Weather, Ice and Puppy News

It was a good week. Despite the cold temperatures, and unstable weather causing migraines, I got in most of my runs.

On Monday evening, Huib and i went to Victoria Road for their 9pm fitness swim. It wasn’t too busy, but Huib and I both felt slow and blah, so we took it easy. I got in 850 metres and did it in a relatively good amount of time.

Tuesday, M and I got together at 4:30pm at the bus terminal. The sidewalks downtown were not very well cleared, so we took our time walking over to the trail. At the trail, we ran into a bit of snow an dice problems, so we took it easy, running just 30 seconds at a time. About halfway through our route, we saw a number of runners wearing Yak Tracks, so I decided to try mine out. They worked well. I felt more comfortable running on the trail, even when we hit snow and ice.

Unfortunately, running with the Yak Tracks created some muscle discomfort. Not only did my left ankle hurt where I originally injured it, but my calf muscles and my right ankle in the same spot were uncomfortable. As a result, I am hoping to avoid using them again. My calves and right ankle felt better after 24-hours, but it took my left ankle a full week to improve. 🙁

On Wednesday, D and I did our usual 5.2 kilometre route. We want to try and keep track of our pace and where we improve, so I turned on MapMyRun as soon as we got onto the trail.

Sadly, the first 1.5 to 2 kilometres of the trail were covered in chunks of ice and snow, so we had to walk it. We did have a chance to run on the last 3k, so we did it three times. According to the app, we worked at a pace of 10 minutes per kilometre, which isn’t totally accurate with all of the walking we were forced to do, but it’s still an improvement from last year, when I was actually running at that pace on a regular basis.

To get a better measurement, D and I will start turning the app on when we can start running, and then turn it off when we stop.

I am planning to register for the 5k race at Around the Bay in late-March. D, my guide runner from before, has agreed to do the race with me. 🙂

We did not have obedience class on Thursday evening, so Arizona and I worked on things at home. She is really improving.

The temperatures began to rise on Tuesday, and went up to about 5 degrees on Thursday, creating a lot of thawing. Thursday evening, the temperatures started to fall, to the point where stuff began to re-freeze.

Friday, the temperature was about -10 when D and I got together downtown for our run. It was the first time Rogue joined us.

Walking to the bus stop by our house, poor Rogue was being careful, but the sidewalks were covered in smooth, clear, extremely slippery ice. About a metre from our driveway, we both fell on our butts, lol!!! Once we got up, she was even more cautious, as we made our way to the stop.

D met us downtown. The sidewalks were not much better, but we were hopeful, so carefully walked to the trail. The trail was covered in ice!!! We tried to be optimistic, so made our way down the trail, hoping to find a good clear spot to work on, but our hopes were dashed!!!

Jess recommends we cancel our runs when there is ice, as it can be really unsafe, especially since ice is quite difficult to see at times.


On Friday evening, Kelly came with Piper, Ace and Juno. We didn’t do much on Saturday. She went to see friends, while Ace and Juno stayed with me. Juno was quiet and spent most of the time relaxing.

On Sunday, Kelly and I took Arizona, Piper and Juno to an obedience and rally fun match. Huib couldn’t come along, so I was looking forward to seeing how well Ari worked. She was GREAT!!!

We did two modified novice runs. Ari and I still need to work on off-leash heeling, automatic sits and stand-for-exam, so we did not do these parts. Instead, we did heeling on-lead and an off-leash sit-for-exam.

Arizona’s stays are pretty reliable, so during our first run, we did the one minute sit-stay, but I only had her do a two minute down-stay. She broke her down-stay as I went around her, but the person judging, said it was not Ari’s fault, so we put her back in a down and then walked back around, before I released her. During the second run, I had her do the one minute sit-stay, then for the down-stay, I had her do two minutes with me far away, then the final minute with me beside her. I felt she could do the full three minutes, but I didn’t want to push her, so told her she was doing well, but asked her to continue in a down, which she totally did – GOOD GIRL!!!

For the figure eights, we did the smaller one with halts at two different spots. To try and get rid of the lagging she tends to do, I used a treat to ‘drive’ her around the right side post, which seemed to get her moving quicker around the left. I think I’ll continue doing this a bit longer, then start phasing the reward.

Finally, we also did the longer distance recall. She did a good job. We need to work on a ‘front,’ but she came the second I called.

The person judging us, said she gave me good focus and attention throughout our run. I think I might need to find a new trial buddy, since she seems to work better when Huib is not around.


On the breeding front.

Our kennel name was approved by the Canadian Kennel Club. We are officially known as REBELFIRE.


Arizona has an appointment next week with a local reproductive vet, and then we’ll just wait to see when she comes in season. If she follows her usual schedule, she should be in heat during the first week of March.

Huib and I are both excited and nervous about our upcoming journey, but we’ve got some great mentors.

Stay tuned for more breeding updates.


What a week!!!

On Monday, I completed a short treadmill workout. I did a five minute warm-up at 3.1, 30 minutes at 3.6 and a two minute cool down at 3.0. I felt pretty good, especially when I was able to do a full 30 minutes at 3.6.

In the evening, Huib and I went to the 9pm fitness swim at Victoria Road Rec Centre. The weather was icky, so the pool was pretty quiet. As a result, we had the entire lane to ourselves.

I felt a bit sluggish, but pushed myself hard to complete 500 metres in 22 minutes!!! I then did another 700 m, which is 100 m more than I have ever done!!!

On Tuesday, I met up with M and we did a 5k route. The path downtown that we have chosen is quite clear, but only 2.5 kilometres there and back, so we did it twice. We ran for 45 seconds and walked for 60-90 seconds. It took a bit longer to calm my breathing when we went into the wind, but overall, I thought it went well.

On Wednesday evening, I met up with another guide runner for the first time. D mapped out a different trail – I think it’s called the Royal Trail or something similar. To get to know one another, we walked most of the trail. The trail is sort of broken into three different sections, with three railway crossings and a road to navigate. It is pretty well cleared and lit at night, so it was a good spot to work.

Once we got to the end of the trail, we ran and walked to the first railway crossing, then did that section again. On average, we were running for 50 seconds and walking about 60-90 seconds. We crossed over the railway and did a mixture of walking and running. After we crossed the final railway, we did more running and walking. We did the final section two times as well. I’m not really sure how far our route is in total, with all the doubles, but I hope to have D help me measure it tomorrow.

On Thursday, Arizona and I had obedience class with Susie, We worked on heeling, stays and recalls. Ari got a bit confused between her stays and recalls, so we practiced those a bit more. Other than being distracted by Huib, our little girl did well.

On Friday morning, D and I got together at 9:15am downtown. We planned to work on the same trail. D was great, he pushed me in spots and suggested we hold back in others. D ran track and cross country in high school, so has been able to recommend areas for improvement, and I think he’ll be good at pushing me to work harder. On the trail, we ran for about 55 seconds, sometimes a bit longer, and walked for about a minute, or until I could easily talk.

In the evening, Arizona and I took part in an obedience fun match. We did two runs. I think our first run went a bit better than our second, but neither one was too horrible.

On the weekend, Arizona and I did our first official obedience trial.

Saturday, we did two pre-novice runs and passed in both!!! Arizona’s stays were perfect and her recalls were good, but we definitely need to work on her heeling. The primary comment we got on our score sheet, was regarding her lagging and sometimes forging. Huib said she was looking for him a lot, but even when she looked like she wasn’t paying attention, she did what I asked.

On Sunday, we had two more runs. My main goal was to have her sit whenever I asked and to come right to me and sit for the recalls, not just stand near me.

Our first trial was awesome!!! Arizona was looking for Huib, but sat every time I asked and did a beautiful recall – Good Girl!!! She lagged and forged during the heeling patterns, but those are things we can work on.

With this performance, she got a passing score and earned her pre-novice obedience (PCD) title!!!

Our second run did not go as well. Arizona was pretty distracted and I wasn’t as good about keeping an eye on my dog. I was not as comfortable with the judge, so paid more attention to my own movements – Bad Handler!!! Ari did her recall well and had perfect stays, so I was proud of her anyway. If I hadn’t failed my girl, maybe things would have been a lot better.

Susie said we’ll start having Huib in the ring while we work, so Ari will get used to having him nearby. We are hoping this work will help with her distraction a bit. I also need to work on keeping her focus on me, and less on the environment. I’m sure all of this will come with time and practice.

Overall, I thought this was a successful weekend. Not only did we earn a title, but we also got to socialize with some of the golden people we’ve met online. We also got to catch-up with people we haven’t seen in a while. Arizona was very well-behaved, even when she was tired – Good Girl!!!

On a side note, Huib and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary on Sunday as well. We didn’t really do anything special, but did something pretty usual for us, attended the obedience trial, lol!!!

It is hard to believe we’ve already been married for 12 years. It has been quite an amazing ride so far, so I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future.

Hopefully this week is a bit less chaotic,

10 Days In

We are now 10 days into the new year. The temperatures have risen and the weather is a bit wonky, so my migraines have been a constant problem. I am hoping things will even out soon.

On the workout front. I’ve been doing a really good job.

Last week, I did three treadmill workouts. I did one that was about 47 minutes long and focused on inclines. I did a five minute warm-up at 3.1, 40 minutes at 3.3, during which I raised and lowered the incline level every five minutes. It went like this: incline level 1, 2, 1, 3, 1, 4, 1, 3. I then finished off the workout with a two minute cool down at 3.0.

My next workout was 37 minutes. I had a nasty migraine, but felt guilty doing nothing, so once my extra meds kicked in, I did an easy workout. I did a five minute warm-up at 3.1, then 30 minutes at 3.5, with a two minute cool down at 3.0.

Over the weekend, I wanted to work on endurance, so did a 60 minute workout. I did a five minute warm-up at 3.1, then 50 minutes at 3.5 and a five minute cool down at 3.0. I wanted to do the entire workout at incline level two, so started out there, but 10 minutes in, I got a cramp in my lower calf muscles. I didn’t want to give up, so continued to work at incline level two for another 15 minutes, before lowering it to level one. My calf muscle cramp went away five minutes before I switched. The final 35 minutes of the workout was done at incline level one.

I think endurance is going to be the hardest part for me in my training. Often, I get bored or too warm, so want to stop the workout. I have started listening to dog training podcasts while I train, so I am hoping that will help with the boredom. I am thinking about buying a small fan to clip to my treadmill for times when I get too hot.

So far this week, I have swam once and done one treadmill workout.

On Monday evening, Huib and I went to the Victoria Road 9pm fitness swim. I haven’t swam in over a month, so wasn’t sure how it would go. I felt great!!! The pool wasn’t overly busy, so I did 1000 metres!!!

The first 500 m took me 24 minutes, while the second 500 m took me 26. I was really happy with these times.

We plan to swim at least twice a week.

Last night, I did an easy treadmill workout. I did a five minute warm-up at 3.1, 30 minutes at 3.5 and a two minute cool down at 3.0.

I have sent an email to Student Volunteer Connections at the University of Guelph to see if I can put an ad into their newsletter for a guide runner. I would like to start running outdoors again. I haven’t yet tried running on the treadmill, but know I’ll have to do it soon. I just wish I could find a guide runner, so I can avoid treadmill runs. 😉


On the dog training front.

It has been a pretty quiet 10 days. We have done some work on engagement and a bit of obedience work, but nothing too major. Tomorrow, we have our first obedience lesson of 2018. I think Ari and I will practice her stays and recall, then maybe later we can go to TSC or another pet-friendly store to do some heeling.

Huib helped me enter her into an obedience trial happening at the beginning of February in Hamilton. I’ve entered her into four trials, so my goal is to earn passes in at least two of the four trials. I really think we can do this!!!

I need to motivate myself to do more regular training sessions again, so I joined a Facebook group called 28 Days to Awesome Dog Training Habits. We’ll see how it goes.

For readers who are not on Facebook with me, here’s a link to a picture of Arizona holding a root beer cooler. I got her to hold it as sort of a training experience, since it’s cold and I was getting her to do it in a down on her dog bed.

Wrapping Up 2017: Rogue, Canyon & Cessna

Now, onto the other three canines in the ruled by paws crew.

On the service dog front. Rogue has been an amazing little worker. In early April, we went to Banff for a conference. I presented at the International Working Dog Conference, and Rogue was an perfect example of a well-behaved owner-trained dog. I was a bit worried about taking her to Alberta, given their expectation that all service dogs be trained by an organization, but I shouldn’t have worried – we had ABSOLUTELY no issues. I even had a few store clerks compliment me on my little professional.

Our summer was a bit quiet, with me injuring my ankle and being unable to do much walking. Despite the time off, when we went to Victoria in late-November, Rogue was again stellar!!! She was a complete professional, at both the airport and throughout the city itself. Even though it rained a lot, Rogue worked flawlessly. I was a little concerned about the service dog laws in British Columbia, where teams are expected to be ‘certified,’ but I again should not have worried. We did not run into any problems.

In tracking, we progressed in many ways, but title-wise, we were unsuccessful. I entered Rogue in two tests this year. One was in London, in June, while the other was in October. At both tests we ran into problems on the first leg. I was a bit embarrassed by our performance at the October test, where the conditions were beautiful, but Rogue felt we MUST follow a cross-track. In spite of this, I felt we came out of the test with things to work on, so it was definitely worth attending.

Finally, on the obedience front. Huib and Rogue made their obedience debut in late-June, earning her pre-novice (PCD) title in mid-July.

I was SO proud of them!!!

I would like to enter her into both UTD and TDX tests this spring or fall, depending on our schedule. I would absolutely love her to earn at least her UTD in 2018.

Huib hopes to continue with their obedience training, maybe entering a novice test in the fall or winter. Their biggest challenge will be finding the time and motivation to train together.

I love working and training with Rogue, so maybe we’ll see if there’s another performance venue she might enjoy and excel in.

Poor Canyon has sort of been neglected this year. He attends field classes with Arizona from time-to-time, but we haven’t done any real competing in anything since before Ari was with us.

He started tracking training in the spring, and seems to really enjoy it. He can be a bit frantic at times, wanting badly to please us, so we’re teaching him to slow down and focus on the task. He seemed close to being ready to enter a test, but we decided to give him another year to train.

Canyon’s seizures seemed better this year. He has had seven, but he went an entire six months without, so we were quite excited about that. We will continue to follow the zero carb diet started in March, and hopefully his seizures will remain absent for longer periods.

I would really like to continue his tracking training, and maybe have him attempt to earn his TD in the fall.

I would also like to see if there is another performance venue that might interest him, as I feel like he could go further than he has so far.

Our little old lady turned 14 on October 30th. She continues to enjoy short walks with Dad and appears to be interested in what everyone in the house is up to. Her hearing is somewhat gone, but we really can’t tell how much or how little she can hear, as she also enjoys ignoring us, lol!!! Cessna’s vision also seems more limited, so we’ve started leaving lights on overnight, and have put a carpet on the stairs leading into the living room, so she can see/feel the stairs coming. In addition, her incontinence has gotten a bit worse, so she is almost on a full dose of her medication twice a day.

Unfortunately, she appears to have moderate to severe arthritis. She can walk okay, but does stumble on uneven terrain and sometimes finds it tough to jump onto or off of the couch. Added to this, she has a very large lump that has been slowly growing under/sort of behind her left front arm. The vet and us have left it alone, worried it will become a real issue if we disturb it, but I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll need to do something by the summer. It has taken two years or so, for it to get to this point, so maybe we can wait some more.

My poor old girl…

I really don’t have any goals for Cessna, other than to have her continue to live a good quality life. If I need to, I will begin pain medication, but for now, she seems okay with just her golden paste (turmeric) and other supplements.

Tomorrow, I will share my own accomplishments and personal goals for 2018.

Wrapping Up 2017: Arizona

2017 has been a REALLY good year for all of us at ruled by paws. 🙂

Over the next few entries, I will share our 2017 accomplishments, and my goals for each of us in 2018.

Let’s start with the youngest of the crew.

On May 17th, Ari turned three and it was like a light bulb turned on in her head. She really seems to have begun to mature and realize there are times when we need her to be a bit more serious. Her first success came on June 29th, when we entered a retriever test, and Arizona earned her Working Certificate (WC). Then, on September 17th, she earned her first leg towards her junior hunter (JH) title. Despite performing beautiful land retrieves at each of the three tests we entered in September, Arizona struggled with the water, and was only able to successfully complete two water retrieves at her second test.

We’ve made so much progress this year in field, so I know the 2018 season is bound to be great!!!

On the conformation front. We entered Ari into two weekends, August and October, of Grand River Kennel Club United Kennel Club (UKC) shows. In August, Arizona earned a group fourth at her first show, beating more than three other breeds. Then, on October 30th, Ari defeated another female golden, earning a Best of Breed – fishing off her UKC Championship. We still need to get her permanent registration number, so we can obtain the official certificate.

In tracking, Huib and Arizona entered a test in Guelph on November 12th, achieving her Tracking Dog (TD) title.

Finally, 2017 has also been the year of health testing. With the help of Ari’s breeder, we have begun the process of starting our own breeding program. In May, Ari got a ‘normal’ thyroid test result, and in June, she was cleared of any inheritable eye conditions.

She does have a tiny linear cataract, but Dr. Whalen said it was not genetic, and that it’s just one of those times when you say, “shit happens.” Huib and I wonder if maybe it might be related to when she whacked her head around 14 weeks of age. Ari had been trying to jump up onto the table holding the cat food, and when she pushed herself up with her back feet, she fell straight backwards, whacking her head on the tile floor. For about a week or two, she had a huge goose egg on the top of her head. Looking back, I wish we had taken a picture, lol!!!

In October, Arizona got back her genetic test results from Paw Print Genetics. She is clear of everything, but is a carrier for PRA 2. The result was good, but meant that we had to begin looking for a different stud, as the one we had hoped to use, is also a PRA 2 carrier.

In early November, Ari went to the cardiologist for her heart test. He gave her the “all clear.”

Finally, in late November, Ari went for her hip and elbow x-ray. We are still waiting for the results, but we’re hoping for good news.

As you can see, it has been a REALLY good year for UKC CH. Taygold’s Kindred Spirit WC TD.

My Goals for Airy Berry:
On January 21st, I hope to enter an obedience correction match with Air, so we can train in a ‘realistic’ trial setting. If it goes well, I plan to enter another correction match on February 4th, so we can then take part in the trial over the weekend. I would love Arizona to earn her pre-novice obedience (PCD) title in 2018.

If Ari gets positive results back from OFA, regarding her hips and elbows, then we plan to breed her in March. This means she would have puppies in May. 🙂

Assuming Air has puppies, she would be out of commission until July, so we won’t be able to return to field until September.

I would absolutely love it, if Arizona could finish off her JH in 2018.

I’m really not sure she’ll have time to do much tracking training in 2018, so attempting to earn a TDX or UTD might have to wait until 2019.

We have had SO much fun with Arizona in 2017, so we definitely cannot wait to see what next year has in store for our Wild Child!!!

Catching Up

A lot has happened over the past couple of weeks. I was unwell last week, so unable to update the blog.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend Piper came to visit. She has a bit of a shoulder injury, so we weren’t able to play any fetch, but we did go for long walks. To make things less busy, Huib took the goldens for bike rides, then him and I took Piper and Rogue for a walk. Neither Piper or Rogue enjoy the bike, so the arrangement worked well.


On the 15th, Rogue attempted to earn her UTD (urban tracking dog) title. Unfortunately, she got caught up in a cross-track, and was unsuccessful. Our judge, Sharon Smith, was great!! She gave us tons of room to work and fail. After talking to her later on, I felt better knowing there was really nothing I could have done differently to save us.

We are going to do more work on cross-tracks and tracking on soft surfaces. I felt her hard surface tracking was a lot stronger than her soft surface tracking. I think it might be because we worked a lot on hard surface when my ankle was healing.


On the 18th, D came over and we went for a walk/run. I wasn’t feeling perfectly well, so we didn’t do a lot of running, but it felt good to get back into it. We did our 4 kilometre route, running for 20 seconds. four different times, on quieter streets.

My leg muscles were a bit sore the following day, but my ankle felt good.

I still want to get back to the pool, and do some work at the gym on the bike and elliptical, but it was nice to start running again.


Arizona’s test results came back from Paw Print Genetics. She is clear of everything, except PRA 2, which she is a carrier of. This means we cannot use the stud we had hoped to use, so we’re looking at other options.

Now we have to get her heart, hips and elbows cleared.


On Saturday, we met up with Laura and some others to track at Guelph Lake. I had hoped to have all three of the dogs track, but the Grand River Conservation Authority has closed park access to cars, so we weren’t able to find space for many tracks. As a result, only Arizona got a chance to work.

Ari did a fabulous job!!! Even though the track conditions were poor, she worked hard and did not do much ‘crittering.’

Huib has decided to try and enter Arizona into the November 12th TD test.


On Sunday, it was really nice weather, so Susie put on a field session.

Arizona was hesitant about entering the water, so I called her back to set her up again and resend her. She jumped in and went straight for the duck, brought it back and gave it to me. I almost dropped it, but caught it by the foot, lol!! Her second retrieve was perfect.

On land, Susie had us set up things, so the dogs would have to go through a variety of covers.

Canyon joined us, wearing his Ruffwear Swamp Cooler vest to stay cool in the sun.

Huib had him do the first two land retrieves, before I sent Arizona. He was great!!! Even though he ran a bit short of the bird, he searched and located it without any assistance – Good Boy!!

Arizona did two beautiful land retrieves.


Before I sign off, a quick update on Canyon’s seizures.

After seven months and ten days without a seizure, Canyon had a very mild one on Friday evening. I say “very mild” because it really never progressed past the initial tensing of the body. It might have been that Huib got Rescue Remedy into him within a minute of Canyon telling us there’s a problem, or maybe it’s something else, but we were happy with the improvement.

Now we’re hoping for at least month before his next.


It has been 10 days since I last posted an entry.

What have we been up to…?

Rogue got a spot in the October 15th urban tracking test. This will be our fourth attempt at earning her UTD (urban tracking dog) title.

We have been trying to practice every other day. Huib has been laying tracks without treats and without giving me any clues as to where they go. Rogue is doing an amazing job!!

On Monday, she struggled a bit in one area, where there was a sort of hedge, but she figured it out without my assistance. If we had been in a test, the judge would have whistled because we were more than 30 feet off the track, but I still felt good about her work because she figured out where she needed to go.

On the final leg, there were several cars parked over the track, that had not been there when Huib first laid it, so Rogue had to work hard to find her article. It ended up being just under the front wheel of a car. When she found it, she yanked it out and tossed it at Huib, lol!!

On Wednesday, Huib laid a track and then it rained. We weren’t sure how it would go, since there were no treats and we weren’t sure if the rain might wash away the scent. Rogue did it perfectly!!!

She missed one plastic article, and took a few minutes on one spot, but otherwise did her track flawlessly!!

I love working with this girl!! She sometimes becomes uncertain, but she always refuses to give up.


On the workout front.

My ankle is almost totally back to normal. I slightly injured it on Monday, when we were going down a hill while tracking, but the pain only lasted a few minutes. After the tracking incident, we decided to lay low and not go swimming.

On Tuesday, D came and we went for a 4 kilometre walk. I thought my upper leg muscles were going to hurt the following day, but nothing happened. 🙂

D is going to come next week, and we’ll try running a bit – just 10-20 seconds at a time for now.

Rogue has been joining us on the walks. She wears her walking harness that Robin made, so she’s comfortable and I can easily control her movements. She gets a bit excited when we pass other dogs or when she sees cats, but otherwise she’s been great. I think we may continue bringing her for now.

Huib had a pretty busy work week last week, so we haven’t had a chance to swim since before our trip to Ottawa. I hope to return to the pool soon.


Field classes are over for the season. It gets too dark, too soon. so I think we’ll be switching over to obedience. If possible, I’d really like to try for Arizona’s PCD (pre-novice obedience) title before March.

Before I sign off, I wanted to share some good news with everyone. Canyon has not had a seizure since March 12th, which means it’s been over six months!! I wanted to mention this exciting news because this has been the longest period between seizures since about 2014. I know they won’t stay away forever, but I thought we should celebrate anyway. 🙂

And, That’s A Wrap…

On Sunday, Arizona had her final hunt test of 2017, and the result was mixed. On one hand, she did two beautiful land retrieves, but on the other, she had her usual challenges with water. I was happy with her performance, and her water work did not surprise me, but I think Huib was disappointed.

Here’s a picture of Arizona in the field before she does her land retrieves.

*** Note for my blind and visually impaired readers: Arizona is standing in a field with tall grass and stuff around her. She is wearing her black and silver rope slip lead. ***

It has been a really warm week in Ontario. For the most part, we have been dealing with 27-30 degree weather, with the humidity often making it feel close to 40 degrees celsius.

Yesterday was no exception.

We packed the cooler with lots of water, and juice for us, as well as a bag containing the dogs’ Ruffwear Swamp Cooler vests. Huib pre-wet the vests and added some additional water to the bag, so they’d be ready for the dogs to wear. When I purchased the vests a couple years ago, I was sceptical of their effectiveness, but after two weekends of testing, I can honestly say they help.

With Canyon’s seizures, we always worry about him getting too warm, but he enjoys coming with us, so I’m really glad the vests work.

Arizona was dog #8 for juniors. We watched the first five dogs run, and then got her out of the car. I worried about the heat, but she seemed to be unaffected for the most part.

I got her set up in the blind, fixing her leash and getting her excited to go. When our number was called, Huib calmly walked us to the line. I think maybe the heat helped calm her a bit, as she did not try to get to the line on two feet.

Once I was facing the correct direction, Huib backed up and I got Arizona positioned before asking her to “sit.” It took a couple times, but finally, she sat – not sure what was up with that…

I wanted to give Ari a bit to get a good view of the set up. After about 30 or so seconds, I gave the judges the “we’re ready” signal. The judge blew the duck call and the gunner did his thing.

I was a bit worried about how Ari would do with Dean, from our training group, as gunner, but she was fine.

When I got the judge’s signal, I released Arizona. She went towards the duck, then veered off to see Dean, but then searched and found the duck. I whistled and she came charging back. Huib was surprised by how quickly she returned, so was a bit off on his count. As a result, she got a bit past me, but she didn’t drop the bird and I got it. Huib had a similar issue on the second duck, so she got behind me, but I got it and we passed the land portion – GOOD GIRL!!!

Over the winter and spring, I will need to start working on having Ari come to my side and sit before I take the bird. This is part of WCI, and will also help stop the need to search for her when she returns.

By the time we got over to the water, which happens to be the pond we worked in last Sunday, it was extremely hot and there was really no shade anywhere. To keep Rogue and Canyon from getting too warm in the car, Huib put a towel over the windows the sun faced and one of the car mats over the front window. We also put their Swamp Coolers on. I stayed in the air conditioned car with Ari and the others, until it was almost our turn.

When we got into the blind, Huib offered Ari some water while we waited, and I fixed her leash.

When the judges called our number, we slowly walked up to the line. Arizona was a little more excited, so I had to stop every other step in order to remind her to chill, and walk on four feet.

The sun was really bright, so the pond had a lot of reflections. I wanted to give Arizona a good amount of time to look out and see what was happening. I think the judges thought I was ready, so did the duck call a bit earlier than I would have liked, but I don’t think it made a difference. When I got the signal, I released Ari.

She walked about 10 feet into the pond and laid down, then got up and walked da bit further before lying down again. I repeated my command a few times, and it looked like she might actually go, but then I knew it was no use, so called her back in. The judges said I could resend her, so I set her up and when she was looking in the correct direction, I released her. Huib said she started swimming towards the bird, but appeared lost, so the judges asked the gunner to toss a rock in.

I already knew we weren’t going to pass, but I wanted her to have an opportunity to try.

Ari swam to the bird and the judge thought she had it, so told me to whistle and I did. Unfortunately, she was about a foot away, so she missed it, but did turn around and return to me immediately upon hearing the whistle – sort of, good girl!!

If she had known how to ‘cast,’ or follow directions, I could have helped her find the duck, but we haven’t done this yet. This is our winter work.

The judge then suggested we send her for the second bird. I set her up, the judge and gunner did their thing, and then I released her. She immediately jumped into the pond, swam out to the duck and returned – GOOD GIRL!!!

Even though we didn’t earn another JH leg, we learned from the experience. Arizona also showed me consistency on her land retrieves, so maybe with some work, we’ll get there in water.

This year has been a really good one for Arizona in field. She has shown a lot of progress in many areas. Even though she lacks water courage, she has shown a desire to learn, so I will keep showing her how it’s done.

I need to find a way to make her see retrieving the duck, as me needing her to help me out, instead of just something she’s being asked to do for no reason. Arizona loves to carry things for me and deliver stuff from person-to-person in the house, so I think I need to make her think this is what retrieving ducks is all about. She is only three years old, so we’ve got lots of time to figure it out together.

I think we’ve got a few more field group classes left, then we will head indoors and switch over to obedience training.

Much Better

Finally…a good field class!!!

After weeks of problems, Arizona had a great class last night.

Since she has a test this weekend, Susie had us work on exactly what we will need to know for the test.

Arizona laid down at first when I released her to retrieve the first duck, but with a bit of encouragement, she got into the water. Unfortunately, she thought I wanted her to get me a stick, so came back on land with it. I told her, “no, leave it. Fetch!!” and pointed towards the duck. She turned around and got back into the water – Good Girl!!

She is doing really well on her whistle recalls, so I’m trying not to use any verbal. I only talked to her when she was coming out of the water and walking towards me. I wanted to keep her mind on the task, and avoid any detours that might cause her to drop the bird or shake before delivering it. She came right over, gave me the duck and then shook and waited for me to put her leash back on.

Susie asked me to try using a firmer tone when I sent her for the next bird.

I got her set up for the next retrieve, and she did it perfectly!!!

When we were done, Susie said she would like me to continue working on the tone of my commands. She feels it will help Arizona get the picture, if I start using firmer cues, and not so happy or questioning ones. Huib says he will help me.

I think my hearing issues are part of why I cannot recognize the tones I’m using when giving my commands. I didn’t actually realize that some of my verbal cues sound a bit more like questions – OOPS!!!

For land, I asked if we could work on having Arizona run past the gunner. She cues off the gunners, so has been struggling with finding the duck when it is tossed behind them.

The first bird was tossed, so that Ari had to run past the gunner to find it. When I released her, she went over to say hi to the gunner, and then went to find the duck. Sometimes she forgets where the bird landed, after her greeting, so I was a bit worried she’d run into difficulties. She remembered and brought it right back to me – GOOD GIRL!!!

The second duck was tossed using a winger, so she didn’t find it as tough to locate. Ari still thought she needed to greet Laura, who was controlling the winger, but she thankfully found the duck and brought it back.

With her successful land retrieves and the second water retrieve working out well, I felt a lot more comfortable about our upcoming test.

I think Huib and I are going to do some work in the park tomorrow, so I can practice using a firm tone of voice.

Please cross your fingers and paws for a positive test result. Even if we just earn one leg, I’ll feel okay about the weekend. If Arizona still has problems on the weekend, then we probably won’t enter the Muskoka hunt test on the 24th.

Field, Field, and More Field

Lots of field adventures.

On Sunday, Huib and I took Arizona, Rogue and Canyon to Susie’s to get some extra water and land work in.

Canyon cannot go swimming, as he gets hotspots. Also, with his seizures, it’s just safer to not swim. Therefore, I used Rogue for competitive motivation.

We started out by attaching Arizona to a tree, while Huib tossed bumpers into the pond for Rogue. My little red lab isn’t a big swimmer, so she wore her life jacket and had a blast running around. She is not very good about bringing the bumper right back to us, but she at least brought it part way onto the shore.

While Rogue was running in and out of the pond, Arizona barked and whined. We tossed three bumpers for Rogue, before we had the girls switch places.

Arizona did a beautiful job of marking, retrieving the bumper and then bringing it to me. I really don’t understand why she doesn’t show us this same enthusiasm at field class.

While Ari was doing her retrieves, Rogue barked and whined and moaned and groaned. For a dog who doesn’t enjoy being wet, she sure wanted to get back to the water in a hurry!!!

As Ari was about to go for her fourth bumper, Rogue escaped the leash and began running around like a goofball!!

Huib got her, put a carabeaner on her life jacket, and reattached her to the leash. She had pulled so hard, that the ring came off the back of her jacket.

Once Rogue was secured to the tree, we got back to retrieves. Huib had us setup in different spots around the pond, while he tossed the bumper from different distances. Arizona did a fabulous job!!!

Once Ari gave me her eighth bumper, we switched the girls. Rogue was pretty excited, so it took a few seconds for her to sit and pay attention to what I wanted. She sort of retrieved and brought back the first bumper, but then she ran around the pond like a wild dog, dropping the bumper in the weeds on her way around, so we let Ari off the leash to help us out.

She ran right over to the bumper and brought it over to Huib to toss again – GOOD GIRL!!!

Next, we did some land work with Canyon as the motivator.

We put Rogue in the car and tied Arizona to a tree to watch.

Canyon is a HUGE fan of retrieving ducks. He sat beside me, marked the spot and then went for the bird when I released him. On his way back, he stopped a foot in front of me, and laid down to check out ‘his’ duck a bit better – BAD BOY!!!

I got the duck back and set him up for another retrieve. I really need to work on having him hand the bird to me, as he enjoys ‘checking’ it out.

After retrieving three ducks, he went into the car and it was Arizona’s turn.

We have noticed an issue with her not running far enough, so Huib wanted to practice tossing the duck behind him. The first bird was tossed in front of him. When I released her, she went straight to the bird and brought it to me.

Huib tossed the second duck just past where he was standing, so she needed to run past him. Ari had trouble. She doesn’t realize she needs to run past the gunner sometimes.

Huib also noticed that she had some trouble with ducks who did not go high in the air. Luckily, this problem isn’t a big deal because it’s not something she really needs to understand.

Overall, I think our independent training session went well. Rogue was good entertainment and Canyon was his usual steady self, but Arizona was quite good, especially in the water.


On Tuesday, we had our regular field class. I had to go to Georgina Island to get my status card renewed, so we also dropped in to see my Aunt Dawn for lunch. As a result, we were late getting to class. Fortunately, no one else had come, so Susie and Laura were just chatting when we arrived.

Unfortunately, it was close to 7:20pm, so we weren’t able to get a lot of work in. After explaining the work we did over the weekend, Susie suggested we do some land work.

The first bumper tossed was an easy one, so Arizona quickly got it and brought it back to me. The next one was thrown by Susie, who is one of Ari’s favourite people, so she got pretty distracted. As a result, she forgot where the bumper had landed, so Huib had to go out and direct her to pick it up.

Susie didn’t want to reward her for the poor results, so she had us all walk to a different spot in the field and set up again.

Arizona did a good job on two of the three retrieves, but struggled with the one that she had to run past the gunner to find. Whenever she can’t figure something out, she runs back to us, so Huib usually meets her halfway and they go find it together. Laura worries that Ari is beginning to think she’ll always have Huib to help her, so doesn’t see the reason why she needs to work through the problem on her own. I’m sort of with Laura, Ari is highly intelligent, so why put in the effort if you can do it easier with help? The issue we face is figuring out how to stop the behaviour, while also having her trust that we will be there when she really needs us. I also don’t know how we’re going to convince her to keep working, when she just returns to me and sits until she’s directed to do something.

Arizona is sure keeping us on our toes.

The last three retrieves were so-so. The first one was pretty good, but the last two were both okay and not-so-okay.

Arizona is really good about letting us know when she’s tired and when she no longer wants to do something. No matter what we’re doing, if she’s tired, she gets very uncooperative.

We had had a really long day, without much of an opportunity for her to nap, so it’s sort of not surprising that she didn’t want to retrieve eight bumpers.

When I released her to go for the seventh, she just laid down in front of me, lol!! Huib had to run out to the bumper with her, where she then proceeded to pick it up and run back to me – sort of good girl.

The final bumper was retrieved similarly. The only difference was that she also took a break in the middle of the field, lol!!

I really shouldn’t laugh about her being so lazy, but sometimes you can’t avoid laughing or you’ll just end up crying.

Arizona can be so frustrating and entertaining at the same time.


On Wednesday, we joined a field training group. We’ve met some of the people at tracking group, so it was neat to see them in a different setting.

Susie and Laura wanted to do a drill with Arizona to teach her that the duck will not always be thrown in front of the gunner. They ended up doing the same drill with all of the other dogs in the group.

Arizona did well with the bumpers that were tossed in spots that she is used to, but she struggled with the ones that went past the gunner. I really hope she figures this problem out before the 16th.

She also got tired of retrieving bumpers after the fourth. I think she might have also been a bit warm, but she still needs to learn not to give up.

Susie says she lacks drive. This is something you really can’t teach her to have, so we’re just going to have to teach her how to get past it. I think we need to find a way of making the work extremely rewarding to her. She is starting to push further in tracking, so maybe it’s just something she’ll figure out with time in field.

We could use an e-collar or train a force fetch, but we don’t want to do this. Both Huib and I don’t feel it’s that important to us, to feel as though we need to resort to non-positive training methods or tools.

When it came to water time, Arizona hesitated some, but she wasn’t as horrible as she can be.

There are some handling things I need to work on, so I won’t be touching her more than needed, but most of the work we need to do before the 16th surrounds water.

Arizona has really improved this year, compared to last, so even if we don’t end up earning her JH this fall, I know it’ll happen next year. She is no longer refusing to pick up any sort of duck and she’s always handing the bird to me, so we just need to work beyond the water and minor land retrieve issues.

Please keep your fingers and toes crossed for us. Just over a week before she begins to try for her JH (junior hunter).