cookies and salted liquorice (for Huib) at a fancy grocery store.

One store we checked out was a outdoor activities place. They had hunting stuff, fishing gear and camping equipment. I could have bought a crow call – but, who wants to call crows???

Next, we drove to Vancouver. We had dinner at a Cuban restaurant with Dad’s daughter. It has been about 27 years since I last saw her, so I thought it was going to be awkward. It wasn’t!!! We talked about ourselves and a lot about Dad. I am hoping she will come to visit Dad in the near future, but it all depends on her work situation and on her son’s school and soccer schedule.

On Friday, Jess had gym training in the morning, but the entire afternoon off, so we picked her and Nala up around 11:30am. We drove to Nanaimo. Huib had looked at some of the island tourist sites, and saw that there was a neat trail.

The drive is about an hour and forty minutes. The scenery is beautiful. Sadly, it was raining most of the time, so we couldn’t really stop to see things. It also gets dark by about four, so we wanted to get to the trail in time.

When we arrived in Nanaimo it was still raining, so Huib suggested we do a bit of souvenir shopping. There seems to be a big focus on Haida crafts and designs when you look at souvenirs in BC, and the stuff in Nanaimo was no different. We got a really nice metal Haida orca tree decoration for me, along with other gifts for friends and family.

It took Huib a while to find the Cable Bay Trail, so we didn’t arrive until about 3:45pm. We put raincoats on the girls before we went shopping and kept them on during the walk. Since the sky was darkening, we kept all three dogs on leash while we walked. According to the website, it was supposed to take about two hours to do the entire trail – it only took us an hour total. We walked down to the water in half an hour, giving us enough time to see things. Huib saw some seals about 20 feet from shore and then a sea lion. Jess and I thought it was cool to hear them so close. It took us about 30 minutes to get back to the car, even though the trek was mostly uphill. I attached Rogue’s leash to her back ring, so she could help me out when needed, lol!!!

I must give Nala credit here. She guided Jess perfectly along the trail, even along spots where it was pretty rooty and rough.

In the evening, we did a mini Christmas dinner with chicken instead of turkey, and all of the regular sides. We also had cinnamon buns for dessert – YUM!!! Jess gave me my birthday present, a big purple mug with a Haida dragonfly design on it, and salt and pepper shakers with the same design, but they are white. I had looked at them when we were downtown, so she picked them up without me noticing. It’s part of the fun when shopping with a visually impaired or blind person, lol!!!

Oh, on the topic of gifts, Jess gave us our Christmas presents earlier in the week. She wasn’t sure how much we could take back with us, and knew we both liked wearing pyjama pants, so got us each a pair. Huib’s are fleece with chain saws on them, and mine are tan flannel with polar bears wearing red scarves (I think). They are both really cute!!!

On Sunday, our flight to Vancouver left around 12:05pm, so we left Jess at 10, took the car back to the rental place and headed over to the airport. We were on a 50-person plane, one of Air Canada’s Jazz line planes. We were only in the air for about 13 minutes, but the plane was pretty spacious – MUCH better than the Rouge one.

In Vancouver, we ran to the washroom and then headed over to the next gate to board. Our flight was scheduled to leave just after one, but there was an issue with the plane, so they switched planes and we took off around 1:45pm.

The plane was newer. It was comfortable and the flight itself was smooth, even landing was good.

Even though it rained almost every day, and my migraines were a bit annoying, the trip was really good. We enjoyed ourselves a lot, and hope to return next year.

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.

*********

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.

**********

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.

*********

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.

**********

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.

**********

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.

**********

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.

**********

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.

**********

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.

**********

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.

**********

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.

**********

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.