Celebrating a Birthday

Today, the oldest member of our crew has a birthday.

HAPPY 14TH BIRTHDAY CESSNA!!!

You were an amazing partner, keeping me safe for 8 years as my guide dog. Now that you are retired, you no longer want to come on as many road trips, but you continue to keep us company at home. Thank you for all that you have done, and for all that you continue to do.

I shared a couple new Cessna pictures on Facebook. You can find them here. One is a front view and the other is a side view, so that she could show off her new collar. It is a teal nylon flat collar with a navy blue and white paisley design in the middle.

I know I say this all of the time, but it is hard to believe Cessna is already 14. Time sure flies!!!

It was hard to decide on a good birthday gift for my old girl. Cessna doesn’t really play much, and she already has a nice braided leather leash and a warm winter coat, so I chose a fancy new collar and a package of soft, beef flavoured Merrick treats.

Cessna, over the past twelve and a half years, we have had a lot of wonderful adventures together. I hope we have a chance to create some more memories.

Please help me wish my little partner a very HAPPY 14TH BIRTHDAY!!!

A New Title

I posted this on Facebook and Twitter, but for those who do not follow me there…

Arizona got Best of Breed at the Grand River Kennel Club’s UKC conformation show on Saturday morning.

With this win, she has finished her conformation title!!!

We were so proud of her. Not only did she finish her title, but Ari also earned her first win against another golden. Normally, she is the only golden entered, so has earned her wins at the group level. This made the win extra special for us.

Arizona has really matured since her first UKC show at a year of age. Huib says she now stacks on her own and seems to understand her job in the ring. He isn’t sure she loves it, so we probably won’t make her enter anymore, but we are proud of her efforts. She is such a good sport!!!

Huib said that Ari might have been able to earn a group placement, but that she didn’t really react much to the judge’s efforts to animate her. I guess she thought it was her job to be more serious, and didn’t really appreciate his attempt to distract her, lol!!

After the show, we took her for a celebratory Whopper. In this picture, Arizona is eating the top half of her burger, while the rest waits in the wrapper.

A conformation title isn’t too important to most performance people, but we didn’t have a chance to obtain Arizona’s CCA, or Certificate of Conformation Assessment, so we’re hoping prospective puppy buyers will see the title as proof of good structure. UKC judges seem to focus on a dog’s structure and movement, more than their looks, so I really think this title is a pretty great achievement for Ari.

Until next time, stay safe and have fun!!

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.

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.

Good Weekend

This weekend was a busy and exciting one for us.

On Friday, Arizona started her heat cycle. Canyon really doesn’t care, so for now they are free together, but not outside unless Huib or Dad are with them. On the 24th or so, Canyon will start getting whiny and clingy, so we’re hoping our friends will be able to take him for a week. It’s easier on him and less work for us when he’s elsewhere during the more fertile period of Arizona’s cycle.

We are in the process of doing her health clearances, so she can hopefully be bred in March when she is in heat again. We had an OFA thyroid panel done in May and all came back normal. This month Paw Print Genetics has a 50% off sale, so we’re going to order the general golden retriever panel, which covers all of the common issues goldens can get. I am also hoping to take her in to have her eyes checked. Once those are all done, we just have her heart, elbows and hips to do, which we’ll have done in October or November. There is a debate about whether the heat cycle affects hip and elbow scores, so we’ll wait a few months just to make sure it isn’t a factor. In the meantime, Huib and I have to think of a kennel name and apply to have it registered. It takes about four months for that to happen, so we really have to get a move on it.

*****

On Saturday, Huib and Rogue went to an obedience trial in London. They had a really good outing. Rogue earned two more legs to finish off her pre-novice obedience (PCD) title. Huib reported that in their first run, he forgot to keep his hands at his sides, but everything else was great!! The second run took place a couple hours later and it had been a really long day, so Rogue was tired. She did an awesome job in all exercises, but did not want to sit during the halts. This was not a huge deal, but it’s something we’ll have to work on.

Here’s a picture of Rogue with her purple and white rosette.

I am SO proud of them!!

*****

On Sunday afternoon, Huib and I went to the Westend Rec Centre to swim. The first 20-30 minutes was spent on leg movements. Huib walked along beside me while I held onto the kick board and just focused on the scissor kick. Once I felt comfortable, I started putting my face in the water and tried to work on breathing. During the last half hour, we put the board away and I swam. I worked on swimming with my face in the water. I need to practice turning my face to breathe instead of lifting my head, so I do not stop moving whenever I go to breathe, but otherwise I was doing quite well.

On Thursday, Huib timed me and it took me a minute and 12 seconds to swim 25 metres. On Sunday, I was swimming 25 metres in 45 seconds!!! Huib said he was having trouble staying ahead of me, lol!!

Stay tuned for more swimming updates…

Sunday evening, Huib and I got together with Laura to track. I want to enter Rogue in a US tracking test in the fall, so we introduced ‘scent articles.’ Laura laid a regular Canadian urban track, while Huib laid two small tracks with the scent articles.

We started with the two short tracks. I used the same verbal cues that I give for tracking, and Rogue was perfect!! It will be interesting to see how she does on longer tracks, but I don’t really see her having a big issue. Rogue really seems to know what she is doing when I put her tracking gear on and give her the cues.

Once Rogue finished her American-style tracks, Huib did a track with Canyon and then one with Arizona.

Canyon did well. Huib says he searches a bit wide, but appears to know his job. I look forward to working with him.

Arizona had a bit of a tough track. While we were waiting for them to age a bit, a guy had his dog running around, creating cross tracks for her. Overall, I thought she did really good job. She almost missed one article, but did the rest of the track quite well. I think her distracted days are almost behind us.

We finished off with a longer track for Rogue. Before we started, there was a dog running all over hers, eating some of the food drops, so that created some confusion at times, but she worked through it. She overshot one turn by probably 30 feet or so, but she figured it out and worked her way back to the turn without any direction from us – Good Girl!! Other than those minor things, Rogue tracked like a pro. I love working with this girl!!

I am really looking forward to the fall when the dogs will have a chance to try for their respective tracking titles. No matter what the outcome of the tests, we’re all guaranteed to have a good time.

Facebook: Attentive Students

I still can’t figure out the Instagram app, so I am trying out another option for sharing my pictures. I will set pictures that I want to share to public, so I think everyone should be able to view them.

Here, you will find pictures of Arizona and Rogue from obedience class.

In the first picture, they are waiting for class to begin. In the second, they are wondering why class has started without them. In that picture, I am in the obedience ring with Susie. She is teaching me the different exercises I will need to perform with Arizona.

Please let me know if this is not a good picture sharing option and I will try something else.