Monday, September 5, 2011

Another fine training day in the field

Marshbanks GRC is having our annual WC/WCX field test next Saturday @ Spencerfield near Concord, so we had a pond clean-up work day this morning and training after. About 8 of us met up with weed-whips and clippers and spent a couple of hours clearing out giant burr bushes, goldenrod, wild roses and blackberry bushes (ouch!). We really improved accessability. Then we moved up to one of the rolling hay fields that has a dozen or so big round bales and did some marking drills. The cover wasn't too high, so the young dogs got some great experience with running down and up hills to a reasonably visible target (big white bumpers), plus past the bales. The Big Dogs did two sets of converging in-line doubles. Then we did a WC double set up and then a triple for those who wanted to do it (I didn't. Little ran the 3 marks as singles VERY nicely, plus had her first exposure to gun fire out in the field). Then the Big Dogs did 4 slot blinds - using hay bales to define the path. Gryff lined 3 of the 4 - it is SUCH a thrill to be back working him so much and we are both in heaven. The next 2 dogs lined the 1st one, and had a fair bit of handling for the other 3 blinds. Ty had a very poor initial line on the first one and I could tell she was weanying out some, but I did get some nice casts from her and kept my patience with her. On water, I let Ty watch a blind get planted (several bumpers thrown out into a big patch of water lilies), then put her away. The path to the blind was about 20 yds of land diagonally across a swim-by pond corner of the pond, angling across a point with about 40 yds to the water lilies. Gryff took a good line to the point, but when I stopped him and gave him a left back, he jumped in and headed for the right shore. I recalled him to the point, got him back to the same spot, repeated the cast, and this time got the correct response. With Ty, I walked her out to the point and ran her from there first. Her initial line wasn't super, but she got into the water lilies without too much horsing around. I left her sitting with her bumper on the point, walked back to the other side and recalled her to there, then ran from there. As she likes to do, she squared her entry into the pond. Because I'm trying to avoid too much nit-picking, especially early, I let her swim across. She arrived about 10 yds to the right of where I'd sent her from. She got up on the point, turned left, moved down to that spot, turned, jumped in and swam right to the lilly pads without any intervention from me. We quit on that happy note. I had Jan throw a couple of marks for Little just in the water near the 2nd point and ran the mark 1st from the 1st point, then walked her back around and had Little repeat the mark, getting out and back in. She did a very fine job on it, reentering with no problem at all.

The solid week of training every day sure does pay off! I think Gryff is back in pretty fine form, Ty is getting braver, and Little has made some really nice strides.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Training Update

I've had a really satisfying training week, mostly field, but with some obedience with Ty tossed into the mix. It is probably the most training days I've been able to string together since July. We were up north on vacation in early August, then the following weekend (Aug 20) we went to Wisconson for my nephew's wedding (probably the coolest and most joyful wedding I've ever attended, not to mention dancing up a storm with my extended family - fun, fun, fun!), and last weekend was my club's hunt test weekend. I coordinated one of the 2 Master flights, so was there from Friday early afternoon until Sunday afternoon. I got a chance to use my travel trailer again, and Gryff unexpectedly ran test dog. I had considered entering him in the test back in July, then when he bloated**, that idea went right out of my head. The person who had said she'd run test dog wasn't there on time (note to self: don't ask a pro who has a jillion entries to run test dog - just not gonna happen), so I pulled Gryff out. He hadn't seen a triple since last September, and needed to be handled to the long bird, but we managed it. His afternoon work wasn't much better, but Ty got to run bye dog (there was an honor in the 2nd series, which means an extra dog is needed to run the test while the last entered dog does the honor), and did a lovely job on the water double, much better than Gryff, actually. Sunday's series was a land/water triple with a double blind, both under the arc of the falls, one on land, one thru the end of the pond (middle mark had landed out in the pond). It was an extremely well designed test (Mitch White and Joe Smithberger were the judges), and my friend Corinne who was marshalling said she'd never heard so much discussion of how to run a test. There was a lot of variation in how people did it, some successfully, some not so much. It was so much fun to run, and I could tell Gryff had shaken off some of the rust from Saturday.

Best of all, he was sound after running the test, and has been doing well with the work thrown at him this week. So I'm looking to enter tests the last two weekends of September, with the hope of camping in the area (the tests are both in Ohio) and training all week.

Little, the young Flat-Coat I borrowed from my friend Helen back in June when she was 9 months old, came back last Monday for another month of training. But she came in season yesterday, so we'll see how that goes. I am really enjoying having the green dog to demo with in classes, I gotta say.

My Suburban customization is working out wonderfully. I love training out of it with the 3 dogs. And it is still organized, even after several weeks!

And I have my name on a litter of FCRs that will be 3 weeks old tomorrow. They are all the way out in BC, so, oh, no, I have to make another trip to Vancouver Island :-) (I was there in Feb). I don't have firm desire for boy/girl/black/liver (there are 3 brown puppies), which will hopefully make the choice broader.

** Gryff bloated on the morning of July 27, just after coming out of a pond from his 3rd water retrieve of the morning. I've never seen a dog bloat before, but it was pretty clear to me - staggering around trying to vomit (but failing to do so), looking shocky, abdomen swelling up). Ironically, given that two of my frequent training partners are vets, he bloated on a day when neither was there. With the help of Maria and her cell phone's GPS, we got to a vet within about 20 minutes and they got him back on his feet. His stomach had started twisting, so they had to do a needle aspiration to get enough air out to get a stomach tube into him. He ejected a lot of pond water and air, and reappeared looking tired but back to normal size. I took him home and kept an eye on him locked in an x-pen in my kitchen all afternoon, allowing him only small amounts of water at a time. That evening at about 7 PM, he started bloating again. Apparently he didn't want to wait for the stomach tacking surgery I'd scheduled for the next day; he wanted it on an emergency basis that night. I heard from the vet at midnight that he'd come through the surgery just fine, with no involvement of his spleen or pancreas (apparently, if the stomach twists in a certain way, it can wrap around other organs). His stomach lining looked good and the silver-lining to the whole thing, no sign of any cancer. I picked him up the next evening and took him home for recovery. He had about 20 staples running from breastbone to near his penis, but was being a good boy and mostly left them alone. Helen kept him when we went on vacation, and took the staples out the day we got back. I've been gradually ramping up his exercise and he doing great. Since he loves field more than anything in the world, that is what we are doing as much of as we possibly can.