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.

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).

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.

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.

Biking

Last fall, Huib bought a bike, and then several months ago, he got an attachment for the dogs. A few weeks ago, he got the bike out and started teaching the dogs to run alongside him.

The first couple times he took them out, it was slightly warm, so he did not take Canyon out as long as the girls. With his seizures, Canyon runs the risk of heat stroke, even when the temperature is just over 20 degrees celsius.

Of the three, Arizona loves it the most. Huib usually goes about four kilometres with her. He says nothing seems to distract her, that no matter what they pass, she just continues going straight ahead. I think she loves the speed.

Canyon only tends to go about 1.5 kilometres. Unlike Arizona, Canyon thinks he needs to pull the bike, so Huib is finding it more difficult to adjust speeds with him. As they work together, he’s getting better, so hopefully he’ll stop being a pain soon.

Rogue usually goes for two kilometres or so. The first few times they were out, she kept pulling further away from the bike. I think she thought it was going to eat her, lol!! The last time they were out, Huib said she did a lot better, so I think he’ll probably start going further with her as well.

Guelph is a very hilly city, so poor Huib is pretty tired once he’s taken the three dogs out. They all seem to really like it though, so I think he’s going to try and get them out at least a few times a week.

Field Class

Arizona had her first field lesson of the season and it went GREAT!!

We have been working all winter on her ‘hold’ and on ‘delivering to hand,’ but we have not done any work with ducks since the fall.

There were about eight dogs, including Arizona and Canyon, who came to class. There were: 2 flat-coated retrievers, 3 duck tolling retrievers, a lab and our 2 golden retrievers.

Canyon was our muscle. We didn’t know how driven Ari would be to retrieve ducks, so we brought Canyon to encourage her. They are very competitive with one another, so he does a great job of motivating her to cooperate.

Since there were several new dogs, Susie had them all start by retrieving a bumper from a short distance. Arizona was all over this!!

The dogs then had to retrieve a bumper from a farther distance. “No problem!” says Ari.

Finally, Susie got out the ducks and had us all practice with our own dog.

I worked with Arizona, while Huib tossed the duck from a variety of distances. Arizona was freaking awesome!! Other than me fumbling and dropping one duck, she handed every single one to me.

After several tosses, we put Ari into her crate and got out Canyon. With his seizures he cannot do any of the water work, so he loves when we let him play.

Unfortunately, he was a bit of a pain in my butt and instead of handing me the duck, he’d come close, then turn and lie down to start mouthing it – bad boy!! I guess we need to work on this.

If this is any indication of how Arizona will do in field this year…I’m getting pretty excited.

Tracking Frustrations

This week we didn’t have obedience because Huib had to work late and I have been dealing with some weather-related migraines.

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This afternoon we had tracking with Laura and others. It was quite a large group: Sandy with Stewart, Mary with Cordelia, Annie with Trixie and Maestro, and then us with Rogue, Arizona and Canyon.

It was a pretty cold day, so Mary brought us all hot chocolate, Sandy brought yummy scones and we brought banana nut bread.

Laura laid tracks for Stewart, Cordelia, Rogue and Arizona before we all arrived, so they would have time to age. She then asked Huib to lay tracks for Trixie and Maestro, while Annie laid a track for Canyon.

Stewart and Cordelia went first. Each of them struggled a bit with their track, but did a good job overall.

Rogue went next. She did a beautiful job on her first leg, but then she got lost on her second and third legs. I’m not sure what messed her up, but it kind of frustrated me. I was probably totally over-thinking things, but I kept wondering if maybe we shouldn’t even consider entering the urban test in April. Laura said the area was quite contaminated and not to worry, and Huib feels the wind might have played a part, but I was still a bit frustrated with Rogue’s work – I’m such a bad handler, I shouldn’t have blamed her for the problems… Rogue did a great job on the rest of her track, so she definitely redeemed herself – good girl!!

I’m still not sure I want to enter the test in April, but I think we have a bit of time to decide.

Arizona was next. She did some great work, but then some not-so-good stuff. She almost missed her first article. Then she got really distracted by a bunch of birds, specifically a fat robin, lol!! I think she also found it tough working close to a fence line.

I’m not sure if it was the cold temperatures or the fact we were working in a school yard, but all of the more advanced dogs seemed to face some challenges today.

Canyon had had a seizure around noon, so we did an easy warm-up track to judge how he was feeling. His last seizure was a mild one on February 3rd. Added to the upcoming snowstorm that is forecasted to hit tomorrow, this is about his regular time for another. His seizure was one of his usual ones, with lots of drooling, muscle tremors, fixed eyes, but totally aware of things around him, and a release of his anal glands. Once it was over, he got up and started begging for my lunch, lol!! The warm-up track went well, so we decided to let him do the one Annie laid.

He found both of the articles and did a great job on the final leg, but he was pretty unsettled. I’m really hoping that as he continues to run tracks, he’ll return to his initial focused working that we witnessed a month ago.

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I’m not sure if it’s related to his unsettled work at tracking, but a couple of hours after we got home, Canyon had a second seizure. This one was short, but about the same intensity as the one earlier in the day. I think it might be the upcoming snowstorm that is causing him problems. I sure know it has been causing me issues, with constant migraines and nausea at times.

For both of our sakes, I hope Mother Nature makes up her mind soon and sticks with some sort of weather for a while before changing again.

Busy Bees

The past two weekends have been good weather-wise, so we have been out tracking at the University of Guelph.

Last weekend Laura laid a really tough track for Rogue. She did an AMAZING job!!

The track was on Johnston Green, where a lot of students cut across to get to the corner of College and Gordon. There were a couple of corners where Rogue had to work harder to locate the track amongst all of the other scents, but she idd it perfectly. She has really improved over the past year.

This weekend’s track was a bit easier, but it still had some places where Rogue needed to work things out. I think the toughest part of her track was having to work through areas of slushy snow and puddles. It got up to about 8 degrees celsius on Saturday, so we had a lot of slush.

I am really glad I bought waterproof shoes last month. They kept my feet warm and dry, while also giving me enough traction to navigate the snow, slush and sections of ice.

Last weekend Arizona’s track was around MacDonald Hall towards the hospitality buildings. Laura and I stayed on the opposite side of the road to watch because Huib and Arizona had to cross the road twice. Arizona did a bang-up job!! Other than a bit of hesitation when she had to cross over the road, she really didn’t struggle at all. I love listening to people describe her working.

This weekend’s track was more about navigating the deeper snow. Laura wanted to see how she’d do with the challenge of finding her scent amongst the snow and other people’s footprints. Huib was able to see the track somewhat, so it gave him an idea of when Ari was checking out a cross track or if she was actually on the track itself. Other than taking the wrong direction near the end, she did great!! Ari had briefly indicated the correct direction, but it was such a fleeting indication, that Huib missed it.

Arizona has only been tracking for a year and she is such a different worker now than she was three months ago.

Last weekend, Canyon did a tough track that included pavement, snow, ice and sculptures. His track went through the sculpture garden at MacDonald Hall. I had to do a lot of encouraging, but he did a pretty good job considering how new all of this is for him.

This weekend, Canyon seemed a bit more unsure than usual. He kept running back to us, so I just encouraged him to continue on. Laura says that this behaviour is pretty common for obedience dogs. Canyon hasn’t really done formal obedience trials, but we have been training for them and he also does other dog events, like conformation, so I think her comment is still valid. She said that a lot of obedience dogs find it tough to work on their own, without constant direction, like they don’t think it’s okay to track.

I think it will just take Canyon some time to realize that it’s okay to work things out and to do things on his own, without any cues from me. Once he gets the idea of it, he’ll really excel!!

It has been really good for me to work with him. He is really a different worker than Rogue. I also find he’s less all over the track, so right now, it’s sometimes a bit easier to read him. This may change as he gets more confident though.

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On Tuesday I had my annual check up with my ophthalmologist. Alain wants to keep a close eye on how my optic nerves are doing, so each appointment begins with an O.C.T. (I just know the ‘O’ stands for optical). The images from the O.C.T. will give him a good idea of what is happening and if anything has changed. He wants to keep this record, so that when stem cell research into optic nerve regeneration progresses far enough, he will attempt it with my worse eye. In my left I really only have light perception, so I wouldn’t lose anything if it didn’t work. From the images he got this year, nothing has changed, so he was happy with the results. I had my pressure in each eye tested, but I didn’t have to have them dilated – YAY!!! My pressures were normal. Alain says he checks pressures because it would be a shame if I lost more vision because of something he could have prevented. He’s a pretty cool guy.

It would be really strange to have my full vision back. I wouldn’t mind having more than I do now, but I don’t know if I would want it all…

Unless I run into any problems, I’m good for another year.

We were going to meet one of my aunts for dinner, so we stuck around London after the appointment.

I needed to get a new CNIB card, since mine expires in March – it’s kind of funny to know that the card expires, it’s not like I’m going to stop being visually impaired. The new card should arrive in about two weeks. I hope the picture is better than my last one.

We went to dinner at Dawghouse with my Aunt Tracey. We haven’t seen her in a while, so it was nice to catch up. The food was great!! I had a vegetable stir fry with spicy teriyaki sauce, while Huib had a turkey club with fries and Aunty had a beef dip with a salad. We had a really large lunch at the Mandarin, so I ended up taking half of my meal home. After dinner we went over to Aunty’s place and they opened their Christmas presents. Last year, we had all planned to do a stocking sort of thing, so Aunty had Huib’s name and Dad had to buy for Aunty. We had an ice storm before our Christmas dinner, so Aunty was not able to make it. Huib got an awesome cushion for his chair at the office or in the car, along with a cute moose toque, a big travel mug and some other things that I cannot remember.

Huib is going to look pretty adorable tracking in his moose toque!!

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Friday was obedience class. Susie was quite impressed with the progress both girls have made.

Arizona and I need to continue working on heeling and sit-stays. I also need to get her used to people walking around her for the “sit for examination,” and making a beep noise when we’re doing the figure eight.

Since I cannot see, the obedience judge will have the ring stewards be the posts, making a “beep, beep…” sound as I approach. Arizona thinks this is pretty exciting at the moment, lol!!

I also need to keep working on ‘leave it’ because she wanted to sniff the floor at times, which really got in the way of my ability to remain in a straight line.

Like us, Rogue and Huib need to continue working on heeling and some stay stuff. She is paying more attention to him, dropping her head less, so that is huge progress!!

I think working with Rogue is good for Huib because it will make him a better trainer. He says that unlike the goldens, Rogue really seems to cue off his body. As a result, he needs to pay close attention to what he’s doing and make sure she knows he’s watching. When he doesn’t pay enough attention to her, she will often start tossing behaviours at him, hoping she’ll give him what he wants and get a reward.

From personally working with Rogue, and listening to them work together, I think the biggest thing he needs to do is talk to her more. I talk to her a lot when we are out walking and also while we’re tracking, so that’s what she is used to. I think she gets distracted or thinks she’s doing something wrong when we don’t communicate with her enough.

Rogue is a sensitive girl, so needs to know she’s doing things correctly. I think this communication is needed most when she’s initially learning things, then he can probably back off a bit.

While the girls were learning, Canyon was visiting his friends Mandi and Maddy. Last time we had obedience class, I left him at home, and he had a seizure. We got home just as it was finishing, but it still made us nervous to leave him again. Dad is usually pretty good at paying attention to him, but I think Canyon must have fallen asleep on the couch upstairs, waiting for us to return. i think the seizure caught him off guard, so he didn’t have enough time to get to Dad. It must have been a pretty mild one because when we arrived, he was still on the couch, laying close to the edge. If it had been a moderate or bad one, then he definitely would have fallen off. His head was up, so it was his usual partial one, but it still worried us. As long as Mandi and family are not busy, they have offered to take him while we are at class each week.

We are SO thankful for these guys!! They are so great with the goldens and amazingly accommodating.

Well, that’s a wrap. As you can see, our week was pretty busy.