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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

One Step Forward, Ten Steps Back…

This week’s field class was a bit frustrating.

I thought we were past the water issues with Arizona, but I guess I was wrong. She is at it again!!

Our evening began with some land retrieves. Overall, Arizona does really well on land, so I decided to work on doubles. Susie had Laura and Dean do a training double for Air.

She retrieved the first duck perfectly. Then got the next well. But, she had some difficulty understanding there was another to go find. Susie thinks it is because there was no gunshot.

Once we convinced her to look out towards the gunners, Laura made exciting noises and I sent her. It took a bit of searching, but she found the duck and brought it back – Good Girl!!

Susie wants me to stop grabbing her neck and to work on teaching her to put the duck right in my hand, so I’m not searching for her. We have been working on this at home when she carries and retrieves things for us. I think it’s just a matter of time before she figures it out.

Once all of the dogs had done their land retrieves – there were eight in total – we were off to the pond.

Here is Arizona in the field. Huib says the sky was really cool looking, so that’s the main reason he took the picture.

Arizona was the first to attempt a water retrieve. Since she is working on her junior hunter (JH), Susie had her do singles.

The first duck was tossed and I released her. She ran up to the edge of the pond and took a drink. Then decided to just walk along the edge, so Huib went over and spent over a minute convincing her to go in. She finally got in and began swimming towards the decoys. She didn’t see her duck, so I think she thought she could just bring me a decoy instead. They are anchored into the pond, so it was funny to hear her splashing while trying to pull them to shore. After a couple of seconds, I told her to “leave it,” and Dean tossed a rock into the pond near the duck. Ari heard/saw the splash and took off towards her duck. She brought it straight back – Good Girl!!

the second retrieve was similar, but not quite as horrible. Susie had Laura toss the duck into the middle of the pond, so Ari wouldn’t have to swim as far. It took a lot of convincing to get her to jump in, but once she did, she swam right over to the duck and then brought it back.

I really don’t get her hesitation to get into the water. I’m beginning to wonder if extra practice will help, or if it’s just a problem we’ll always encounter from time-to-time.

Hopefully next week will be better.

Mid-Week Update

It’s been a good week so far.

On Monday evening, Huib and I went to Victoria Road for the 9:00pm swim. I felt as though I was swimming on the slower side, but I actually wasn’t. We did 600 metres in 45 minutes!!! This is five minutes faster than I’ve been doing so far.

Tuesday was a much busier day.

In the afternoon, I had a two hour meting at City Hall. I am part of their accessibility advisory committee. We meet every two months to discuss accessibility-related topics from around the city. It was a pretty dry meeting. Some can get a bit controversial, with lots of discussion and debate, but this one was quite tame.

At 6:30pm, Arizona had field class. The weather was not too warm, so we brought Canyon along. When we arrived, no one else was really there yet, so we played a bit of fetch with the goldens, to cut down on their energy.

First, we worked on making sure the dogs entered the water straight ahead of where we sent them and then returned to us. This exercise was done to teach the dogs that they cannot run along the shore in order to find a clear path, they must bust through the weeds to get directly into and out of the water from the spot they are sent. Arizona will sometimes run to a clearer spot before jumping into the water, but she is really good about swimming directly back to me. Some of the other dogs had to be pushed back into the pond when they wanted to get out early.

Next, we went to a pond that has a rocky shore. Susie wanted the dogs to practice setting up and returning to an uneven surface. She had a wooden skid for people to stand on, so I thought I would be safe enough with my ankle, but Ari did not feel secure. I think she worried about getting a paw caught between the boards, so Huib took her onto the rocks to set up. I whistled and called her back, but he did the actual handling. She wasn’t so sure about getting into the water, but once she was in, she swam right to the duck and brought it to Huib. I think she needs more practice in different ponds and on different surfaces.

There was a bit of daylight left, so we did some land retrieves as well. Arizona set up nicely, but when I said “fetch,” she didn’t move, lol!! I had to release her a few times before she went. She retrieved the duck and dropped it just as I was taking it. I tried to get her to take it back and hold it until I asked her to “give,” but she really didn’t want to cooperate. In her defence, the duck was pretty gross!! It was wet and smooshy!! Arizona had the same hesitation when I released her for the second duck.

I was sort of confused about her difficulties on land. Normally her land retrieves are flawless, but Susie is thinking she was unsure of the forest surrounding us. I think other dogs had a similar issue, so maybe she is right. I wonder if this is something we’d actually run into at a test, or if it’s just something to challenge them while training…

This morning, Huib and I woke up at 5:30am to go to the 6:30am swim at Victoria Road. Huib is finding it difficult to get to sleep after our evening swims, so he wants to try out the earlier morning time. I am a bit unsure I like the early wake up, but we’ll see what happens.

Our swim went well. This seems to be a busier time, so we had two other swimmers to watch out for, but they were patient. Huib didn’t get to do a lot of swimming, he spent a lot of his time blocking me from going into the path of other swimmers. I cannot swim in a straight line. I do a lot of zig-zagging, so it can be hard for Huib to keep me out of the way.

I finished my 600 metres in 42 minutes, so I decided to try for another 100. In total, I did 700 metres in 48 minutes – a HUGE improvement from when I started on June 24th!!

This evening, Huib’s work has a staff appreciation picnic thing. If the temperature isn’t too warm, I think I’ll bring Rogue and the two goldens. We tried to buy camping chairs last night at Walmart, but they only had really uncomfortable, expensive ones. Huib went to Canadian Tire this afternoon and found a fun love seat, so I think Rogue is going to be a happy little lab.

Before I sign off, I’ll tell you all about last night’s trip to Walmart. I won’t bore you with the play-by-play of shopping, but I will tell you about the “service dog” we saw. I put ‘service dog’ in quotes because I’m really not sure if it was or wasn’t. We were going to the checkout and heard some growling. Huib looked over and saw a little terrier mix of some sort, wearing a nondescript service dog vest. The woman apologized for her dog’s behaviour, which is great, but what I wasn’t too happy about was the excuse, “my dog normally doesn’t do this.” I’m not saying the person was lying, but I wonder if it’s true. Maybe it is, but maybe it’s more that your dog doesn’t normally see other dogs in public places and you avoid meeting other dogs outside of stores. I am sure some little dogs are great service dogs, but so far the ones I’ve seen are making me wonder how many of them are getting enough training around other dogs, especially larger ones. Rogue is not a big dog, but little dogs still seem intimidated.

While this “little terror,” as Huib nicknamed it, was growling at Rogue, she stood quietly beside me. I knew she noticed it though, because she tried to tell me we should leave, lol!! I guess she thought it would be safer to leave, rather than to wait for our turn to pay, while the dog was still near. Thankfully, the dog and it’s owner left shortly after we got in line. Huib also made sure to keep us a good distance away.

In closing, I really don’t care if people bring their pet dogs into public places, I just expect all dogs, even service dogs, to show some manners. As I said before, I’m not accusing this person of not really having a disability, but from the behaviour of the dog, I think it needs more training before coming back into public.

Field Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fun in the Sun

We had a great Sunday!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ankle Injury Update

Four week post-injury update.

My ankle is improving. I no longer experience any discomfort, unless I have done too much. I stopped icing it around Wednesday. I am still doing my daily range of motion exercises and I am walking indoors with Huib. I walk a bit outdoors, but I try to limit this right now.

On Thursday, while we got our car repairs done, I worked a bit with Rogue indoors. I had her walking slowly, so that I was safe, but it felt good to let her work.

I returned to tracking and field classes. I put my tensor bandage on and wear my hiking boots for extra support. For the most part, I’m doing well, but I do experience some discomfort when working on grass or in the fields, so I try to limit that. When I do notice some lingering pain, I make sure to take the following day off from all activities.

For exercise, I swim at least twice a week.

Our local pool has nightly lane swims, so Huib and I go to the 9:00pm time slot. As of last Thursday, we are up to 475 metres. I am hoping to reach 500 this week.

I am still not an effective swimmer, but I hope that will improve with time. I think the biggest thing holding me back is my dislike of getting water up my nose, so I need to work on breathing at the correct times.

As long as all continues the way it is going, I should be able to start short (about 5 minutes) walks on the treadmill later this week or next. I hope to start at least short fast walks the following week.

It has been a slow healing process, but I don’t want to be dealing with long-term arthritis issues, so I’m trying to be patient and listen to my body.

This Week’s Update

This week has been a bit busier. I am still not doing a lot of walking, and definitely no running, but we have managed to stay pretty busy.

On Sunday, we met up with Laura and Sandy for tracking at the University of Guelph. We haven’t done any tracking since Rogue’s test on the 12th, so the dogs were eager to get back to it.

We started out with Canyon. Huib has been handling him for the past couple of months because he is able to help him along the way. I think the golden boy is finally beginning to understand the point of the exercise. Huib said he did quite well for his level of difficulty – Good boy!!

Arizona was up next. For some reason she is struggling a bit with her focus. Huib has been her handler from day one. He said she seemed to know when she was out of scent, but she stopped a few times and just looked around. It’s like she needs time to think, lol!!

After Stewart (Sandy’s dog) went, it was Rogue’s turn. She was REVVED!!! I am still hurting a bit, so Laura just laid her tracks on hard surface. We had three different short ones. Our focus was on aborted transitions. I want to teach Rogue that her track will not always go from hard to soft or vice versa. I need her to realize that sometimes we will go towards the other surface (pavement to grass, grass to pavement, etc.) and turn before it.

Rogue did a really good job!! On the third track she insisted the track should go onto the grass, but she figured it out after a minute – Good Girl!! I think it really confused her that we never went onto the grass once, so when she got to the middle of the third track, she thought it must go there.

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On Tuesday, we had field class. Since Arizona and Shelby got their WCs on Thursday, we were in charge of bringing treats for the class. Huib asked his former co-worker to make us some field themed cookies – they were freaking awesome!! She made ducks, hunting rifles, duck calls, camouflage hats, orange vests with camouflage t-shirts underneath, gingerbread hunters, and some retrievers. She offers three different flavours, we asked for salted caramel – YUM!!!

This week Susie set up the water and land retrieves like we’ll see at a hunt test. In addition to the dogs needing to go further, they also had duck calls and one gunner was hidden.

Arizona did her first water retrieve really well. She barely hesitated before jumping into the pond. as she swam to the duck, Huib said she looked over at the decoys, but didn’t seem to care about them. When she reached the duck, I blew my whistle and she began to swim back. I repeated my whistle and continued to encourage her from time-to-time. Ari has been really good about not shore-running, so I am really trying to make sure she never starts.

Her second retrieve went a bit rough. It took a lot of convincing to get her into the pond, and then the gunner had to toss another duck because she lost sight of the first. Huib thinks her issue was mainly due to the fact she couldn’t see Laura (the second gunner), and also because there was a fallen branch at the edge of the pond. Once she finally got into the water and was tossed another duck, she swam right to it and brought it back to me.

Susie wants me to work on having her come to the front of me and hand the duck to me, instead of making me find her. Arizona is really good about doing this at home, usually coming and sitting in front of me and not releasing the item until I ask for it, but for some reason, she always seems to walk past me, so I have to search for her head. I am also going to ask her to have the gunners hide for a bit, so Ari will learn that this is something that could happen.

Both of Arizona’s land retrieves went perfectly. It might be because neither gunner was hidden, but you just never know with her.

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On Monday and Thursday evening, Huib and I went to the pool at the Westend Recreation Centre. Our local one doesn’t reopen until today, so we thought we’d try out that one. We did the 9:00pm to 10:00pm lane swim.

On Tuesday, we did five laps. The pool is 25 metres, so each lap was 50, meaning we did a total of 250 metres. We also did a minute of treading water.

My arms were SO tired by the end!!

On Thursday, we did seven and a half laps, which equals 375 metres!!!

I need to work on straightening out my body when I swim, so my back won’t hurt from the poor swimming posture. Huib says I look like I am doing the doggy paddle, lol!!

How embarrassing!!

I took swimming lessons when I was younger, so I remember some of the basics. I need to get comfortable having my face in the water, so my feet will rise and maybe then my arms won’t get as tired either.

Stay tuned…

Working Certificate

SUCCESS!!!

On Thursday evening Arizona earned her WC (working certificate). This is the first of the retriever titles and the very first title our girl has obtained.

We had not planned on entering this test, but over the past couple of weeks Arizona has done really well in the water, so we thought: “why not?”

I am still in recovery mode, so I iced my ankle, put on my tensor bandage and wore my hiking boots for extra protection. I also let Huib walk Arizona up to the blind for me, so that she would not cause me to misstep.

When we got to the test, we were pleasantly surprised to see a few others from our field class, including Susie.

There were 10 dogs, including Arizona, with two of them trying for their WCI (working certificate, intermediate). There was a duck toller, three flat-coats, four labs and two goldens, including Ari.

Since we signed up last minute, Arizona was dog number eight for WC.

Once we registered, we went over to the test area to watch the test dog run the land portion. They have a test dog run, so people know what is expected of their dogs.

While the first five dogs ran the land portion, Huib tried to get Arizona to relieve herself. Once she went, we started to get ready. I got my lanyard and whistle, while Huib sprayed Arizona with her herbal tick spray. When he saw the seventh dog go into the blind, we put Arizona’s slip lead on and started walking towards the test area.

While waiting in the blind, I got Arizona to go over to my right side and switched her lead over to our ready position. I put her lead on in such a way that makes it easy to quickly release her when I’m given the go-ahead by the judge.

When it was our turn, we made our way to the line. Arizona always gets really excited at this point, so often walks on two, rather than four, feet, lol!!

At the line, Huib let me know where I needed to face and I got Ari set up. Once she was positioned, I let the judge know I was ready, and she signalled the first gunner.

As I gave the judge the sign, I also asked Arizona to “Mark,” or to look out because something is about to happen. As soon as she heard the gunshot, I felt her lock on to the target. Once the judge gave me the go-ahead to release her, I let go of the lead with my one hand, which release her and I said “Fetch!!” in an excited tone.

And, she was off!!

She ran straight towards the duck. As she got near, Huib quietly began the countdown, and when she picked it up, he quietly said “now,” and I blew the whistle three times (her recall), said “Good Girl!!, Here…”

Arizona ran straight back to me. Unfortunately, Huib forgot to do his usual countdown to let me know when she is close, so she got past me and I had to reach for her behind me. As I started to take the duck, she released before I had a good grasp, so it landed on the ground. This was fine, as for WC the dogs do not have to deliver to hand, but just bring the duck over the line.

During her second land retrieve, she ran past the duck, so had to do a bit of searching before she found it. Arizona released the duck before I got a good hold of it again, but otherwise, she did well.

After the dogs did their land retrieves, we got back into our vehicles and drove to the water.

Before doing the water portion of the test, we had dinner. The club had hamburgers and sausages for sale with macaroni salad, water or pop and two-bite brownies. We sat with Susie and a few others people from our training class.

As we were eating, the mosquitoes got pretty vicious. Before we watched the test dog run, Huib broke out the OFF repellant and resprayed Ari with her stuff. I don’t normally like using the chemicals, even with us, but the mosquitoes were terrible!!

As the first six dogs ran, Huib tried to relieve Arizona. It took a while, but finally she did both.

While in the blind, I put Arizona on my right again, and changed her lead over to the easy to release position.

When we got up to the water’s edge, which was really squishy, Huib explained where I should try and get Ari looking. He then backed up and I got us positioned.

I then asked her to “Mark” as I gave the judge the go-ahead. I try not to have anyone talk to me from behind while Ari is positioned or she tends to turn around, or at least look the wrong way.

When the judge said I could release Ari, I dropped the lead and said “Fetch!!” in an excited voice. Huib said she ran up to the water’s edge, walked a few steps to either side, as though she was checking to make sure it was safe, and then deciding it was okay, she jumped in.

She swam right to the duck. Huib did his countdown, so I knew exactly when to blow the whistle and praise. As she got closer, Huib counted down, so I could reach out for the duck in time. It worked, she delivered right to hand.

When I sent her for the second duck, she didn’t hesitate at all, she just jumped into the water – GOOD GIRL!!!

When she came back and handed me the duck, I was SO proud of her!!

Back at the car, I gave Ari a big hug and several treats, along with some water.

After the WCI dogs had gone, it was time for the rosettes to be handed out.

When Arizona’s name was called, Huib walked up with us. The judges shook our hands and gave us a brown rosette with gold writing.

Arizona was so excited about her rosette, that she jumped three feet in the air and tried to take it from me, lol!!

It has been an exciting and sometimes frustrating journey, but it has been worth it.

Now onto the next adventure…

More Water

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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