Field Update

Last week was the first class we had attended in a couple of weeks.

There was a storm brewing, so we only did work on land. I want Arizona to start training for the WCI (working certificate intermediate), so we did a training double.

First, Arizona retrieved a single duck, like usual. Then, I set her up to watch the gunners each toss one. The first duck is called the “memory bird” because it is the duck that the dog needs to remember the location of. She went over to the second duck that dropped, picked it up and brought it back to me. Then, I set her up again to send her for the first bird that dropped, or the memory bird.

I took too long setting her up for the resend, so Laura had to help her find the second bird. Sue suggested I release her the second I notice her look in the direction of the bird, and forget about setting her up. I am still learning, so I am always eager for advice. I will try this next time.

This week we worked on the stuff she will need to know for the JH (junior hunt) tests in September.

When we arrived at Susie’s place, we were about 10 minutes early, so Huib got out a bumper and we did a few practice tosses. We are hoping that the extra practice before training will help Arizona get over her hesitation. She had no problems jumping into the pond to get her bumper.

Arizona’s first duck retrieve went really well. When I sent her for her second one, she stopped at the edge of the pond to watch a mink run along the edge. It took a lot of convincing, but she finally jumped into the pond and retrieved her bird. Dean, one of the duck toller handlers, said Arizona’s pretty smart not to want to mess with a mink. I guess they are pretty nasty little creatures.

There were only three dogs (Arizona, Beep and Shelby) in attendance, so we had a lot of time to work on things.

I guess some clubs are starting to run tests where the dog does a land retrieve, and then turns around to do a water one. Sandy, who’s filling in for Susie while she’s away, did the land retrieve and Dean did the water.

Arizona did a beautiful land retrieve. Sandy set it up so that the dogs had to run down a hill and up another to get to the duck. It took a second for Ari to find her bird, but Sandy said you could see when she caught the scent because she ran right over to it.

The water retrieve went a bit rough. Huib says Ari kept sniffing the pond surface, not wanting to go in. He wonders if maybe she smelled the mink, so didn’t want to enter. After several minutes of convincing, she finally leaped in and swam right over to the duck. She brought it over and handed it right to me – Good Girl!!

Even though we are still running into some hesitation problems, I think Arizona has really improved since last year.

Fun in the Sun

We had a great Sunday!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canyon the Therapy Dog

Hello Blog Readers. It’s Canyon here!!

It has been a really long time since Mommy gave me a chance to use the computer. I am going to tell you all about my day.

Every Tuesday, I go to work with Daddy. His work has a pet therapy program and I am one of the dogs who participates.

I LOVE my job!!!

Every Tuesday, Mommy or Daddy combs out my beautiful golden coat. When I see Daddy take my collar off the leash holder, I run over, because I know it’s time to go to work.

I will use today’s schedule as an example of what I do.

Daddy brings me to work and I hang out in our office. At about 10:00am, different recreation people come to take me to a neighbourhood or two before returning me to the office. When I know we are going back, I always pull them there because I don’t want them to get lost and I know Daddy is waiting for me to return.

This morning, I went with three different recreation people to visit residents. After each staff member was done with me, they took me outside for a washroom break – They take such GOOD care of me!!

Over lunch, Daddy has to go help the residents eat, so I take a nap in our office. Then, I get back to work!!

This afternoon, I went with three staff members to visit the neighbourhoods who wanted a second visit.

Once 3:30pm came around, I didn’t really want to go visiting anymore, but I knew the residents were counting on me, so I went.

When I got back to the office, I had a big drink, a few sweet potato treats, and then settled in for a long nap.

My day is always busy, but I love visiting everyone, and I think everyone loves to see me.

I may not work like Rogue, or do fancy retrieve work like Arizona, but I LOVE my job!!!

Hormones

PHEW…the heat cycle adventure is almost over. Arizona is on day 16, so just five more days to go.

This is the fourth time Arizona has been in heat, so we’ve gotten pretty good at knowing what to expect and what to do.

Poor Canyon gets really attracted starting on day 11, so for the second time, he went to visit our friends. Last time, he went for a week, but this time, he was only gone four days.

During his time away, he had a run-in with a skunk – poor guy!! Canyon doesn’t chase or bother anything, but I guess he must have scared the skunk. Thankfully, he only got some spray under his chin, so it wasn’t too bad to clean up. Huib went over to help Mandi, so we could try and prevent hotspots.

On Friday evening he came home. At first, we had just him on leash, but Arizona kept rolling around in front of him or walking by, so we put her on leash too. I sat on one side of the room with a golden and Huib sat on the other with a golden. It worked out pretty well.

Saturday night when I was putting him to bed, he jumped up on our bed to see if Arizona was available, she told him to “PISS OFF!!” LOL!! I had her in her crate, so he wasn’t able to get any more than a sniff.

On Sunday, I had her on the couch with me, while Huib and Canyon fixed some things around the house. At one point, Huib dropped his leash, so he came over to sniff her. She very clearly told him to “SCREW OFF!!”

Poor hormonal Candyman.

Thankfully, he seemed less interested this morning, so hopefully the worst is behind us. He went to work with Huib today and will do the same until at least Wednesday.

Now that she’s less attractive to males, we’ll get back to field classes. If we can swing it, I hope to enter her in a couple of hunt tests in September.

Good Week

Canyon left Monday evening to visit friends for a few days, so Huib and I went to the mall. I wanted to buy a nose plug, as well as a new bathing suit because mine is over 10 years old. We found a nose plug no problem, but the bathing suit will have to wait. There were very few nice ones we saw under $80, which is just a wee bit over my budget, lol!!

We had hoped to go swimming at 9:00pm, but Huib got my cold. We went home and relaxed instead.

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On Tuesday, Arizona was a bit whiny from boredom, or something like that, so I did some level 1 work from Sue Ailsby’s Training Levels. I haven’t really been good about working each week, so I wanted to start out easy, and then we’ll work our way back into level 2. The girls did a good job. Both Rogue and Arizona are definitely able to move right back into level 2.

At 9:00pm, we went to Victoria Road Rec Centre for a swim. The pool was pretty busy, so Huib had to help me avoid others in our lane. It went pretty good. We swam 500 m in 50 minutes. It was nice not having to worry about water going up my nose.

The only problem I had was when I did a sudden left turn and ran into the wall with my head – OUCH!! Huib felt really bad, but there was really nothing he could have done to stop me in time.

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On Wednesday, Huib’s work, had a stampede evening for the residents. Rogue and I went with Huib. I wanted to see the mechanical bull riding contests and to let Rogue socialize with the residents. Unfortunately, it rained after about an hour, so the staff had to quickly move everyone back indoors. When everything was inside, Huib and I walked around the neighbourhoods handing out the stampede snacks. Even though it was rained out after a short time, I still think the residents enjoyed themselves. Rogue and I sat with a couple residents, while Huib helped hand out drinks.

Rogue enjoyed the clean-up part the best. She got to have a couple of the remaining corndogs.

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Thursday evening, Huib and I went to the 50 m swim at Victoria Road. We had to take a break at 25 m, but it went okay. We swam 500 m in 50 minutes.

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This weekend was a bit quieter than others because we needed to keep the goldens apart.

On Saturday, Huib and I went to the Westend Rec Centre’s 1:00pm swim. It was pretty busy at the pool, so we ended up taking shorter breaks at each end. In total, we swam 600 m in 50 minutes. We also did some leg work.

After swimming, we came back to pick up Rogue and Canyon. I wanted to get him away from Arizona for a bit, so his hormones could calm down. We went to Rens to get some cat food, then I stayed in the car with the dogs, while Huib went to grab a few groceries.

On Sunday, we cleaned the house and did some laundry. Huib installed a couple new outlets that have USB slots in them – VERY COOL!!!

We also did some things on our “To Do List.” The dollar is quite good at the moment, so Huib ordered the general golden retriever panel for Arizona on Paw Print Genetics, and then signed her and I up for a couple classes through the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy.

As mentioned before, as part of her health clearances for breeding, we are doing some genetic testing. Paw Print has a 50% off sale, so quite a good deal with our dollar being higher.

This term we are going to do a skateboarding class with Donna Hill and another gun dog class, that focuses on water retrieves, with Cassia Turcotte.

I know Arizona will enjoy the skateboarding class, but I am hoping Rogue will also like it.

Until next time. Stay safe and enjoy the sun!!

Tracking in the Rain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adventures in Swimming: Aqua Fit

On Monday evening, Huib and I went to Victoria Road for their 9:00pm fitness swim. We swam 500 metres. I don’t want to go any further for now, I want to focus on my technique and on breathing. We had about 10 minutes left, so I practiced the scissor kick with a board.

Huib says it is starting to look like I am doing more of a crawl, as opposed to the doggie paddle – YAY!!! I also started to play around with the butterfly stroke, but I can’t quite figure out the proper leg movements for that one, so I’ll stick to crawl for now.

On Thursday evening we went to Westend for shallow water aqua fit. There were about 10 or so people, ranging in age from early 20s to retirement age. I went to an aqua fit class when I was at the University of Guelph, but I didn’t remember much about it. I found it fun.

The instructor had about four different sets of three movements that she had us do three times through. We pretended to cross-country ski, do karate kicks, jog, and even march. I found the cross country skiing moves to be the most difficult to figure out. I think the jumping moves are the ones that caused some ankle pain. We did jumping jacks, frog jumps and bouncy jumps. I think it was hard for Huib to keep up and describe things, but I felt like he did a pretty good job.

Since the class caused some discomfort in my ankle, we’re going to stick to just swimming for a couple of weeks. We may try deep water aqua fit next, my friend says it might be a bit less stress on my ankle.

On Sunday morning we are going to a different pool for their 9:00am fitness swim.

Good Weekend

This weekend was a busy and exciting one for us.

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

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

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

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

I am SO proud of them!!

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

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

Stay tuned for more swimming updates…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.