Mid-Week Update

It’s been a good week so far.

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

Tuesday was a much busier day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s Next?

On Monday, it will be nine weeks since I injured my ankle. I still experience some discomfort when in use, but mainly when it’s over-extended. I’m thinking I should be able to start walking in a week and then we’ll see how things progress from there. I still want to do a five kilometre run with my friend Jason at the end of October, but I also want to take it easy, so I do not end up with any long-term side effects.

Since June 24th, I’ve been swimming at least twice a week with Huib. We started out just doing 250 metres, but as of last night we’re up to 600. I swam 600 metres in 55 minutes on Wednesday, and then I did 600 in 50 minutes last night.

I am still having trouble with my leg movements, but my arms are doing better. My breathing is a work-in-progress, but the nose plug is really helping. I’m not stressing out about water up my nose, so I’m able to focus more on turning my head to breathe, instead of raising my head completely out of the water.

Once I am back to running, I will continue to swim as often as possible. Maybe there is a triathlon or something in my future.

There are now canine biathlons taking place in the United States. My friend Jess and I think it would be fun to do one with Arizona and her dog Nala. I’d love to do it with Rogue, but my little fox red lab isn’t a big swimmer.

As long as I take things slow, I think I have a lot of options for new health and adventure goals.

Tracking in the Rain

This rainy morning, we tracked with Laura and a new person named Sarah, who has a four month old, male German Shepherd.

Loch, the GSD puppy, just started tracking, so Laura laid three different short tracks for him to practice with. He is really cute and gets distracted pretty easily. I thought his distraction issues kind of reminded me of our little golden girl, lol!!

After Loch finished his first track, Huib got Canyon ready. Laura laid a relatively basic track for him, but also added in some longer grass. Canyon totally over-shot his first corner, but did an okay job otherwise. It might be that his hormones are beginning to stir, with Arizona approaching day 10 on Monday of her heat cycle, but Canyon was kind of all over the place. Maybe next time he’ll be less frantic.

*** From about day 10 to day 16 of Arizona’s heat cycle, Canyon tends to become really whiny and excessively clingy. Thankfully, our friends are taking him for the week. ***

Next was Arizona. Laura was surprised at how little her heat cycle affects her behaviour. Arizona was far from perfect, but she definitely wasn’t any more distracted than usual. She missed a couple corners, but eventually found them. A couple of times, she stopped to scratch or relieve herself – I think this is when she does her thinking, lol!! Overall, I think Ari did a pretty good job.

Oh, Arizona found a pretty cool object in the middle of the soccer field near her track – a big black and white training bumper!! It is similar to the ones we have, but a lot bigger, so it’ll be great for field.

Finally, it was Rogue’s turn. Laura laid a mainly hard surface track with lots of aborted transitions. She over shot one corner, but worked her way back to it. She found and indicated all of the articles, even the one that was in the middle of a deep puddle. Rogue thought about casually indicating the one in the puddle, but I asked her to show it to me again, so she did a better indication.

I think the online retrieve class we took through the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy with Deb Jones and Judy Keller really helped Rogue with her article indications. More often than not, she is actually picking up the article to at least toss at us. I think I will do some more work with the class lectures and see if maybe I can even get her to carry the articles over to me.

I honestly can’t think of any real issues we had today. She worked surprisingly well in the rain – GOOD GIRL!!!

I think it’s time to do some tracking during the week on our own, instead of just working on the weekends. We usually start more regular tracking in September, but maybe the goldens will progress faster with more regular work.

Sorry for the boring blog posts. We really don’t do a lot each week. It’s a pretty routine life here.

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.

Ankle Injury Update

Four week post-injury update.

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

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

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

For exercise, I swim at least twice a week.

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

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

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

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

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.

Tracking Update

This morning we did some tracking at the University of Guelph with Laura and Sandy before it got too warm and humid.

Canyon did quite well. He really seems to be getting the idea of tracking. The only real issue he had was when he saw an article and decided to skip the corner and just go get it, lol!! This is a problem for all dogs, so I’m really not sure how to solve it, other than to make sure the article is better hidden.

Rogue’s tracks were all on hard surface. Laura set up a start drill for her. Rogue had four different tracks where she had to figure out the direction to go from the scent pad. This drill is meant to teach the dogs that tracks won’t always go straight ahead. Rogue did really well. She took a bit of time to decide on a direction for a couple of tracks, but she always figured it out and indicated the articles perfectly!! I really love working with this girl!!

Arizona was really good. She has been struggling to focus lately, but this phase may be passing. Laura gave her a tough track, with parts of it on newer grass and the final leg being on hard surface. Ari got a bit distracted by smells in the taller grass and decided to lay in a puddle, but otherwise she did everything well.

Until next class…

This Week’s Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

**********

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

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

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

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

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

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

**********

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

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

My arms were SO tired by the end!!

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

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

How embarrassing!!

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

Stay tuned…

Not This Time

Sunday was Rogue’s UTD test in London. Despite some really good work, she did not earn her title.

When we arrived at the draw, I picked track #2. Maybe I’m getting used to these tests, or maybe it helped that I knew several of the people, but I did not really feel nervous.

I am trying to stop worrying about the ribbons and titles, but to just enjoy the journey and the opportunity to socialize with others who enjoy the same sports.

Sunday was warm, I think it was already in the mid—twenties by the time the first track was run. Once the first dog had finished, I started getting Rogue ready. I put her tracking harness on, gave her some water and then clipped her tracking line to the front ring of her harness.

We walked up to the start flag which marked the scent pad. About three feet from the scent pad, I asked Rogue to sit and then clipped her line to the back ring of her harness, before saying: “Check it out.”

Rogue sniffed the scent pad really well, checked to the left, then right, and in front, before taking me to the right side from the scent pad. She was revved, she knew what she needed to do – Good Girl!!

A short distance from the first turn, we ran into problems. She started checking all over, trying to figure out where the track went next. She walked all around the berm to the left and checked to the right and a bit straight ahead. I think we stood waiting for her to decide for about three minutes, before she seemed to decide on turning left. Huib and I both weren’t completely convinced, but felt we should follow along and see what happens. About ten metres after turning, the judge blew the whistle – CRAP!!!

I think Rogue would have fixed herself if we had been given a bit more room, but who knows. She did a good job anyway.

After a quick chat with the judge, we were allowed to finish the track with Rogue. She was a bit less confident on the grass portions than on the pavement, but she found both of her articles and showed tons of enthusiasm when she located them – Good Girl!!

I think the quick switch in temperatures played a huge role in the test results for all four of the dogs who were at the test. Sadly, none of them passed.

Rogue loves the sun, even lays out in the backyard sunbathing, but she was panting a lot more than usual on her track. I think the heat really bothered her 🙁

Once everyone had run their track, we went back to the draw location and had lunch. The judge did a quick rundown of how each dog did, then we headed home.

I was very proud of Rogue. She did a great job!! Better luck next time 🙂

Tracking Updates

I haven’t written about tracking in a while. We have been working on it though.

Over the past month, we have been tracking a few times a week.

Rogue is doing really, really well. Her work ethic is amazing and her focus is beautiful. We have been concentrating on urban because I have been hoping to test this spring. We got into the London test, which is this weekend. I am nervous about it, not because I think she isn’t ready, but it is supposed to get really hot this weekend. I think the temperature is supposed to be 30 degrees Celsius on Sunday and there is a risk of thunderstorms.

I am crossing my fingers for good conditions though. This will be our third attempt. I am hoping third time will be the charm. 🙂

Arizona is progressing well. Her focus and work ethic is improving every time we track. I think we need to start making her tracks a bit longer and begin adding in new elements like pavement, so she won’t get too used to the ‘easier’ stuff.

Canyon is still struggling a bit with the concept of tracking, but he is learning. Huib has been handling him for now, as it’s easier for him to help Canyon when necessary. Once he gets the concept, I will take over as his handler. I think he enjoys tracking, especially because he gets to find ‘toys’ along the way, also known as ‘articles.’

Once we get past this weekend, we will move over to field tracking. There aren’t really anymore tests until the fall, so we will have a lot of time to do some field tracking with a bit of urban mixed in.

I really, really hope Rogue passes on Sunday!!