A Mix of Human and Canine

What’s new here? I’ve got a mix of stuff to mention, both human and canine.

You would think I’d learn to stay away from nuts, after my horrible gastrointestinal experience before Christmas, but I guess I’m a slow learner. Back in November or December, Huib and I made a trail mix of: almonds, cashews, peanuts, Craisins, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and peanut M & M’s. After eating almost half a large container over a few days, my system revolted. I honestly felt like I was dying from the inside out. After almost a week of problems, slowly improving as it went, I felt better.

I decided to stay away from the trail mix for a few weeks.

I then got out a tiny snack container and filled it with the mix, thinking it would be okay if I had just a tiny bit throughout the day. I did this about three times, leaving a day between, before my system said “STOP!!!”

You would think I’d learn, right?

Well, I didn’t…

I kind of forgot about the trail mix for a while. but remembered it a couple weeks ago. With my past gastrointestinal problems in mind, I thought I’d try just having a small amount, ignoring the seeds all-together. I had probably five cashews, a couple almonds and about seven peanut M & M’s. I thought it would be okay, but I was sadly mistaken!!!

On Monday, the second day of my system issues, I felt blah most of the day, but finally began to improve around late afternoon. Thinking it had been a while since I worked out, I decided to do a 30 minute treadmill walk at 3.5. My calf muscles were a little unhappy, but overall, it went well. At 9pm, Huib and I decided to head to the pool for a swim. I did 1000 m.

On Tuesday, M and I met for a run at 8:30am. We measured our final 2.2k loop using MapMyRun, and we did about a kilometre every 10 minutes. This is about the same pace as I was running last May, so I’m not too upset with the time.

At 2:00pm, we took Arizona to a new vet for a repro consult. Dr. Jones is a great dane breeder, who also feeds a prey model raw diet, so in addition to talking about what gets need to be done before breeding, we were able to discuss Ari’s diet. Other than adding 1mg of folic acid, just for prevention, she said to keep everything else the same. 🙂

Dr. Jones examined Ari and said she looks to be close to starting her heat cycle. This is about when we were guessing it would begin, so looks like she is on schedule. Once it starts, we’ll count to day seven and then take her in for her first progesterone and a brucellosis test.

Slowly, we are getting people on our waiting list, so it’s beginning to feel seriously real.

Huib signed me up for the Around the Bay 5k race on March 25th. With the iffy weather over the past couple months, I haven’t gotten as far as I had wanted, but I still think the race will go better than my Ottawa 10k last May. I have just under three weeks until the race, so I am going to work hard, and see if maybe I can get a time closer to eight minutes a kilometre. Even if I need to walk from time-to-time, I would like the majority of the route to be done at a run/jog.

*** My fingers are crossed for more favourable weather until at least the day after the race, so i can get some good outdoor training in. ***

On Friday, d and I got together at 4:30pm for a run. We walked to the trail and then across the street to the second part (about a half kilometre) before beginning a slow warm-up jog. He is trying to help me learn how to warm-up at a faster pace than just a brisk walk.

Once we crossed the third set of railway tracks, which meant we were on the third section of the trail, I turned on MapMyRun.

We tried to keep running the same distance, at a consistent pace, and then briskly walk for no more than 45 seconds. According to the app, we did about 3.2k in 28 minutes, with each kilometre taking around 8.5 minutes.

If I can brush off that 30 seconds and run at a consistent pace throughout the race on March 25th, then I will be extremely happy with my performance.

Yesterday, I did a 58 minute treadmill workout that focused on inclines. I did a five minute warm-up at 3.1, and was feeling good, so turned the speed up to 3.5, thinking I’d be able to do the inclines there.

I was a little to eager…

By the end of five minutes at incline level two, my calf muscles were very sore, so after five minutes at the usual incline (level one), I turned the pace down to 3.3.

My workout went, level 1, 2, 1, 3, 1, 4, 1, 3, 1, 2.

My calf muscles were feeling fine after I got through incline four, so I turned the speed back up to 3.5 and finished the rest of it. I completed the workout with a three minute cool down at 3.0.

At 9pm, Huib and I went to Victoria Road for our usual swim. The clock at the pool wasn’t working, so we weren’t able to time my first 500 m.

It was busy for most of our time in the pool, so I was sadly not able to work on rolling to the side to breathe. I am still stopping and raising my head to breathe, which often makes me turn and also makes me lose momentum. I did work on my push-offs from the wall, Huib showed me how to better hold my arms/hands, so I become more aerodynamic.

In total, I did 1050 metres!!! My arms were a bit sore the first 200, but after that, I felt good. I think I could have probably done another 100 or so, but we ran out of time.

Today, M and I ran at 8:30am. We did our usual route with Rogue, encountering only one other dog near the end. Usually, we see at least a few. The woman asked if my dog was friendly, and I said “yes,” but kept Rogue’s attention on me, just in case the other dog was not. When the woman saw me using a treat to keep her attention, she said “oh, you’re training her.” I guess she thought I was using the treat to train, and didn’t realize I was using it to keep her face close to my side, and out of the reach of the other dog. After we were far enough away, M said she thinks it might have been the dog who barked in Rogue’s face a few weeks ago, lol!!!

Rogue wears a casual harness and, right now a winter coat, not her working harness, when we’re running, so people can’t tell she’s a service dog – which is part of why I’m so cautious about what dogs say hello.

Our route is about 4.5 kilometres, which usually take about an hour. Today, we made it back to the bus terminal within an hour, making it to an earlier bus than usual, so we’re guessing our run was faster. It was really windy, especially on the second half of each loop, so I felt as though I might have been slower, but I guess I was wrong.

My legs and calves felt good today, but with the wind, I had more trouble catching my breath between runs. I’m hoping that I will some day figure out how to more effectively breathe while running.

About a month ago, we started Cessna and Canyon on cannabis oil from a place called Farmacy in Victoria, BC. Cessna is taking it for arthritis, while Canyon is using it for his epilepsy. I have slowly raised their dose, and they have been taking about 0.2ml twice a day, which for their bottle equals about 6.6mg of CBD twice a day. We had two bad weather weeks, and even though Canyon tends to have seizures during such weeks, he made it through without one!!! Maybe it was a fluke, but it’s been over a month since his last, so the weather issues would have normally caused him to have a seizure, especially with him being so close to his usual schedule. I will keep updating everyone from time-to-time on how it’s going.

It’s been a week since Arizona’s repro vet consult, and still no heat cycle, so I’m guessing it’ll start any day now. It’s when you want it to start, that they take their time, lol!!!

Weather, Ice and Puppy News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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On the breeding front.

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

Or, REBELFIRE GOLDENS

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

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

Stay tuned for more breeding updates.

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.

Ottawa

This weekend Huib and I headed to Ottawa with Rogue, Canyon and Arizona. Cessna doesn’t like long car trips, so she stayed home with Dad. I think she enjoys her park trips and Tim Hortons’ drive-thru adventures.

Our friend Jess is moving to Victoria, so we wanted to go spend time with her before she goes. Her parents are helping her pack up her apartment, so we stayed with our friend Jason. He has a nice apartment in a really cool area.

The traffic was busy at times, so we didn’t arrive in the city until about 6:00pm. Once the dogs were settled and our bags were out of the car, Jason made us dinner. The rest of the evening was spent chatting, which was quite relaxing.

On Saturday, Jess had a going-away party. I enjoyed meeting her co-workers, friends and the triathlon guides that I had not yet met. The food was also pretty good. 😉 With our three dogs, there were eight dogs in attendance. Jess had her three and then her two friends had their dogs as well. Other than some minor growling when Arizona got too close to a little dog that wasn’t Jess’, the dogs all got along well.

After most of the party attendees left, we went into the living room to enjoy some music. Jason and Peter, Jess’ friend, both played the guitar, while Jess and some others sang along. I think the best part of the whole night was when Jess’ Dad suggested we make up a song – it was hilarious!! I am not very good about making things up on the spot, so my verse wasn’t great, but we all laughed anyway.

On Sunday, Jason went to help Jess’ parents move her stuff out, while she worked. We went to track with our friend, Michelle.

Huib and Michelle laid the tracks, while I hung out with the dogs. Huib laid tracks for Cameron and Canyon, while Michelle laid one for Rogue and Arizona.

Canyon is really coming along with his tracking. Huib thinks that by the end of August, I should be able to take over as his handler. He laid three separate tracks for him, so that they could work on different things within each. Before Canyon got a chance to run them, two different dogs went all over them, so I’m sure most of the treats were missing. Despite the added cross-tracks, he did a really good job!! Huib put a squeaky tennis ball in the glove on the final track, so Canyon could have an exciting reward when he finished.

Similar to last week, Arizona did a nice job. She laid in the shade at a couple of spots, but otherwise I don’t think she ran into any major issues. Ari doesn’t really like the heat, so I think we need to start bringing water on the tracks, instead of just giving it to them at the car.

Rogue hasn’t done a long track in a while, so Michelle laid an awesome one for her. There were three articles and a number of different turns. I didn’t have to help her at all, but I did have to encourage her to keep going near the end. I really should have brought water for her, but I didn’t think she’d need it – Bad Handler!! The first leg or two were in really soggy grass, so Rogue had to work with wet paws, something she hates. We also tracked beside a ditch and then between two culverts. I was VERY proud of my little girl!!

Once everyone finished their track, Michelle did a little drill with Rogue and I. She showed me how to teach Rogue to move in more of a straight line, especially after finding an article. The track always goes straight after an article, so it’s good to reinforce this point with the dogs. I am going to work on this because I find Rogue sometimes porters (goes back and forth over the track) a bit more than I’d like.

After tracking, we said goodbye to Jason and Jess’ parents before heading home. The traffic was really busy in spots, so I’m glad we didn’t end up staying for dinner.

When we got back, Cessna was REALLY excited to see us. I was a bit worried about her because she was limping. Huib thinks it might just be that Dad took her for too many walks while we were away. Her back left leg seems to be the problem. Huib was able to move her leg without her saying anything, so we’ll see how it is on Tuesday. Cessna takes medication for incontinence that conflicts with many anti-inflammatories, so I will need to talk to Bianca if the limp persists. Even if she feels better tomorrow, I will make her relax. She will be sad not to have a walk, but I want her physically healthy before she goes out again.

We had a really good weekend, but I am sure glad to be home.

More Field

Sorry for the lack of entries, but life got a bit busy.

Field class continues to be going well for Arizona. Other than some minor issues during an indoor class, she has been rocking the retrieves.

We have had a lot of rain, so a few weeks ago, we had an indoor class. There were about six dogs present. Susie had us begin by walking our dogs around the room at the same time. Ari was really excited at first, but after a couple of laps, she calmed down and I had her walking really nicely. She had no problems passing the flat-coats or the lab, but every time we passed a toller, she wanted to play, lol!!

After a bit, we were each given a couple of bumpers to practice the retrieve and ‘hold’ with our dogs. Arizona was really distracted at first, but then became unsure. There were some dogs barking and some owners being a bit more firm with their dogs, so I think it made her nervous.

After talking to a couple of other friends who use mainly positive reinforcement with their dogs, I think her reaction was a side effect of our training choices. All of us have noticed similar behaviours in our dogs, they all seem a bit more sensitive to seeing or hearing other dogs disciplined. It’s not that we do not discipline our dogs, it’s that we do it in a less harsh manner.

Once we figured out she was nervous, we stoped trying to get her to take the bumper, and just sat on the floor with her, letting her observe everyone else. After about 15 minutes, I did some level 1 behaviours with her, to get her back “into the game,” and offered the bumper. She took it!!

Susie then had us all line up and send our dogs one at a time to retrieve a duck. Arizona was great!!

Arizona is fine at shows and other dog events, so we aren’t sure if it would be worthwhile signing her up for an actual indoor group class, but we are considering it.

The temperatures continue to be on the cooler side, so we haven’t been able to do any water work yet. Arizona is rocking the land retrieves though.

While we wait for things to warm up, I am working on lengthening her ‘hold,’ and making sure she gets an opportunity to retrieve a variety of ducks. This week, she retrieved two very smelly, squishy ducks. I so badly wanted to refuse to take them, but obviously I had to pretend she was giving me the best gift ever, lol!!

If she continues to retrieve like this, then I think we are going to have a really good field season.

Gun Dog Foundations: Whistle Problems

Last week our Gun Dog Foundations 1 class began. We had a pretty busy weekend, so other than reading the lecture material and checking out the forums, I didn’t do any actual work.

I had Huib read the material and watch the videos before we started.

Once we get the clicker out, the dogs know something exciting is happening, so it’s kind of a pain to get them to go down into the living room, so we can work with them one at a time.

Arizona was first.

The first lesson talked about the importance of engagement, so I began our session playing with Arizona. She loved it!! She really enjoys interacting with me, so I think I will try and remember to incorporate this into our classes in the summer, where her distraction level rises.

Once she was fully engaged, I started to work on a ‘whistle-sit.’ I blew once on the whistle and quickly said “sit.” The minute she sat, Huib clicked and tossed a toy for her to chase and bring back to us. We did this a few times, until I no longer needed to say “sit.”

Arizona was beginning to learn this in the summer, but we never really did much work on it.

To take a bit of a break, we moved on to the ‘whistle-recall.’ Huib held her, I blew the whistle three times and said “here” in a very excited voice. Arizona ran over, I petted her and I dropped kibbles at my feet. We did this a couple times before I dropped the verbal cue all-together.

We use the whistle-recall a lot in field, so Arizona’s pretty good there.

Huib suggested we do some more sits, but try to get some distance. She kept coming really close, so Huib attached a leash to the staircase rail, so she wouldn’t be able to move. Starting a foot away, I blew the whistle once and said “sit.” She did nothing, so Huib finally lured her into position, clicked and rewarded her.

We continued to have similar issues, as well as problems with her going into a down. I stopped using the whistle and just worked on showing her she can sit while on a leash attached to something. It’s like she thought that being tethered to something meant she had to be in a down position.

Next it was Rogue’s turn.

I blew the whistle once and said “sit.” She just stood there. I tried again, but got the same result. Huib said it looked as though she was nervous. We think the whistle might hurt her ears and remind her too much of the smoke detector, which scares her.

I’m hoping she will be okay with the whistle outdoors, or I am not sure how we’ll do any field.

To get her back “in “the game,” I ran through Sue Ailsby’s level 1 behaviours. Rogue knows these well and loves ‘touch,’ so I think the exercise helped destress her.

Once she was back to herself, I did some distance work. I’d ask her to “sit” and quickly walk away while I did it. Huib clicked anytime she sat and I was at least a metre away, then I’d toss a treat for her. We did this several times and she steadily progressed.

Since I couldn’t do the whistle-recalls with her, I did some retrieve and ‘hold’ work with her using the bumper. The last class we took that used shaping to teach a retrieve, really helped because she has a nice quiet hold now. We just need to work on moving around with items and on getting them and passing them over.

I am hoping to do some work with the girls outdoors next time, so I can see if Rogue is okay with the whistle outside.

If anyone can suggest a substitute for the whistle, in order to also work indoors with Rogue, that would be awesome!!

Obedience with the Youngsters

It’s been a while, but we’ve finally returned to obedience class.

I would really like to try and earn the Pre-Novice Obedience (PCD) title this spring with Arizona.

If I can teach her consistent heeling and at least a one minute (30 seconds is actually required, but I’m thinking I should account for time needed to return and getting the leash back on) sit-stay, then we’ll be ready to trial.

Ari reliably performs a 25-second sit-stay at home. I need to extend this time, while also adding distractions and working outside the house.

As for heeling, it’s really a work-in-progress. She can do it when we’re at home, but add any sort of distraction in and she’s done.

From reading the CKC obedience rules, it looks like Arizona needs to earn three qualifying scores before she’ll get the PCD title.

Arizona absolutely LOVES Susie, so I didn’t expect great work. And, she didn’t let me down… She did her usual screeching and bouncing around, lol!! Once she’d efficiently greeted Susie, I took her into the training ring and began running through Sue Ailsby’s level 1 behaviours – sit, down, touch, ‘leave it.’ When we begin training sessions at home, I do this, and I think it helps to get her into “the game.”

Unfortunately, I’m not sure Susie was a big fan of the work we’ve been doing. Her biggest concern was with the way I tossed treats after clicking. For me, when I click, the behaviour is over and the dogs can go get their reward. I feel tossing the treat helps reset them because they have to come back and get into position again in order to receive a click/treat. Susie doesn’t want me tossing treats because she bellies it is not promoting a bond with me, and she thinks it will just encourage scavenging. I don’t agree with her assessment, but I will follow her request when we’re in her presence.

Susie and I use the clicker in similar, but different ways. When I click, the dogs know the behaviour is over, so they can move and go get their treat. For Susie, the click means you’re doing it right, but it doesn’t mean you’re done.

I’m going to stop using the clicker when I am with her, just using a verbal “good” or “yes” instead.

I want the dogs to continue seeing the click as an end to the behaviour and a time for reward.

I am leaving Canyon out of obedience classes for now. I need to work out some problems we’re having with the sit-stay.

Last week, we started our Sensational Stays class through the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, so I’m really hoping his issues will iron themselves out.

Rogue is coming to class with Huib. I wanted to do obedience with her, but she gets confused when I ask her to heel because I also require her to ‘leash-guide’ from time-to-time. As a result, Huib has offered to work with her and together they will try for the PCD.

From listening to the comments he received in class, I think the first goal for him will be to develop a working relationship with her.

Once Rogue knows that she needs to pay attention to him, I think the rest of the requirements will fall into place quickly.

Rogue already knows how to work. She just needs to realize that I’m not the only one who might ask her to perform cues.

Thankfully our next class isn’t for about 10 days because we’ve got lots of work to do.

Final Week

This is the final week of our, Shaping a Competition Retrieve, class through the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Even though we have been working through the lessons regularly over the past six weeks, we still have a ways to go. I am glad we’ll have access to the course materials for at least a year.

Rogue has progressed from spitting out any object I give her, to calmly holding an obedience dumbbell for at least three seconds.

I will continue extending the amount of time before I mark the behaviour, while also beginning to apply a bit of pressure. By gently pulling on the dumbbell, gradually increasing the pressure, Rogue will learn to hold it firmly until I ask her to release.

Arizona has been retrieving a number of objects for over a year now, but her ’hold’ has greatly improved. She drops things less often and she’s begun to wait for the cue before releasing.

She is also learning some patience and problem solving skills. Shaping is a fun way to train because the dog has to think and you really get to see how their brain works.

Canyon can retrieve some objects, specifically toys, but he is not great about holding or releasing. He has not progressed as far as the girls in this class, but I think it’s partly because he’s not a great ‘shaping’ dog. If he can’t figure out what I want easily, then he gets frustrated and just lies down to wait for further directions.

I really have to think outside of the box with him.

The next session of Fenzi courses begins on February 1st. This time we are going to sign up for two classes: Gun Dog Foundations 1 and Sensational Stays.

Gun Dog Foundations will help us in field. I have always stood firm on wanting to use only positive methods, so this class is exactly what I have been looking for.

Sensational Stays will not only help us in obedience, but also in field because the dogs will learn that stays are fun, or at least I hope they will 🙂

I hope everyone is having a good 2017 so far.

Where Have we Been…

I know, I know, it has been a while since I last posted an entry. I really want to get back into regular blogging, but I am having trouble coming up with things to say.

My Web Wizard cannot seem to figure out how to fix the issue with me not being able to post pictures here, so I am going to try and use Instagram and share the link – it might take a bit though, the iPhone app is pretty confusing with a screen reader.

What’s been new with the ruled by paws crew?

As mentioned in my last entry, Rogue was attempted to earn her UTD (urban tracking dog) and TDX (tracking dog excellent) titles.

Unfortunately, 2016 was just not our year for tracking.

She did a really good job at her UTD test, but missed the first article – a knitted mitten. I saw some great work though. It was a pretty rough track and she wasn’t working in the most optimal conditions.

I’m not sure if I have mentioned it here before, but Rogue absolutely hates being wet. This makes it pretty difficult to work with her at times. She will do absolutely everything possible to avoid puddles, even stopping dead in her tracks, refusing to move until i force her to continue.

So, when we got to the test and it was not looking like the rain would stop before her turn, I took a deep breath and crossed my fingers.

We walked up to the ‘scent pad,’ I asked her to “Check it out.” She sniffed the area thoroughly, probably hoping for even a tiny treat. Then, when I felt she was pointed in the right direction, I said “Find.” She took off and we followed. The first half or so of her track was covered, I mean covered, in goose poop. I had to constantly ask her to “Leave it.” Despite the distraction, she followed her track quite well. There were a few spots where she had to work a bit harder to find the track, such as at corners, but I felt she did a good job overall. When we were nearing the last corner, the judge came up to us to say we were welcome to finish, but that she had missed the first article, so she would not be getting her title. We were sad, but we felt she needed to finish, so she would be able to feel as though she had done what I asked.

In early November, Arizona attempted to earn her TD, while Rogue tried for her TDX – neither were successful. When Arizona had her turn, she did the first 30 metres well, but then got distracted by the cow manure in the field. Even though Huib tried to refocus her, she continued to go back to the different piles she found, and even did some rolling. We are hoping with some time and maturity, she’ll be able to try again.

Rogue had a pretty tough track. Laura, our instructor, said the judge was a bit sad to see which track we were assigned. Rogue approached the scent pad, figured out which direction the track went, and then did about the first quarter to a third really well. She got stuck when we were supposed to turn into a field of corn stalks. The corn had been harvested, so the stalks were about ankle high. From her behaviour at that spot, I think she knew we had to turn, but felt it was too dangerous for me. If we had to fail, I’m glad to be able to say that we failed because she felt she had a guiding responsibility. I am going to work with her throughout the spring and summer to teach her that it is Huib’s responsibility to keep me safe when she is on the tracking line, and that she is only expected to follow the scent.

On November 17th I had my convocation. Huib went with Rogue and I. He walked with me in the procession with the other students, but when it was time for me to go up onto the stage and receive my degree, Huib walked me to the stairs and then ran to the other side to meet back up with us. Rogue did a great job of listening to my directions, so I think we probably looked pretty smooth walking across the stage together.

The rest of 2016 was pretty uneventful. I had a good birthday at the end of November and Christmas was quiet, but nice.

We had some friends and family come over on Boxing Day for dinner, but otherwise we didn’t do much.

Goals for 2017?

Most of my goals for this year surround the dogs and performance events.

I want to continue taking classes through Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. I took an obedience foundations class in October and right now we’re doing a competition retrieve class using shaping. I found the obedience class a bit lacking, but we’re enjoying the retrieve class.

I have tried to teach Rogue how to retrieve for a while, but this class has helped her progress further than I was ever able to do so on my own.

Arizona has been able to retrieve things for more than a year, but I find the class is tightening up her ‘hold,’ which will help us in field.

I also want to continue working through Sue Ailsby’s Levels Training Program. I have been casually doing them for a long time, but I never really started with Arizona.

In an effort to improve our obedience lessons with Susie, I decided to restart the Levels with Rogue and Canyon, while also working on them with Arizona. We have been doing short sessions, three times a week, for about two months now and I am seeing huge progress.

All three dogs are working on level 2. Each one is at a different point with the 14 different behaviours found in the level. Canyon tends to lag behind the girls a bit, while Arizona shines in some areas and Rogue in others. It has been a good experience for us all and I hope to continue this through the year.

Performance wise?

I want to enter Rogue in another TDX and UTD test. I also want to try field with her.

With Canyon, I would like to return to conformation, maybe even showing him myself. I would also like to do some tracking and enter an obedience trial with him.

I hope to continue doing field with Arizona, trying for both her WC and JH this year. I would have liked to also try for her WCI, but I need to make sure she has a really solid ‘stay.’ Arizona has progressed a lot in her levels work with me, so maybe we can try entering an obedience trial in the spring. Huib wants to track with her some more, maybe trying for her TD in the fall because the summer months are way too warm for her.

A personal goal?

I want to earn my PhD. The application is due in mid-February, so I’m going to start working on that this week.

To try and improve my chances of getting accepted to a PhD program, I am submitting abstracts to different conferences. So far, I have been accepted to present at the International Working dog Conference in April being held in Banff.

I also want to continue working on improving my physical health. I started walking on the treadmill three times a week, so I want to continue doing this, see how it goes and where it takes me.

The ruled by paws crew would like to wish our readers a safe and happy new year!!