Adventures in Swimming: Learning to Kick

I have made some good progress in swimming this week.

Tuesday was quite humid and warm, so we skipped field class and stayed home. Huib and I headed to the Victoria Road Rec Centre at 8:50pm, so we would be in the water by 9:00pm.

There were six people in the pool besides us, so we had to share the slow lane with two other swimmers. Huib did a pretty good job of keeping me out of their way. 🙂

We swam 500 metres, or 10 laps!! I was pretty excited, as well as being pretty tired.

On Thursday, we went to the Westend Rec Centre because Victoria Road has 50 metre swims. We did the 50 metre length last Thursday, but I found it a bit too tough, so we’ll do it once in a while. Just not every week.

I had a weather-related migraine, so we delayed our departure, so I could take meds and give them time to work. We didn’t end up getting into the pool until about 9:10pm or so. We only got 475 metres in before we had to get out.

Huib and I worked on my leg movement. He showed me how to do a scissor kick, so I practiced that for the entire swim. It was hard to keep my legs from doing a frog-like kick, but I think I did it correctly about 25% of the time. Whenever I had to adjust my direction, I’d lose track of what my legs were doing. Then, I would try to get my arms moving right and then my legs would start copying my arm movements, lol!!

Huib says I am doing less of the doggie paddle and more of a crawl now – PROGRESS!!!

If nothing else comes up, we’re going to head to the pool on Sunday during one of the public swim times and do some more leg work. I think I will use a kick board for 30 minutes and just work on kicking without any arm stuff. Then finish off with some regular swimming.

I am feeling less nervous in the pool, and kind of look forward to our swim times. 🙂

Ankle Injury Update

Four week post-injury update.

My ankle is improving. I no longer experience any discomfort, unless I have done too much. I stopped icing it around Wednesday. I am still doing my daily range of motion exercises and I am walking indoors with Huib. I walk a bit outdoors, but I try to limit this right now.

On Thursday, while we got our car repairs done, I worked a bit with Rogue indoors. I had her walking slowly, so that I was safe, but it felt good to let her work.

I returned to tracking and field classes. I put my tensor bandage on and wear my hiking boots for extra support. For the most part, I’m doing well, but I do experience some discomfort when working on grass or in the fields, so I try to limit that. When I do notice some lingering pain, I make sure to take the following day off from all activities.

For exercise, I swim at least twice a week.

Our local pool has nightly lane swims, so Huib and I go to the 9:00pm time slot. As of last Thursday, we are up to 475 metres. I am hoping to reach 500 this week.

I am still not an effective swimmer, but I hope that will improve with time. I think the biggest thing holding me back is my dislike of getting water up my nose, so I need to work on breathing at the correct times.

As long as all continues the way it is going, I should be able to start short (about 5 minutes) walks on the treadmill later this week or next. I hope to start at least short fast walks the following week.

It has been a slow healing process, but I don’t want to be dealing with long-term arthritis issues, so I’m trying to be patient and listen to my body.

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.

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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.

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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…

Adventures in Swimming: Grand Opening

I am not a fan of swimming. I can’t even remember the last time I swam.

With my ankle injury, I haven’t been able to do much, other than stretches and walking around the house. I have spent most of the past two weeks on the couch icing and elevating my foot. Things are improving, but I am still not at a point where I would think about long walks, let alone running.

Enter swimming. It puts less stress on my ankle, while giving me the opportunity to somewhat maintain my fitness. It will also allow me to work on some other muscle groups that running does not touch.

Yesterday, was the grand opening of the city pool near us. Along with some community groups with tables offering information about themselves, the Victoria Road Recreation Centre held a free public swim. The Centre was completely overhauled to be more accessible to everyone.

Huib and I weren’t sure how busy it would be, so we packed a bag, but left it in the car while we went for a tour. It is a pretty nice place.

The pool was busy, but not too bad, so we got our stuff and went to change in the “Universal Change Room,” or whatever they called it. It’s a change room where both genders can go, probably mostly meant for the parents of young children.

The shallow and deep ends were both pretty busy, so Huib and I stayed in the part that is about six feet. The water was a nice temperature, so we went down the ladder and held onto the pool edge.

Once I felt comfortable and the coast was clear, Huib started swimming towards the opposite wall (width of pool) and I followed. He didn’t swim too far ahead, keeping an eye on where I was and calling out directions when needed. Overall, I think I did a pretty good job for not having swam in several years.

I need to work on getting my arms out of the water and my head further in, but I think that will come with time. My left arm seems to be my strongest, so I kept turning to the left, lol!!

I had hoped to do five laps (swimming over to the opposite side of the pool and back), but we only got three and a half in before the lifeguards blew the whistle and asked everyone to get out of the pool. They needed everyone to stay out for about 30 minutes, so the pool could filter itself, then we could have gone back in for about an hour and a half.

After about 10 minutes of waiting, Huib started to get itchy, so we got back into our clothes and went home.

For the next two to three weeks, I hope to get into the pool a few times a week. Once I get back into running, I will try to continue going to the pool at least once a week.

At the moment, I am not a strong swimmer, but maybe that will change with practice.

Working Certificate

SUCCESS!!!

On Thursday evening Arizona earned her WC (working certificate). This is the first of the retriever titles and the very first title our girl has obtained.

We had not planned on entering this test, but over the past couple of weeks Arizona has done really well in the water, so we thought: “why not?”

I am still in recovery mode, so I iced my ankle, put on my tensor bandage and wore my hiking boots for extra protection. I also let Huib walk Arizona up to the blind for me, so that she would not cause me to misstep.

When we got to the test, we were pleasantly surprised to see a few others from our field class, including Susie.

There were 10 dogs, including Arizona, with two of them trying for their WCI (working certificate, intermediate). There was a duck toller, three flat-coats, four labs and two goldens, including Ari.

Since we signed up last minute, Arizona was dog number eight for WC.

Once we registered, we went over to the test area to watch the test dog run the land portion. They have a test dog run, so people know what is expected of their dogs.

While the first five dogs ran the land portion, Huib tried to get Arizona to relieve herself. Once she went, we started to get ready. I got my lanyard and whistle, while Huib sprayed Arizona with her herbal tick spray. When he saw the seventh dog go into the blind, we put Arizona’s slip lead on and started walking towards the test area.

While waiting in the blind, I got Arizona to go over to my right side and switched her lead over to our ready position. I put her lead on in such a way that makes it easy to quickly release her when I’m given the go-ahead by the judge.

When it was our turn, we made our way to the line. Arizona always gets really excited at this point, so often walks on two, rather than four, feet, lol!!

At the line, Huib let me know where I needed to face and I got Ari set up. Once she was positioned, I let the judge know I was ready, and she signalled the first gunner.

As I gave the judge the sign, I also asked Arizona to “Mark,” or to look out because something is about to happen. As soon as she heard the gunshot, I felt her lock on to the target. Once the judge gave me the go-ahead to release her, I let go of the lead with my one hand, which release her and I said “Fetch!!” in an excited tone.

And, she was off!!

She ran straight towards the duck. As she got near, Huib quietly began the countdown, and when she picked it up, he quietly said “now,” and I blew the whistle three times (her recall), said “Good Girl!!, Here…”

Arizona ran straight back to me. Unfortunately, Huib forgot to do his usual countdown to let me know when she is close, so she got past me and I had to reach for her behind me. As I started to take the duck, she released before I had a good grasp, so it landed on the ground. This was fine, as for WC the dogs do not have to deliver to hand, but just bring the duck over the line.

During her second land retrieve, she ran past the duck, so had to do a bit of searching before she found it. Arizona released the duck before I got a good hold of it again, but otherwise, she did well.

After the dogs did their land retrieves, we got back into our vehicles and drove to the water.

Before doing the water portion of the test, we had dinner. The club had hamburgers and sausages for sale with macaroni salad, water or pop and two-bite brownies. We sat with Susie and a few others people from our training class.

As we were eating, the mosquitoes got pretty vicious. Before we watched the test dog run, Huib broke out the OFF repellant and resprayed Ari with her stuff. I don’t normally like using the chemicals, even with us, but the mosquitoes were terrible!!

As the first six dogs ran, Huib tried to relieve Arizona. It took a while, but finally she did both.

While in the blind, I put Arizona on my right again, and changed her lead over to the easy to release position.

When we got up to the water’s edge, which was really squishy, Huib explained where I should try and get Ari looking. He then backed up and I got us positioned.

I then asked her to “Mark” as I gave the judge the go-ahead. I try not to have anyone talk to me from behind while Ari is positioned or she tends to turn around, or at least look the wrong way.

When the judge said I could release Ari, I dropped the lead and said “Fetch!!” in an excited voice. Huib said she ran up to the water’s edge, walked a few steps to either side, as though she was checking to make sure it was safe, and then deciding it was okay, she jumped in.

She swam right to the duck. Huib did his countdown, so I knew exactly when to blow the whistle and praise. As she got closer, Huib counted down, so I could reach out for the duck in time. It worked, she delivered right to hand.

When I sent her for the second duck, she didn’t hesitate at all, she just jumped into the water – GOOD GIRL!!!

When she came back and handed me the duck, I was SO proud of her!!

Back at the car, I gave Ari a big hug and several treats, along with some water.

After the WCI dogs had gone, it was time for the rosettes to be handed out.

When Arizona’s name was called, Huib walked up with us. The judges shook our hands and gave us a brown rosette with gold writing.

Arizona was so excited about her rosette, that she jumped three feet in the air and tried to take it from me, lol!!

It has been an exciting and sometimes frustrating journey, but it has been worth it.

Now onto the next adventure…

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 🙂

Adventures in Running: The Next Chapter

After a week off, I’m slowly getting back into my workouts. Since I do not have any imminent race plans, I’ve decided to reduce my workout days to three times a week.

After some thought, I’ve decided that my next goal is going to be continually running a 5k race. My friend Jason has said he will do one in the fall with me, so that will be my deadline. We are going to look at the different races taking place in Ottawa and Guelph, then choose one we like.

On Wednesday, I did a 30 minute walk on the treadmill to warm-up my muscles. I did 10 minutes at 3.2, 10 minutes at 3.5 and then 10 minutes at 3.7. Then at 6:30pm, D and I went to the Running Room to check out their group runs.

There were two different group runs taking place: a 7k trail run and then a learn-to-run group. We joined the learn-to-run one because D worried about her ability to keep me safe on the trail. It is tough enough for her to watch for uneven sidewalks and other obstacles, so a trail could be a nightmare.

The route was 2k, a shorter distance than we usually do, but it was fun. The group leader had us doing one minute of running and one minute of walking the whole route. I think it took us about 40 minutes. The leader asks the people in front to region the group each time it switches over to walking, so D and I didn’t run as fast as we usually do – probably half of our usual speed. Even though it was slower and shorter than usual, it was still fun, so I think I will try and join the group as often as I can.

After we got back to the store, I talked to the leader and she said anytime I want to join them, I am welcome to come and someone will be able to guide me.

I would still like to find another guide, but this is a good option for now and one that I will continue in the future because it was a lot of fun.

Jess thinks the learn-to-run group will help me run better. I am going to focus on building my endurance.

Until next time…stay safe and enjoy the warmer weather!!