Tracking Updates

I haven’t written about tracking in a while. We have been working on it though.

Over the past month, we have been tracking a few times a week.

Rogue is doing really, really well. Her work ethic is amazing and her focus is beautiful. We have been concentrating on urban because I have been hoping to test this spring. We got into the London test, which is this weekend. I am nervous about it, not because I think she isn’t ready, but it is supposed to get really hot this weekend. I think the temperature is supposed to be 30 degrees Celsius on Sunday and there is a risk of thunderstorms.

I am crossing my fingers for good conditions though. This will be our third attempt. I am hoping third time will be the charm. 🙂

Arizona is progressing well. Her focus and work ethic is improving every time we track. I think we need to start making her tracks a bit longer and begin adding in new elements like pavement, so she won’t get too used to the ‘easier’ stuff.

Canyon is still struggling a bit with the concept of tracking, but he is learning. Huib has been handling him for now, as it’s easier for him to help Canyon when necessary. Once he gets the concept, I will take over as his handler. I think he enjoys tracking, especially because he gets to find ‘toys’ along the way, also known as ‘articles.’

Once we get past this weekend, we will move over to field tracking. There aren’t really anymore tests until the fall, so we will have a lot of time to do some field tracking with a bit of urban mixed in.

I really, really hope Rogue passes on Sunday!!

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.

Adventures in Running: Race Day

I did it. I did my first, and definitely not my last, 10 kilometre race!!

Saturday morning, Rogue, Huib and I travelled to Ottawa. We arrived around noon.

Jess met us outside of her place, so we could go run a few errands. First, we went to the Running Room to grab some clothes and energy gels. I got a black t-shirt and black shorts, while Jess got a purple tank top, purple and black shorts, and some colourful socks. I’m glad Jess convinced me to grab some clothes because when I went to get dressed, I realized that I had forgotten to pack my running pants and jacket, lol!!

After the Running Room, we went to Critter Jungle for some dog stuff. I bought Rogue and Nala each a cool vegetarian treat that was in the shape of a dinosaur. Jess bought Arizona and Canyon a really cool bacon flavoured Nylabone-like wishbone shaped toy for their birthdays (Ari’s was on the 17th and Candy’s is on the 3rd). I suggested she buy it for the two of them to share because it was expensive and they are competitive, so having to share a toy would make it an even cooler one. They love it!!

Nala turned six yesterday, so Jess bought her a ChuckIt! launcher and some tennis balls. She also got her little dogs some cool chews for when her and Nala have to leave them home alone.

Around 6:00pm, we set off for Ottawa City Hall to meet up with our guides. Rogue and Nala hung out with Huib while we were running.

It was really busy, so Huib had Jason hold onto him, while Rogue and Nala guided Jess and I through the crowds. The girls were fabulous!! As it got more congested, Jess gave me her tether to hold, so that we would not lose one another. Nala is longer than Rogue, so even though her and Jess were walking behind us, she was able to walk beside me on the right, so her and Rogue could make room for us to move through the people. I was pretty darn proud of the two of them!!

It took a bit for our guides to find us, but once they did, we gave Huib our girls and then set off for the starting line.

Oh, I forgot to mention, the four of us were all wearing tutus. I wore a royal blue one, Jess had a purple one, my guide had a black one that lit up and Jess’ guide wore a lime green one. My guide also wore a batman t-shirt, so he looked pretty cool!!

When the race began, they had us all start at different times because there were thousands of racers and we all ran different speeds. To make things less crazy, they organized people into different groups based on the estimated time you thought you would take to complete the race. I tend to take about ten minutes per kilometre, so we were near the back of the pack.

Jess and her guide were doing the race to support me, so they stayed behind us. They sang, danced and had me laughing the whole way. I honestly never thought running could be so much fun!!

Jess’ guide had us working at a pretty constant pace that we maintained most of the way. I think we completed the first half of the race in 45 minutes, which would be about nine minutes a kilometre.

Around kilometre six, I began to lose energy, so Jess gave me an espresso gel. It kicked in at about kilometre number eight, allowing me to finish the race with energy to spare.

In the end, we did 10 kilometres in one hour and thirty-two minutes. This is about eight minutes faster than my usual time, so I was pretty excited!!

Thank you Jess, for motivating me to try running and for helping me train.

Thank you Huib, for cheering me on and for helping me with my treadmill workouts.

Thank you D, for the dedication and for being an amazing guide.

Thank you to my race guide, for keeping me safe and entertained.

Finally, thank you Team Tutu!! You guys were the best race partners ever!! I have never laughed so hard.

Now, I need to set a new goal…

More Water

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

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

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

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

*****

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

Adventures in Running: Another Update

On Monday, D came and we did another seven kilometre route. It was slightly different from the one on Saturday, with less hills.

It took us about 70 minutes.

I am not sure if we’re running or walking any faster, but I think we’re definitely running for longer periods of time. If the weather cools down, I’d really like to try Map My Run, an iPhone app that can measure pace, distance and other things like that. I need cooler temperatures, so that I can wear a coat and my phone will be safe. At the moment, I leave my phone home, so it won’t fall out of my pocket.

I felt less klutzy and a bit lighter on my feet than I did on Saturday.

It was pretty warm, so I was really glad to get into the shower after returning. I totally dislike sweating, lol!!

On Tuesday, Jess asked me to do a short workout that just included 30 minutes of brisk walking with a five minute warm-up and cool down.

I did both the warm-up and cool down at 3.2, and walked 30 minutes at 3.7.

I think it would be nice to get an exercise bike or something, so I can mix up the workouts a bit.

The workout went well. I thought I could forgo keeping a washcloth nearby to wipe sweat, but as I was about to start the final 10 minutes of walking, sweat began to run into my eyes – ICK!! So, I quickly ran to the washroom to grab a washcloth, and then finished the workout.

On Thursday evening, D came and we did a five kilometre route in about 50 minutes. It was our usual one, so we walked the usual warm-up path, down Watt, and up Starwood to Grange. My muscles felt relatively good, so after crossing Grange, we began our first section of running. It went pretty well.

I felt a bit heavy on my feet the first couple of times we ran, but I started feeling more comfortable the third time. About halfway through our walk, it began to spit and steadily got worse, so D and I stood in a bus shelter for 10 minutes while it poured and the wind blew. It was pretty wild weather, that didn’t last long at all.

We then continued on.

We walked a block or so, then began to run. Each time I ran, I felt some muscle tightness in the shin region of both legs, but it quickly resolved itself once we began just walking. I think I am probably walking and running a bit faster, so my legs are feeling it right now.

We probably ran the longest distance when we were going down the Grange hill. It was fun to run down the hill, but also a good opportunity to practice safety because D had to be extra watchful for awkward footing or anything else that might cause me to trip. She did an awesome job!!

As long as she can get off work in time, we are going to get together Tuesday evening before we head to Arizona’s field class.

Look Who’s Three!!!

Today is a very special day for Taygold’s Kindred Spirit.

Arizona is now three years old!!

A lot has happened in the almost three years of having her in our lives.

We have had a lot of ups and downs together, but no matter what, she can always make us laugh.

Despite having to endure almost a full month of Arizona screaming while crated, I still do not regret having her join our family.

Ari is the craziest, most loving and highly entertaining golden girl we know!!

She has taught us tons, and we hope she has learned at least something from us.

No matter what happens during a class, or at a test, we always know Arizona is going to make the experience fun!!

Airy Berry, please don’t ever stop being you!!

HAPPY 3RD BIRTHDAY BABY GIRL!!!

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!!

Adventures in Running: 12 More Days

D is back for a week or so.

On Saturday afternoon, we did a seven kilometre route in about 70 minutes.

Normally, we warm-up before starting to run. This time, I didn’t think about it, so after our second run, my lower calf muscles were hurting.

So, we walked at a brisk speed until I felt better.

Our route was a bit more hilly and the temperature was warmer, so I think it slowed us down a bit.

I was also a bit klutzy at times – poor D!!

Despite all of this, I think the run/brisk walk went well. Maybe I’m imagining things, but I felt as though we ran longer spurts.

This week is supposed to be warmer, so I am hoping we can get out a couple of times. I would much rather run several days outdoors, than even once on the treadmill, lol!!

After showering and getting dressed again, Huib and I went to The Running Room for some clothes. I got a baby blue jacket that has silver reflective, a long-sleeve black shirt and pants that are navy with baby blue on them. I thought about getting something to carry water and snacks, but I am not great at drinking while I walk, so I don’t see myself drinking while I run/walk, lol!!

I also talked to the clerk about finding another guide runner. She took down my contact information and said she would put an ad into their next newsletter – Very Cool!!

Just 12 more days before I do my very first, and probably not my last, 10k race – Scary Stuff!!

Adventures in Running: Just the Treadmill for Now

In 16 days, I will do my first 10k race. I am both excited and nervous.

My guide runner is gone for the summer, so we are working on finding another one. In the meantime, I am working on the treadmill.

The last time D and I were out, we went 5k in about 50-55 minutes. We ran a bit faster and maybe even for longer periods of time. She did say that I sprinted up the big hill that often winds me, so that was pretty cool. When she pointed it out, I told her the hill will be done faster if we go up it quicker, lol!! She will be back in September, so we’ll continue running together then.

In the meantime, I have contacted People and Information Network, which is Guelph’s volunteer organization. My friend, Jason, has also contacted the University of Guelph’s cross country coach, so hopefully between the two of us, we’ll find someone soon.

On the treadmill, my workouts continue to get tougher, but I am also progressing.

I am now running for two minutes at 5.5 miles and walking at 3.7, most of the time. In addition, workouts tend to be 40 minutes or more.

I also bought some new running shoes for the race. They are Saucony brand, and are light teal with black and white. I think they will look pretty good with my black Columbia running pants. Now I just need to buy a shirt and jacket, since the race will be in the evening.

Yesterday’s workout was 80 minutes of hills. Every other five minutes, I had to raise the incline. So, I did: level 1, level 2, level 1, level 3, level 1, level 4, level 1, level 5, and then went down again. I was able to go up to level four without a break, but then took a break after levels four and five. I also had to lower my walking speed to 3.5, from 3.7, to do the full five minutes at levels four and five. I was really hot and sweaty, and sleepy when I finished.

Today, I have to walk for an hour and 40 minutes. It isn’t going to be tough, but it will be boring and hot, so I’ll probably wait until Huib is home to talk to me.

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.