What’s Next?

On Monday, it will be nine weeks since I injured my ankle. I still experience some discomfort when in use, but mainly when it’s over-extended. I’m thinking I should be able to start walking in a week and then we’ll see how things progress from there. I still want to do a five kilometre run with my friend Jason at the end of October, but I also want to take it easy, so I do not end up with any long-term side effects.

Since June 24th, I’ve been swimming at least twice a week with Huib. We started out just doing 250 metres, but as of last night we’re up to 600. I swam 600 metres in 55 minutes on Wednesday, and then I did 600 in 50 minutes last night.

I am still having trouble with my leg movements, but my arms are doing better. My breathing is a work-in-progress, but the nose plug is really helping. I’m not stressing out about water up my nose, so I’m able to focus more on turning my head to breathe, instead of raising my head completely out of the water.

Once I am back to running, I will continue to swim as often as possible. Maybe there is a triathlon or something in my future.

There are now canine biathlons taking place in the United States. My friend Jess and I think it would be fun to do one with Arizona and her dog Nala. I’d love to do it with Rogue, but my little fox red lab isn’t a big swimmer.

As long as I take things slow, I think I have a lot of options for new health and adventure goals.

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.

*****

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!!

*****

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.

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.

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.

**********

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.

**********

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: 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!!

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!!

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.

Adventures in Running: Progress

D came around 6:00pm last night, as a break from studying. It had been a day of sun, clouds and sudden downpours, so we had no clue what would happen during our run. Just before 6:00pm it poured, but then quickly cleared up and became sunny, so we were off.

We did a 5 kilometre route. We did our warm-up and then began to run. I felt really heavy on my feet and had some muscle discomfort in my shin region. I had done some stretches before D arrived, but it really didn’t seem to make a difference. Thankfully, the discomfort went away shortly after our second section of running.

Even though I stretch and we always warm-up, I wonder if I need to start doing a short pre-warm-up session on the treadmill as well… I did it once before and the run seemed to go really well, so maybe I should try to do this more regularly…

I think Jason might be right and I just need more time to warm-up.

After the second run, I began to feel lighter on my feet. Our first two runs were surprisingly good distance-wise, but I definitely began to feel better by the third. We walked up each hill (Guelph is a really hilly city), but we ran down one of the smaller hills.

In total, we ran about 200 metres, six different times. This is a really big increase for me!!

I felt really good after the run.

I am worried about the upcoming 10 kilometre race, but it is not for another month and a half.

So for now, I will take Dory’s advice and, “keep on swimming.”