Junior Hunter

Last weekend was the Labrador Owners Club hunt test. We entered Arizona in junior hunter both days.

It was HOT!!!

On Saturday, Arizona was dog number 13, so we had a lot of time to wait around. We set up our spot in the shade, and waited.

When it was our turn, we walked over to the first holding blind. I crouched down to Ari’s level and just talked to her and pet her whole body. I was hoping it would calm my nerves, and help her chill out. It really seemed to work. 🙂

When we got to the second holding blind, I switched Ari’s lead, so it would be easy to release her when the time came.

Our number was called, I took a deep breath, asked Ari if she was ready, and we walked up to the line.

I got her to sit, and asked her to “mark.” When the judge gave us the okay, I told her to “fetch!!!”

She was off. She ran over to the gunner, said hi, then checked out the pail and began to search for her duck. After a few seconds, she located it, so I blew my whistle three times. Ari came right to me, so I took the bird and then got her set up for the next retrieve.

Her second land retrieve went similar, so i won’t run through it.

For the most part, other than sometimes running a bit short of the bird, Ari is pretty reliable on the land retrieves.

When we got back to the car, I gave her some water and Huib got out her Ruffwear Swamp Cooler vest. I wanted to make sure she stayed cool between runs. Once she wasn’t panting as hard, we got out her frozen treat, a JW dumbbell filled with Fromm wet food. We didn’t have any ground beef, so we used some of Cessna’s canned stuff.

When it was Arizona’s turn to run the water retrieve, I did the same process in each of the holding blinds.

At the line, we waited for the okay. When I released her, she walked into the water, laid down and then got up to walk a bit more.

I calmly waited, but repeated my “fetch” command a couple more times.

When she didn’t go, I called her back. She came, so I set her up, and the second I felt her head turn towards where I heard the bird fall, I said “fetch!!!”

And…she was off!!!

Ari swam straight to the bird and came right back to me.

When I sent her for the next one, she didn’t hestitate, just jumped right in.

When she handed me the second bird, I told her she was a very good girl, and we walked back to the car.

Our land retrieves were great, but our first water one was sure a nail-biter!!!

But, she passed!!!

On Sunday, Arizona was dog number 17, so we had a long time to wait around.

The land retrieves were done in a field where the grass was a lot higher, so it was sometimes tougher for the dogs to see.

Arizona did both retrieves beautifully!!! She was fast and flashy. It was cool to see her do this, since she was working where she trains.

While waiting for the water retrieves, we gave her water, put her Swamp Cooler on, and gave her the frozen dumbbell with wet food inside. We aren’t sure why, but she had some diarrhea while we waited. I was a bit worried about her having an issue during the test itself, but her bowel cooperated.

When we got to the first holding blind, they had a kiddie pool set up for the dogs to play in, as it was CRAZY HOT!!! Ari got in and laid there for probably half of the time we waited.

When we got to the second holding blind, I switched her lead to the easy release position. I also talked to her and tried to get her excited about the water.

At the line, I set her up and waited for the okay from the judge.

When I released her, she walked up to the water, laid down, and got up again. I repeated my “fetch” command a few more times, until she finally got in.

She swam over to the bird, and needed to be reminded to stay straight when she came back. I have really tried to teach her that cheating, or land running, is not allowed. For the most part, she is really good about swimming straight there and back.

Huib felt it was better to move to a different spot for the second retrieve, so we did. I really think we probably should have stayed there, as Ari did her usual hesitation. I wonder if she would have done a splashing entry, if we had released her from the same spot.

No matter what, she did it, and PASSED!!!

With these two passes, Arizona finished her junior hunter (JH) title.

Now we need to start working on doubles, walking up to the line off leash, and honouring. While we do this, we’ll start teaching Ari to follow directionals.

I would really like to try for her working certificate, intermediate (WCI) in the fall.

Away Awhile

Boy, it’s been a while since I last blogged.

The tracking and field seasons have started.

In field, Arizona has finally, possibly, overcome the water issue that has been plaguing us for more than two years!!! We have been training for about four weeks now, and she has not refused to enter once – Good Girl!!!

In addition to our usual Tuesday classes, we have started taking Ari to Sunday sessions in Wyebridge. We can’t do it every week, as Huib sometimes needs to work, but we try to go as often as possible. I think it might be helping her, as she’s working around different people and a variety of dogs.

This weekend, we have entered two junior hunt tests. I would love to finish her title, but I’d be satisfied with even just one good quality pass.

If Ari continues to work well in the water, I would really like to have her do her WC (working certificate) in the US, as well as earn her WCI (working certificate, intermediate) here in Canada.

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On the tracking side of things.

All three dogs are facing challenges, but they still seem to enjoy themselves and don’t give up.

With Rogue, we are going to take a step back, and try tightening up her searching and get her to be more persuasive when she knows she’s right. At times, Rogue goes back and forth in a very wide pattern across the track, making it easy for her to miss an article or possibly even a turn. In addition, at times, she is not a confident dog, so I need to work on this. I need her to feel confident enough in tracking, that when she feels she knows we are going one way, versus another, then she needs to put a good amount of pressure on the line, so know what she is telling me. Sometimes, when she is not completely sure, her indications will be difficult for me to read, so I need this to change. Since we will not be entering any tests until the fall, Laura is going to work with us to fill in these gaps we’ve found.

With Arizona. Now that she has her TD, we are introducing hard surface and other urban features. So far, she is doing well, but finds contamination difficult to work with.

Finally, with Canyon. Huib is seeing improvement, but he is still a bit frantic or overly excited. With lots of practice and repetition, I think he’ll be ready to enter a test in the fall.

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Usually in the spring we stop obedience classes, but this year we have decided to continue. Ari is doing well. We are working on fronts, stands and automatic sits when I halt. Her stays are great, and her heeling on leash is coming along. I think our obedience work will help us in the next levels of hunt and field, as she will need to start working off leash when coming to line and honouring while the next dog does their first retrieve.

*****

On the breeding front. It sadly appears as though the breeding did not take. 🙁

We did an ultrasound on day 30, and the vet did not see any puppies. Ari seems to show some signs of possible pregnancy, but not enough to be able to say yes or no.

We are leaning towards no though.

We will retry in early December, when Ari comes in heat again. If that breeding is successful, her puppies will be born on, or near, our 13th wedding anniversary, which I think is pretty cool!!!

Stay tuned.

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On the personal fitness front.

I had to buy new jeans a month ago, as mine are getting to be way too big. I am now wearing a size 10-12 in jeans, which is pretty darn exciting!!!

I haven’t been swimming too often over the past couple of months, but I have been walking lots and running when I can get out with my guide. Now that the Cessna stress has calmed down for the time being, I hope to return to regular swimming.

To keep Ari fit for future puppies, we have been taking her for brisk walks that tend to be over five kilometres long. She usually goes biking that distance, but since we weren’t sure if she was pregnant, we didn’t want to have her biking.

I entered a 5k race for June 24th, and I am still considering one on the 21st. I just need to get in some more runs, or I don’t think I’ll be ready to run an entire race…

The temperatures are getting warmer, so my body needs to adjust to that as well.

Before I go, here’s a quick update on Cessna and Canyon.

In my last post, I told everyone about how Cessna’s having some health issues. We have chosen to go with palliative care, as opposed to trying to fix things.

Cessna has been taking 100mg of Gabapentin twice a day, along with Metacam in the morning. She also gets her thyroid medication twice a day and a hormone every few days for her incontinence. We had hoped to only use the hormone once a week, but she seems to need it every three days. For her UTI, we have been giving her colloidal silver three times a day. We will be taking in a urine sample tomorrow, to see if the infection has cleared after three weeks of taking the CS.

Cessna has good days and not so good ones. On her good days, Dad takes her for short walks in the park, where she likes to sniff and run around a bit. On her not-so-good days, we keep her safe and comfortable. For now, her bad days aren’t too bad, they just aren’t ones where she should be going to the park. On the bad days, her hind end gives out more and she is more wobbly on her feet.

As for Canyon and his seizures. He has not had one since April 12th, so we have kept him on the same dose of CBD oil, 6.6mg twice a day. This weekend will be a bit of a test, as we need to leave him home with Rogue, while we take Arizona to her hunt tests. Canyon often gets anxious when we are gone for long periods of time, but we’re hoping the CBD will keep the seizures at bay.

I hope everyone is having a great spring. I will try and write more, especially since we’re getting busier with training.

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.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Update

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.

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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.

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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.

Hunt Test Success

It was a good hunt test weekend.

On Saturday, Arizona did two beautiful land retrieves. Huib said she ran out and ran back faster than she has done before. He thought she looked quite flashy!!

Over lunch, we met some people and got to reconnect with others from last year.

While waiting for Air’s turn in the water, Huib and I met a woman who has an 18 month old female golden, whose sire is the male we are considering for Arizona in March. Shelby is a very nice looking girl, who loves the water and to retrieve.

After meeting her, and Anne’s Teal, we are really hoping Arizona is found clear for ichthyosis, so she can be bred with Kip.

When it was Arizona’s turn for water, I got her set up and ready to go. The judge did their duck call, the gunner did theirs and then shot the gun as they tossed the duck into the pond. Once the judge said “dog,” I released her.

She ran 10 feet into the pond and laid down. I told her “fetch,” and she walked a couple more feet before lying down again. She then got up and walked along the water a bit, looking around. At this point, I knew we were done, which was confirmed when the judge suggested I call her back and resend. He felt it would be good to get something out of the opportunity.

I’m not sure why, but it took a bit to get her to return to my side. Once she did, the judge asked the gunner to do the duck call again, so I could resend and Ari would know where to go. She jumped into the water and began to swim towards the bird.

The duck was about 70 or so feet away, and she had to swim through a channel to get there. In training, we have never done channels or retrieves this far, so when Ari got through the narrowing, she lost sight of the bird. The gunner tossed a rock into the pond and she swam over to the bird, returning it back to me.

I don’t think the distance was an issue, but we will definitely need to work on swimming through channels.

Huib also says I need to work on my tone of voice more. He thought I sounded a bit too suggestive when asking Arizona to come back to me. He doesn’t think it would have made a big difference in the results, but maybe there’s a 20-30 percent chance things could have turned out better.

Even though we were unsuccessful, I learned some things we need to work on, so the trip was definitely worthwhile.

On Sunday, Arizona did two beautiful land retrieves – GOOD GIRL!!!

Huib overheard one of the judges saying they liked her look, so that was pretty neat. Another cool thing about the judges, was that one is the breeder of Kip.

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As a side note, when the day was over, I got a chance to talk to her about potentially using him, and she said that he would bring some good things to Arizona’s puppies.

I am getting pretty excited about breeding her, but then I’m also really nervous.

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As we were walking back to the car, a few other handlers complimented me on Arizona. I think she’s a pretty fun dog to work with, but she can also be really frustrating. 🙂

While the other dogs had their turn, I sat with some of the handlers and we chatted about… dogs. 😉

Arizona stayed with us, so that she wouldn’t bark and bother the other dogs as they worked. She was pretty good about lying beside me, but after a while got bored and whined. At one point, a dog in the senior hunt group walked by and tried to start an argument. Huib was holding Arizona’s leash at the time and said she did nothing, just moved a bit when the dog got really in her face – GOOD GIRL!!!

After lunch, we all went to see where we’d be working for water. I was a bit nervous about the fact we would be using a different pond, but I also knew I couldn’t control the situation, so just needed to stay calm.

When it was Ari’s turn, we walked up to the shore and got set up. The judge and gunner did their thing, but the bird did not make much of a splash. At first, the judges felt it might be okay, so gave me the signal to release her. I did and she walked about 10 feet in and laid down. As she was lying down, the judges had decided to call it a “no bird,” because they thought it was unfair to make a junior dog work without a splash, as it wouldn’t give them enough of a visual. They asked me to call her in and got another dog to come and retrieve the bird.

We returned to the blind and waited to be called back to the line.

When it was our turn, I got her set up, and released her when I got the sign.

She ran right into the water and jumped in – YAY!!! She swam directly to the bird and then came right back and gave it to me. I did the same thing with the second bird and she handed it directly to me -GOOD GIRL!!!

Arizona isn’t a fast or flashy swimmer, but she can get the job done.

As a result of her work, she PASSED, earning her first JH leg.

Here’s a picture of her and I posing with her rosette.

For my blind readers: I’m wearing a black long-sleeved shirt, black pants, grey shoes with pink laces, black Oakley sunglasses and my black hat that has CESSNA written in yellow. I think the rosette is green and brown, but I could be wrong. We’re in front of a rock. I’m kneeling with her sitting in front of me.

Oh yeah, as we were about to leave, the club members remembered that they still needed to do the draws for the 50/50 draw and the gift basket. They asked me to pick a ticket first and I picked out my own ticket. Then, they asked another person to pick a ticket, and he picked me again, lol!!!

Who knows how we’ll do, but as long as nothing comes up, we’re going to enter her into another hunt test on Sunday. It’s at the same location, so I’m hoping she’ll do okay. The owner of the place seems really friendly, so I may ask if we can take her for a short dunk in the pond during lunch, see if we can overcome the initial need to lie down.

In the meantime, it’s going to be a busy week for us. Tonight, we’ll go swimming at 9pm. Tomorrow, Arizona has field class, and afterwards, D and I are going to go for a walk. On Wednesday, I’m going to attend the first day of the Canadian General Standards Board’s Service Dog Committee meeting over the phone. At night, we’re off to Ottawa until Saturday morning, so I can attend the other two days in-person. Saturday, we’ll go tracking with our friend Michelle and her English Springer, Cameron, before heading home.

Until next time, stay safe and have fun!!!

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).

Quiet Week

It has been a pretty quiet week. A nice break before we start our jam-packed September.

On Monday, we went to Victoria Road for their 9pm swim. I felt sluggish and sort of non-floaty. It didn’t seem to impact my speed though, as I swam 500 m in 29 minutes, and then did another 200 m in 14.

I think I need to stop drinking XL coffees before I go swimming. I always seem to feel heavy afterwards, even though I make sure I have it an hour or so before.

My 10 year old navy blue Roots bathing suit has been officially laid to rest in our garbage bin. 😉

It has been looking a bit tired, with the elastic disintegrating, but I thought it would last a bit longer. When I wore it, Huib noticed some balling and a bit of separating of materials, so it’s gone. 🙁

On Sunday, Huib, Rogue and I went to the Cambridge Centre to shop for a new bathing suit. The Bay had a sale on their Roots and Speedo suits, so I was hoping to find one I liked. The Sears in the mall is one of the closing locations, so a lot of their stuff is on sale. Huib and I decided to look there first, just in case we could find something cheap.

We didn’t find any bathing suits, but we did buy some blank cards with beagle puppies on them. Huib also bought me a sterling silver ring that has intertwining hearts on it. I am not a huge jewellery person, but I like it!! I only tend to wear my wedding ring and some diamond studs, so it will take a bit of time to get used to the second ring. I also used to wear a necklace with my engagement charm and promise ring on it, but my last one broke, so I haven’t had a chance to replace the necklace.

At The Bay, we found several bathing suits that interested me. After trying a few on, we settled on two. One was a navy blue Roots one and the other was a black Speedo with teal straps.

Even though the Speedo was in the same size as the Roots one, it was on the tight side. 🙁 From talking to a friend who buys a lot of bathing suits, I learned that Speedos tend to be sized smaller, so it’s really not uncommon to need a larger size than usual. She said that it’s a good brand for swimming in pools because it will last better in the chlorine.

After talking to the store clerk, we learned that we could order the Speedo in a larger size, so I ordered it. It should arrive some time next week.

While I wait for my new Speedo to be delivered, I will wear my teal Roots one. It is also close to 10 years old, but not quite as old as my navy one. The elastic is disintegrating a bit, but it will be okay as a back-up until I get a new one to replace it.

On Wednesday, we tried to wake up for the 6:30am swim. When I went to let the dogs out and then returned, Huib had rolled over and returned to snoring, lol!! I think we’re going to give up on the early morning swim times, as we really don’t seem to ever make it, and then I have trouble going back to sleep.

We went to the 9pm swim. I felt less sluggish, but still did not feel as though I swam as smoothly. I guess I was wrong though, as I did 500 m in 28 minutes!!! That’s a whole minute faster than my best time so far!!! I then did another 200 m in 14 minutes.

For now, we are just keeping track of the first 500 m. Once I can swim 500 m in 20 minutes, then I will add to the distance we track.

Huib says one day when it isn’t as busy at the pool, I should try swimming 1000 m. He feels I can do it easily, if I slow down a bit.

My nose plug snapped, so I had to purchase a new one. I got a wire one this time, as my plastic one did not last very long. Huib also bought some goggles, so the chlorine won’t bother his eyes so much. It will be easier for him to watch me, while he swims on his stomach. So far, he’s been sticking to his back, so that he can watch me, but that position really tires out his legs and arms.

We tried to go swimming last night, but the Westend pool is under renovations until October. Huib didn’t notice any posters announcing the closure when we were there last week, so we were surprised. It means I will have to do the 50 m swims at Victoria Road on Thursdays for now.

**********

Tuesday’s field class was pretty good. We started out with land retrieves.

Arizona’s first retrieve went well, but then she had some difficulty with the second. The duck was down in a bit of a valley, so when she ran out, she went a bit short and then couldn’t figure it out, so ran back towards me. Huib met her halfway, and helped her figure out where the duck was located. I think the next time this happens, she will not have as much of a problem finding the bird. Huib says that in addition to the bird being down in a bit of a valley, it was also up wind, so she didn’t catch the scent. I think her tracking work will help her overcome the scent issue. It will just take some time and experience.

She did well on her final land retrieve.

Over to the water…

Arizona did not want to go into the pond at first, so taking a bit of a gamble, Huib picked her up and tossed her in. He had to do it twice, but it worked. She swam over to the decoys and thought about grabbing one, so I quickly told her to “leave it,” and she continued onto the bird.

I say, “he took a bit of a gamble,” because Arizona can be sensitive about some things, so you never know how she’s going to react. If things had gone wrong, she could have ended up refusing to enter the water completely, and gotten nervous around us.

Ari’s second retrieve went well. she barely hesitated, before jumping in to get the duck.

I worked really hard on not touching her neck to find her mouth. Arizona did a great job of handing the bird right to me. We will continue to work on this at home.

In order to get in some extra training before our three junior hunt tests, we’re taking Ari to work at Susie’s over the weekend. She won’t be available to work with us, but I’m hoping the extra swimming time will make things less worrisome for her. I think I may also bring Rogue along to provide some competitive pressure. Even though my little red lab doesn’t enjoy swimming, she will do it with her life jacket on.

On Wednesday, we’re also going to join another field group. It will be interesting to see who trains with Susie at other times of the week. I am also thinking it will be good for Arizona to work around some other dogs and people, but who knows, maybe she already knows everyone. 😉

Back in August, we signed up for two courses through the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Sadly, we haven’t had a lot of time to work on the courses. One of the courses is a gun dog one that focuses on water training. I thought I would read through the lectures and forums, to see if maybe there were some suggestions on how to work past a dog’s lack of confidence in the water.

I didn’t see any solutions for our particular problem, but I did read about some things to train that might help.

First, the instructor says everyone should teach a “go swim” cue. I guess it can be used to stop dogs from going to the shore to soon, and can also be used to get them jumping in. I’m just not sure how to incorporate the cue into our current release cue, so it won’t be a problem at tests. I’m thinking you can probably not say: “Go Swim… Fetch!!” I would assume that to be not allowed, but maybe I’m wrong. I wonder if it will be enough to just say, “Arizona, Fetch!!,” in an excited voice…

I guess we can try it out on Sunday.

The other thing I read about, was teaching hazards. Training dogs to be comfortable walking on, jumping over, sitting on, etc., all surfaces and stuff. So, I’m wondering if this might be our answer.

I am thinking we might have neglected to train her to be comfortable walking, running, jumping or sitting on enough surfaces, textures or objects… I think we just assumed she’d be okay because she appears extremely brave and curious.

We have a bit of time to try and catch-up her hazard training. Maybe it’s time to make a list of the things she should work around before the 16th.

Just over 14 days before Ari tries to earn the first two legs towards her JH.