Adventures in Running: OUCH!!!

On Monday, I got together with my new guide runner. C has never guided before, so I thought we should go for a walk around my neighbourhood. I wanted to show her what I needed to know and how best to warn me when obstacles were coming up.

While walking, we also got to know one another. C is really into running. She is training to run a marathon in October. Another really cool thing about her, is that she has a golden retriever. 😉

About halfway through our walk, we had a bit of an accident. C was doing a really good job of taking me around rough spots on the sidewalk and she seemed to be getting the idea of guiding. But, then there was a branch leaning over the sidewalk, so she moved me over to the left to get around it. We sadly moved over too far, and my left foot went sideways off the edge of the sidewalk – OUCH!!

At first, I thought I was going to have to call Huib to come pick us up. We stood for a couple of minutes, so I could assess the damage. I have a really high pain tolerance, so I really didn’t think it was too bad. So, we walked the rest of the way home.

I feel so bad for C. She was trying really hard to be careful. This was a pretty rough introduction to guiding. I hope she won’t be scared away, lol!!

When I got back, I showed Huib my right knee, which was scraped up, then I took my left shoe off and asked him how bad it looked…

His immediate response was: “Go sit on the love seat and put your foot up. I have no idea how you even walked home.”

My ankle was completely swollen. It looked like someone had cut a tennis ball in half and put it over my ankle – OOPS!!

Thankfully, C and I had just been walking.

Over the past five days, I have been icing several times a day and elevating my ankle. With all of the bruising, Huib was concerned I might have actually fractured it, but I can walk without much of a limp and the pain level isn’t too bad, so he thinks it’s just badly sprained.

I am going to keep icing and elevating it over the next week, so hopefully I can get back to tracking and field in a week, and running in a few more.

I will keep you all posted on my recovery.

Not This Time

Sunday was Rogue’s UTD test in London. Despite some really good work, she did not earn her title.

When we arrived at the draw, I picked track #2. Maybe I’m getting used to these tests, or maybe it helped that I knew several of the people, but I did not really feel nervous.

I am trying to stop worrying about the ribbons and titles, but to just enjoy the journey and the opportunity to socialize with others who enjoy the same sports.

Sunday was warm, I think it was already in the mid—twenties by the time the first track was run. Once the first dog had finished, I started getting Rogue ready. I put her tracking harness on, gave her some water and then clipped her tracking line to the front ring of her harness.

We walked up to the start flag which marked the scent pad. About three feet from the scent pad, I asked Rogue to sit and then clipped her line to the back ring of her harness, before saying: “Check it out.”

Rogue sniffed the scent pad really well, checked to the left, then right, and in front, before taking me to the right side from the scent pad. She was revved, she knew what she needed to do – Good Girl!!

A short distance from the first turn, we ran into problems. She started checking all over, trying to figure out where the track went next. She walked all around the berm to the left and checked to the right and a bit straight ahead. I think we stood waiting for her to decide for about three minutes, before she seemed to decide on turning left. Huib and I both weren’t completely convinced, but felt we should follow along and see what happens. About ten metres after turning, the judge blew the whistle – CRAP!!!

I think Rogue would have fixed herself if we had been given a bit more room, but who knows. She did a good job anyway.

After a quick chat with the judge, we were allowed to finish the track with Rogue. She was a bit less confident on the grass portions than on the pavement, but she found both of her articles and showed tons of enthusiasm when she located them – Good Girl!!

I think the quick switch in temperatures played a huge role in the test results for all four of the dogs who were at the test. Sadly, none of them passed.

Rogue loves the sun, even lays out in the backyard sunbathing, but she was panting a lot more than usual on her track. I think the heat really bothered her 🙁

Once everyone had run their track, we went back to the draw location and had lunch. The judge did a quick rundown of how each dog did, then we headed home.

I was very proud of Rogue. She did a great job!! Better luck next time 🙂

Busy Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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.

Too Cold

Today’s field class was in the water.

Arizona wasn’t so sure she wanted to go in…

It took a lot of convincing, both from us and the gunners…

Once in, she went straight for the duck, then swam right back to me. She came out of the water, dropped the duck at my feet, and waited. I asked her to sit, but she refused, so after a few requests, she finally did. Then I asked her to shake, blowing in her face, before asking her to sit again, so I could put her leash on.

Then, we did it all again.

It took even more convincing the second time to get her to go into the pond. I wonder if she felt it was too cold.

Once in, she went to the duck, came right back and handed it to me – Good Girl!! I took the duck, asked her to sit, then shake, and sit again, so I could put her leash on.

Now that the warmer weather has arrived, Huib and I are going to try and get Ari swimming at least a few times a week.

Despite hesitating to go into the water, Arizona showed a lot of progress. Unlike previous years, she didn’t refuse to retrieve the duck or to bring it right back. So we’ll definitely call this a WIN!!

More Field

Sorry for the lack of entries, but life got a bit busy.

Field class continues to be going well for Arizona. Other than some minor issues during an indoor class, she has been rocking the retrieves.

We have had a lot of rain, so a few weeks ago, we had an indoor class. There were about six dogs present. Susie had us begin by walking our dogs around the room at the same time. Ari was really excited at first, but after a couple of laps, she calmed down and I had her walking really nicely. She had no problems passing the flat-coats or the lab, but every time we passed a toller, she wanted to play, lol!!

After a bit, we were each given a couple of bumpers to practice the retrieve and ‘hold’ with our dogs. Arizona was really distracted at first, but then became unsure. There were some dogs barking and some owners being a bit more firm with their dogs, so I think it made her nervous.

After talking to a couple of other friends who use mainly positive reinforcement with their dogs, I think her reaction was a side effect of our training choices. All of us have noticed similar behaviours in our dogs, they all seem a bit more sensitive to seeing or hearing other dogs disciplined. It’s not that we do not discipline our dogs, it’s that we do it in a less harsh manner.

Once we figured out she was nervous, we stoped trying to get her to take the bumper, and just sat on the floor with her, letting her observe everyone else. After about 15 minutes, I did some level 1 behaviours with her, to get her back “into the game,” and offered the bumper. She took it!!

Susie then had us all line up and send our dogs one at a time to retrieve a duck. Arizona was great!!

Arizona is fine at shows and other dog events, so we aren’t sure if it would be worthwhile signing her up for an actual indoor group class, but we are considering it.

The temperatures continue to be on the cooler side, so we haven’t been able to do any water work yet. Arizona is rocking the land retrieves though.

While we wait for things to warm up, I am working on lengthening her ‘hold,’ and making sure she gets an opportunity to retrieve a variety of ducks. This week, she retrieved two very smelly, squishy ducks. I so badly wanted to refuse to take them, but obviously I had to pretend she was giving me the best gift ever, lol!!

If she continues to retrieve like this, then I think we are going to have a really good field season.

Field Class

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adventures in Running: A Rough One

I want to keep everyone up-to-date with my progress. I also think publicly writing about it helps me stay accountable.

Things are going pretty well this week, but last week was pretty rough.

D and I got together at 8:30am on the 15th for a run. It was a bit crisp temperature-wise, but once we got going, it wasn’t too bad. Our biggest challenge was the snow on the sidewalks. Most of the sidewalks close to my house were quite clear, but some of the others we travelled were full of drifts because on top of the snow was a lot of gusting wind.

Like usual we started out walking a couple of blocks to warm-up. There are three long metal electrical wire covers along the warm-up route, so that’s why we walk it. Once we passed the third grate, we started running to Grange. I’m not sure how far I made it, but probably about 100 metres before I needed to slow down. The rest of the route went very similar, we only did about four more running spurts which equalled about 100 metres each. So, on top of running less of a distance, we also couldn’t manage as many attempts.

On the bright side, we still got back to my place within the same amount of time as before, so I guess we must have at least walked faster.

We planned to get together again on Saturday, but D went home for the weekend, so we rescheduled for Wednesday. Then we got wild weather Wednesday, so we’ll try again Friday.

On the treadmill workout front, Jess continues to push me 🙂 Unfortunately, my migraines have really been getting in the way.

On Friday, I did 40 minutes that included incline work. I developed a bit of muscle discomfort in my left hip region, so Jess suggested I walk and avoid going past incline level four.

My walking pace has really increased since beginning this adventure. In December, my fastest speed was around 3.0, but this is now my cool down pace. My normal walking speed is up to 3.5 miles and is creeping towards 3.7.

The workout didn’t go too badly overall, but I definitely felt like giving up at various points. I pushed myself and got through all, but incline four, where my muscle discomfort began to increase after 2.5 minutes, so I finished the last 2.5 minutes at a lower incline level.

Jess and I have been talking about the 10k goal and we’ve decided to increase my workout days to four times a week.

On Monday, I had a migraine during the day, so in the evening I did a 35 minute walking workout that had me changing speeds. I did the usual three minute warm-up, then I did 6 reps of five minutes at 3.7 and five at 3.9. Other than getting really warm and wanting to stop because I was bored, I did it all, including a two minute cool down.

I’m not sure why, but i’m really finding it tough to get through some of my workouts right now…

Tuesday, I did a walk/run interval workout – I really dislike these ones!! I did my normal three minute warm-up at 3.1, up from 3.0, then attempted to do three minutes of walking at 3.6 and two minutes of running. I am still trying to figure out a good treadmill running speed, so I played around a little. My first run was at 5.0 and the second was at 5.5. After each run, I had to pause the timer for 30 seconds to catch my breath, wipe my face and drink a bit of water. Thinking I might be able to go without stopping if I slowed it down some, I did the third and fourth runs at 4.5, but I still had to take a break. At this point, I wanted to quit, but I also didn’t feel horrible, so I pushed myself to try a fifth run at 5.0. I only got through 90 seconds of the final run, but I was happy I tried and I finished with a three minute cool down at 3.0.

Since D and I weren’t able to get together on Wednesday, Jess said she had “an easy workout” for me to do. She was totally fibbing!! I got distracted by the papers I needed to mark and by a book I’m reading, so I didn’t get around to the workout until later in the evening.

In total, my workout was 48 minutes long. I did a three minute warm-up at 3.1, then did four intervals of walking at 3.7 and 3.9/4.0. I started out well. I did two full intervals without pausing the timer. After the second 4.0, I stopped for 30 seconds. I slowed the third interval from 4.0 to 3.9, hoping I could push through to the end of the fourth without stopping, but I had to stop for a minute. Then, after the fourth 3.7, I stopped for three minutes. I was done, I didn’t want to go any further, but then I felt really guilty. So, I made myself get back to work and squeezed out 2.5 minutes at 4.0 and then did a five minute cool down. Even though I didn’t get through the final five minutes of 4.0, I still felt good about it because I pushed myself to go further than I wanted.

Today is my day off, then D and I run at 8:30am.

Tracking Frustrations

This week we didn’t have obedience because Huib had to work late and I have been dealing with some weather-related migraines.

**********

This afternoon we had tracking with Laura and others. It was quite a large group: Sandy with Stewart, Mary with Cordelia, Annie with Trixie and Maestro, and then us with Rogue, Arizona and Canyon.

It was a pretty cold day, so Mary brought us all hot chocolate, Sandy brought yummy scones and we brought banana nut bread.

Laura laid tracks for Stewart, Cordelia, Rogue and Arizona before we all arrived, so they would have time to age. She then asked Huib to lay tracks for Trixie and Maestro, while Annie laid a track for Canyon.

Stewart and Cordelia went first. Each of them struggled a bit with their track, but did a good job overall.

Rogue went next. She did a beautiful job on her first leg, but then she got lost on her second and third legs. I’m not sure what messed her up, but it kind of frustrated me. I was probably totally over-thinking things, but I kept wondering if maybe we shouldn’t even consider entering the urban test in April. Laura said the area was quite contaminated and not to worry, and Huib feels the wind might have played a part, but I was still a bit frustrated with Rogue’s work – I’m such a bad handler, I shouldn’t have blamed her for the problems… Rogue did a great job on the rest of her track, so she definitely redeemed herself – good girl!!

I’m still not sure I want to enter the test in April, but I think we have a bit of time to decide.

Arizona was next. She did some great work, but then some not-so-good stuff. She almost missed her first article. Then she got really distracted by a bunch of birds, specifically a fat robin, lol!! I think she also found it tough working close to a fence line.

I’m not sure if it was the cold temperatures or the fact we were working in a school yard, but all of the more advanced dogs seemed to face some challenges today.

Canyon had had a seizure around noon, so we did an easy warm-up track to judge how he was feeling. His last seizure was a mild one on February 3rd. Added to the upcoming snowstorm that is forecasted to hit tomorrow, this is about his regular time for another. His seizure was one of his usual ones, with lots of drooling, muscle tremors, fixed eyes, but totally aware of things around him, and a release of his anal glands. Once it was over, he got up and started begging for my lunch, lol!! The warm-up track went well, so we decided to let him do the one Annie laid.

He found both of the articles and did a great job on the final leg, but he was pretty unsettled. I’m really hoping that as he continues to run tracks, he’ll return to his initial focused working that we witnessed a month ago.

**********

I’m not sure if it’s related to his unsettled work at tracking, but a couple of hours after we got home, Canyon had a second seizure. This one was short, but about the same intensity as the one earlier in the day. I think it might be the upcoming snowstorm that is causing him problems. I sure know it has been causing me issues, with constant migraines and nausea at times.

For both of our sakes, I hope Mother Nature makes up her mind soon and sticks with some sort of weather for a while before changing again.

Progress and Struggles

On Thursday evening we had another obedience class.

Class started with me working in the ring alone. Susie is trying to help me become more confident with the exercises. She is hoping that by practicing each week, it will become less stressful and require very little thought to complete. I do different heeling patterns, walking forward, stopping and turning in various directions. Susie thinks I am looking less uncomfortable each week.

Some dogs, like Rogue, cue off their human’s body language, so if the human knows what they are doing, it’ll be easier to avoid cuing the dog to do the wrong behaviours.

When I was finished, I called Arizona into the ring and we got to work.

Heeling is still an issue, but we have progressed in other areas. Ari did several sit-stays ranging from 15 to 30 seconds long. She stayed in place until I recalled her, and then she stayed until I returned and released her. I also used ‘touch’ to keep her attention off Susie and Huib as they made “beep, beep…” sounds, so I knew where the posts were for the figure eight.

We will get there.

Rogue and Huib were awesome!! Huib has really worked on keeping Rogue’s attention on him, and it has made a huge difference!! He needs to continue working on having Rogue stay until he returns – she gets up as soon as he comes close – but it’ll come. She just needs to learn that when we cue a ‘stay,’ she’s supposed to remain in position, but if we’re just walking around the house, she needs to MOVE.

To add a bit of challenge to our work, Susie suggested we both come into the ring. She had us go to opposite ends of the room and asked us to follow her instructions. Both girls were distracted by the other team. Rogue was distracted by me and Ari, while Arizona was distracted by Huib and Rogue.

We also did a ‘group’ sit-stay. Both girls rocked it!!

Susie says we will do this each week to give the girls some high distraction work. No one is more distracting than your best buddy and your other human.

**********

Saturday morning was Cessna’s annual vet check. I was worried about the large lump under Cessna’s front left leg. It has grown since last year’s appointment, so I thought Bianca might say we needed to have it removed. We were pleasantly surprised to find out she was not really worried, but said we would continue watching it. I am glad because she’s almost 13.5, so I don’t know if it would be good to do surgery, and I don’t think I could decide against it. Cessna is really happy, pretty healthy, and appears to have a lot of life left in her.

Bianca asked a lot of questions about what we are feeding Cessna and what supplements she is getting. She also asked about any illness or concerns. Cessna has lost a whole kilogram since last year, so Bianca wants us to feed her more and to bring in a urine sample. She didn’t have any concerns when she did the physical exam, but did voice her distress regarding Cessna’s coat condition. I told her it hasn’t changed in the past year or so, even though we have tried a number of different options. We will not be vaccinating Cessna anymore, but Bianca still wanted to run Parvo and Distemper titres, along with a geriatric blood panel and a test for Heartworm and tick-borne diseases. The results from the tests should come back in about a week.

After paying, we took Cessna back to the vehicle, and then brought each of the others in to be weighed. All three youngsters need to lose about four pounds!!

**********

In the afternoon, we had tracking with Laura.

Canyon was all over the place for most of his track. He found both articles and did some pretty good work the last 10 metres or so. I think it is just going to take time.

Once he gets the idea, he’s going to be great!!

Arizona was amazing!! She found all of her articles, did some surface changes (crossing over sidewalks), and barely overshot corners. Unlike Rogue, Ari only seems to go a foot or two past her corners before she realizes she has lost scent.

She stopped a couple of times to think, but Laura said that’s normal, so not to worry and not to rush her.

Rogue started off really well, but I think having to relieve herself caused some focus issues. She rarely goes to the washroom when not at home, but we fed them after Cessna’s appointment, so I think her schedule was off.

Rogue missed her first two articles, but found the others. She cut corners in several spots, so I think that might have been why she ended up on the opposite side of the sidewalk from her track at one point.

Rogue has had a really good couple of months for tracking, so it was about time for some mistakes.

I’m thinking about entering her into an urban test at the end of April, so hopefully we’ve got our struggles done for a bit.

Until next time 🙂