Saturday, May 30, 2009

Let the odyssey begin!

I left Ann Arbor Friday morning to head east for this year's Flat-Coated Retriever National Specialty - all Flat-Coats for 8 days of Agility, Rally, obedience, conformation, and field events! We are currently in upstate NY, staying with a friend for a couple of nights, and days of field and obedience training and visiting.

I stopped at Cabela's Friday to buy 6 more small orange bumpers (a certain black boy dog managed to eat the ends off several over the winter >:-() AND a gortex rain suit (training in the rain last Wednesday confirmed the need for one).

I needed two stops for naps yesterday, which was frustrating but necessary. Also had a bit of a detour in Cleveland when I exited too soon, stopped for gas, then couldn't get back on the highway easily because of a closed entrance ramp. Yuck.

I got to Jane's at 6:00 PM, and after some visiting, I did some water work with both dogs. Afterwards, we had a lovely and social evening, with several local dog friends coming over for dinner.

Saturday morning, the dogs woke me at 5:15, oh joy. Finally really got up at 6:00 to let them out.

We went to a local park so Jane could walk her nearly 15 year old Gemma while I did some T work with Ty and Gryffin. After a quick trip to Jane's to drop off Gemma, we headed off to join a couple of other trainers, Todd & Beth, for a day of field work. We did a land series first. We used ducks for the marks, which really helped both of my dogs. I ran a single and then a double with both dogs, and we were far more successful than earlier this week. Gryff also did a decent job on the two blinds. The first blind was between the right and middle marks. The second was to the left of the left mark, which had been thrown right to left, angling back. As expected on the second blind, Gryff wanted to go back to that left mark, but was at least making an effort to change direction away from it, not just immediately sucking to it. I did see a problem developing today in that he's popping when he's really close to the bumper at the end of the blind. I guess I've been insisting on a sit because of poor casts near the end of the blind, and I'm creating a habit.

We moved over to water, which was a lovely technical pond owned by a local field-trialer. So many options! The left mark was a fairly straight-forward "across the pond and out onto land" mark. The other two used the two points that stuck out from the right side of the pond. The closer mark was off the end of the closer point and the farther was launched from the back of the farther away right end of the cove, with the duck landing beyond the second point. With Ty, I had her do the right mark first, and she did a lovely line across the two points to the duck and returned nice and straight across. Then we ran the left mark followed by the middle one, and she did very well on both.

I had her honor for Jane's Nellie, and because of Nellie's noise issues coming out of the holding blind, Ty had a VERY, very long honor, and started to break on the go-bird of the double. This is very unusual for her, although we haven't done a ton of honoring on the water, so it was an excellent training opportunity.

With Gryff I ran the two right marks as a double (they were in a so-called hip pocket configuration, which means the long mark is thrown sort of towards the short mark so the dog has to run somewhat close behind the short gun station to get to the long bird). Well, "bad boy arc to the right" Gryff made a way-too-big arc to the right and got out on the first point way to the right of the gunner (when he should have simply gone past with the point and gunner on his right), so I corrected him for that (a nick on the e-collar). He was then understandably reluctant to cross that very spot to get to the memory bird, so had a terrible line going out to it, but returned correctly. He did the left mark decently, and then we reran the right mark to give him a chance at success (and he did fine) after the correction and over reaction.

We finished up with a couple of blinds. The water one had a very sharp angle entry, which he did well, then out across the first point and back into another section of water and then out onto land another 30 or so yards. The land blind was about 150 yds, through a couple of trees with a mound of dirt between about 40 yds from where I started from, which he got over pretty well, but then veered around the left tree. Dang trees :-). There was a lot of open uphill field between the two trees and the bumpers, with another big tree to the left near the end.

After an afternoon nap, I did some more swim-by with Ty, where she is showing excellent progress, and a related drill with Gryff. Jane has the perfect little rectangular pond for this.

While the day started out pretty chilly, it ended beautifully.

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