Friday, March 30, 2012

Mini adventure with Sonic

Sonic and I are spending the night at the Comfort Inn in Plainwell, MI. I judged rally today For the Kalamazoo KC and will judge it again tomorrow morning, so here we are.

I'm happy to report that today's teams were far better prepared than the last time I judged in this area. I only saw one perfect score - and it was a lovely performance - but several other very nice displays of teamwork.

Sonic spent her morning and until I finished judging at 3:00 in her crate in the , with a few brief potty breaks. She hasn't been on too many trips without at least one of the older dogs along too often, so it seemed like a good opportunity. After I finished judging, I got her out to potty, then took her into the nearly empty building for some training. I had her on my rolled leather choke collar, which doesn't provide as much control as the pinch collar, but more than her buckle collar. We worked some attention - it was not particularly stellar, some maneuvers, and some brief stays. Phew, we have lots of work ahead of us.

After settling into our hotel room, we did articles. It is the first time I randomized the placement of the articles vs. having them in the regimented rows that is Around the Clock. She has been searching from a pile of 10 unscented plus my scented one. I took out one pair, since the pile looked different. It went smoothly, and included sends from about 15 feet away - the length of the hotel room. Except for not staying a couple of times while I placed my scented article, she did a spot-on job.

While waiting for my dinner order at Applebee's to be ready, we did another 10 minutes of work near the parking lot. I decided to see how she would do with my '20 treat exercise'**. It took her between 4 and 5 minutes to voluntarily look at me 20 times. Hmmm, there is something we need some more work on. The weather is back to being normal spring weather, i.e., COLD. 10 minutes was all my bare hands could manage.

After I finished eating dinner, we headed out behind the hotel to give her a run. We discovered a lovely flat grassy field, fenced on two sides, with small hills/mounds on the other two sides, with no one around. She had a lovely romp chasing bumpers and working on various field related skills, including delivering to hand to each side, which is much improved, I'm happy to say, staying while I throw a bumper, and doing simple double retrieves (I throw two bumpers about 90* apart, she retrieves one, then retrieves the other). This was all mixed in with fun retrieves without a stay.

That saying "A tired puppy is a good puppy"? Very true. She is sacked out on the bed nearby.

I hope to take her in the building again tomorrow for some more attention work after I finish judging.

** The 20-treat exercise is explained in The Art of Proofing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

ATC Articles Week 7

When I wrote last Friday, I was debating whether to eliminate cheese and/or wires before moving on to Week 7. I did indeed move on to Week 7 Saturday. Sonic did days 1-3 without error, so last night, after we finished doing them, I decided to just take off all the wires in preparation for today's work. Since I've been able to hear her sniffing, I was reasonably confident that she was using her nose vs. her eyes. I figured if it fell apart, I could put the wires back on and eliminate them more gradually.

The gamble paid off. She was 4 for 4 this evening. I almost stopped her on the last one, because I spaced out which was the right one (bad trainer!). But she knew. I think I'll do one more day like what we did today, then start to follow my advice I always give to my students:
  • Lengthen the distance to pile out to the 20 or so feet required in the ring.
  • Randomize the appearance of the article pile, vs. the regimented set up I use when teaching the articles with Around the Clock.
  • Add a turn before the send. I have never taught a 'send direct', where the dog turns with you and goes directly to the pile, because I like the control the 'after a sit' method gives me.
  • Add other people scenting the extra articles.
  • Take the show on the road. Given that she did them in multiple different places early on, I am not as concerned about this as if I had done all seven weeks in the same place.
  • Stop using the pair of articles I taught her with.
That ought to keep us busy for a while. I may or may not pursue all of that at this point. My main point in starting this whole project at 6 months was so she had the concept of how to use her nose when she arrives at an article pile. I do believe we have achieved that goal. If I've counted right, today is the 30th day in a row we have done scent articles. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Week 6 Day 6

From my training log notes from Friday's article session:

"Start with cheesed leather. (I wrote this on Thursday. Normally, the 1st article in ATC is a scented metal.)
Put out articles in correct pattern, but without regard to which type was where. Started with whiff of cheese on leather. Also whiff of cheese on 5th article @ position C, also a leather (this was an extra-curricular one. Normally, there are just 4 retrieves each session of week 6.)She was 5 for 5. Some nice confident pickups and trotting back.

The question is, do I move on to week 7 with wires, or first eliminate the cheese and the wires? I'm thinking the former..."

As I've thought about this more today, I continue to concur that I'll move on to Week 7 tomorrow. I can always backtrack.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Article update

Today was the 5th day I've done Week 6 of Around the Clock scent articles with Sonic. It it the week when you are supposed to stop putting cheese on the scented article, and it is the week that can be problematic. I did week 5 five times, and on the final day had only the tiniest smear of cheese on the scented one.

As I've come to expect, going from that teeny tiny little bit of cheese to none has caused her to make mistakes. Since she'd made zero mistakes before, I hadn't had any reason to correct anything. Sonic has erred in slightly different ways each time, but it seems to be more of a problem with the scented leather than the scented metal. Yesterday, she did both metals fine, but the 1st leather wrong. I decided after that to go back to the teensy little bit of cheese on the correct leather one.

At the end of yesterday's session, I pulled out my bag of article wires which I made a few months ago from some leftover garden fencing. One of my students got the idea from another local trainer as an alternative to tying the incorrect ones to a mat.

I put the wires on each of the unscented leather articles at the end of yesterday's session. Sonic did pick up one leather by the top wire that was sticking up, but after that, she seemed appropriately deterred by the wire, and kept searching for the one without. I did put a tiny bit of cheese on the 1st leather, but not after that.

I plan to continue to do the Week 6 sequences until she gets them right several sessions in a row, then move on to Week 7.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

When is it time to quit?

I showed my 1st dog, Australian Terrier Casey, in conformation in 1985. That was my first attempt at competing with a dog. We earned her CD in November 1986. I've been in the ring in several venues a lot since then with my 8 dogs and had a lot of successes, along with my share of NQs. One thing I've been incredibly fortunate to do with all of my dogs is to earn the titles I set out to earn. However, during the years I have been teaching obedience, I've sometimes had to have the difficult discussion with a student about having to give up on a long-sought title.

This question started rolling about in my head this morning during my morning bike ride with the dogs today.

How do you know when it's time to quit and give up on that dream?

Sometimes, the answer jumps up and slaps you in the face: your dog gets injured and you just can't get him sound enough to trial. Sometimes, the dog simply gets too unsound because of age or structure problems, and even with the low jump heights we now have in AKC obedience, can't jump comfortably. 

Sometimes, your dog is so fearful during stays because of a bad incident in his past that he can't help but come to you. Or your dog just isn't cut out for the rigors of the requirements needed for certain advanced titles. 

I am asking myself this question about Ty right now. She currently has Ch UD OM1 RE SH WCX. She has qualified for the Flat-Coated Retriever Society of America Hall of Fame. She just finished her OM1 last month. She has 4 UDX legs and 19 OTCh points, including an Open B 1st place. She finished her UD a year ago this weekend. I do feel like I have finally figured out a better way to train her. I'm not sure I've found the best way, but at least we are both having more fun. She has been quite a puzzle for our whole time together (I got her at 16 months). Last summer, when we got back to field training, I had a big Ah-ha moment. I wasn't training with any test in mind, just trying to improve her skills. With less pressure from me, she was much happier and having more success. Most of her Senior Hunter legs the year before were shaky - some moments of brilliance mixed in with quite a few ugly moments. While she was much improved at the end of field season in the fall, I still can't imagine her ever getting all the pieces solid enough to pass 1 Master test, let alone 5 to earn a Master title. 

Her age is another issue. She turned 7 in December, which shouldn't seem old, but in Flat-Coat years, it can be. Sadly, two of her litter mates died of cancer recently. While I may still have years left with her, I have no way of knowing. Given how frustrated I can get with the mysteries of her responses, I'm not sure I want to subject either of us to those frustrations in whatever time we have left, whether short or long. During my trip south, she had a couple of brilliant days training in the water, much to my surprise. The 3rd day, when I ignorantly asked her to do something much harder (I'm still enough of a novice at the field game not to recognize when something is dramatically more difficult - thankfully the person I was training with pointed it out to me!), she had a bit of a meltdown. That evening, when we got to Lakeland and trained some obedience, she was positively radiant. She was fast, she was fun, she had confidence. She knew her job. Another Ah-ha moment for me.

Another issue is time. I enjoy training and running Gryffin much more in the field than Ty. It's not that he never frustrates me, but he is simply better at it. And I have my baby girl Sonic coming up. I really like having 2 dogs to train in the field (and in obedience, for that matter). Three gets unwieldy. 

Another issue is money. How much money are you spending on entry fees that result in another NQ? How about class fees? My first dog took 21 trials to earn her UD, but she earned a leg our first time in the ring. Her 2nd leg came 6 months later, and the 3rd a year after that. I did have a baby between legs 2 and 3, so that held me up a bit. But not much. It never occurred to me that we wouldn't finish the UD. In the years and dogs since, I just keep plugging away and eventually get there.

If you have been pondering this question, here are a few more questions to ask yourself:
  • Are you enjoying your training time?
  • Are you enjoying your trial time, even without passing very often?
  • Is your dog enjoying the training time?
  • Is your dog enjoying the trials?
  • Is your dog still physically sound enough to be doing what you are asking him to do?
  • Do you have a promising young dog you've put on the back burner because of the time needed for the older dog?
  • Is there another activity that you can do with your dog to keep her busy but doesn't take as much time and/or money?
My plan with Ty, at least for now, is to work towards her OM2 - I've never had one - and then see where she is on her UDX and OTCh points. I'll play with her in the field on days there is time and she has the desire, but not with any pressure. Gryff will do field work as long as his body allows him to, and Sonic will get to do everything I can throw at her.

It should be fun!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sonic at 7 months

In the past month, my primary obedience-related focus with Sonic has been her hold for retrieving, getting her picking up a dumbbell and articles, and getting her started on Around the Clock Scent Discrimination. As I've written about several times recently, we started the Around the Clock process the day we left on our 15-day trip in late February, and have worked on them every day since. I don't think I've ever managed to be this consistent. My goal is to have her understanding that she should use her nose when presented with a collection of scent articles, not just grab the first one she gets to. I am teaching her this now because when I start her working on a bumper pile for field, I do want her to grab the first one she gets to, at least ideally. Because of the importance of scent articles for Utility, I will be more forgiving of potential 'shopping' in a bumper pile than field trainers who aren't doing scent work, but I am hopeful that she can understand the difference. Here she is doing Week 5 Day 2 today here at home:

We have continued to work Rhythm Heeling fairly regularly, though hardly at all during our trip.

The other big milestone was her first swims in real ponds. I am so glad I spent the time (and $'s) to teach her to swim in the local therapy pool. She is a very good swimmer, and was in fact difficult to keep out of the water. Here is her Florida swimming video:

She is really getting the idea of the field game. She had several marks thrown by other people during our trip, both land and water, and this morning, she did the land marks that everyone else did, though hers were shorter than Gryff's. Still, I think she is approaching the 100 yard mark, which thrills me. She only visited a gunner once today - that definitely needs more work! She is holding pretty steady in her sit stay until I release her, races out, is learning to hunt well, and usually racing back to me. I am not demanding a delivery to heel position. That is something we are working on 'in the yard.' 

I have been working on field obedience with her every day since the Friday of the Mike Lardy seminar, after I was reminded by watching him what I should be working on. I do plan to have her able to work off both sides. I am very awkward with her on my right, but she is coping pretty well. We are doing walking on both sides, sits when I stop, sit stays, recalls, and finishes to both sides. I have introduced her to a heeling stick (kind of like a riding crop), the beginnings of collar conditioning, and just today, the beginnings of force fetch.

We will be showing in a supported entry in conformation next month, so I'm also doing a bit of work on stacking and gaiting. My son and I took several pictures of her today in honor of her reaching 7 months of age.

She's made some excellent progress in the past month. It will be fun to see where we are when she is 8 months old.

Monday, March 12, 2012

2012 Southern Odyssey Days 13-15

Thing I highlighted in my notes from the 3.5 day Mike Lardy seminar:
  • Always have a holding blind set up so it is routine. (it is very easy to be lazy and not do it)
  • Mike uses MARK when the dog is already looking in the right direction vs. using it to get the dog to look where you want.
  • He writes down what to do in the next training session at the end of the current one.
  • The "dead bird" cue is introduced on Pattern Blinds, not on pile work.
  • "We push dogs a lot, but not with a lot of pressure, and not daily."
  • Yard work - review previous steps, get to the heart of the lesson, and end with something simple.
  • The dog needs to learn to be able to keep working through pressure instead of quitting.
  • Don't enter a test if you are having to correct something frequently.
  • He gets rid of white bumpers in the water ASAP. He uses them initially to stretch out distances, but then goes to black and whites, and then solid blacks.
  • To increase success, have the gunner who is throwing remain standing. Sitting down after the throw is harder.
  • When forcing on remote send, be sure to wait for the dog to complete the turn before applying force.
  • "The style you force on is the style you force in," i.e., if your dog working slowly when you add force, he will probably continue to work that way.
  • Force has to be aversive without being overwhelming.
  • "You don't gain much from perfect." - he wants to have the dog make mistakes at certain stages, so he can learn. This was something Mike said when demonstrating the "No-no Drill", which is essentially like a retrieve over the high jump in obedience, just at much longer distances. If the dog goes around on the way to the pile, he is called back after being told NO! I love this succinct way of putting this. I think when I teach Directed Jumping for Utility, this will be a very useful quote to remember.
  • You are done with force to pile when you don't get escape behaviors from the dog in response to the force.
  • Skipping steps is detrimental to the steps that follow!
  • Dogs need to be confident hunters. Start with white bumpers, but move to dark ones quickly and put them in cover early.
  • Standards are important.
I would say just about all of the 10 working teams made excellent progress on their training during the seminar. There were some great problem-solving segments that were very interesting to watch. Mike would talk about the process and why he was making some of the choices he was making in the attempts to solve the problems the dogs were having with different aspects of the program. I found myself saying "Good dog!" a lot, sometimes rather loudly, when the dog was doing better :-).

I took notes throughout the seminar on my iPad Noteshelf app (if you have an iPad and DON'T have Noteshelf, get it. It's my favorite app). A lot of people noticed and asked me questions. Jennifer, who was helping Mike with equipment logistics, saw it and said, "You've got to show Mike!" so I did. Somewhat to my surprise, when he was talking about record keeping on Sunday morning, he asked me to get up and describe how I use it to keep training records. Sure is a good thing I'm used to speaking in front of big groups of dog trainers. After I sat down, I realized I could have been terrified. But I wasn't. Pretty funny that what I got noticed for was my geeky side.

We got on the road about 1 PM and stayed Sunday night in Knoxville, TN at yet another Red Rood Inn. Considering their website says "Pets stay free," I was disappointed when they told me that 1 pet stays free, and subsequent ones are $10 each. I said it would be awfully nice if the website didn't lie and say Pets stay free. I hope that doesn't get to be a trend at more Red Roof Inns :-(.

I love to pull out Google Maps on my iPad to try to find empty fields in which to do some training. There was one right around the corner from the motel, so I got packed up and went over to it and gave all the dogs about 10 minutes of training each. I did my direction changing drill with Gryff and Ty - 3 stakes set up with 4-5 bumpers at each, with some lining to a pile, but more stopping and casting to a different destination. I devised this drill for Ty last summer because she was so poor at changing directions. When I was doing it regularly, she really loved it, and would run harder and more confidently as the drill progressed. I saw that again this morning. I did some field obedience with Sonic, then did some Traffic Cop marks (Bill Hillman's name). Then we hit the road about 9:30 and got back home about 6:30 PM. 

We are all glad to be home. We put over 2700 miles on the Burb in the past 15 days. Sonic was very happy to have a romp with her buddy Joker, who had stayed home. I can't wait to continue building on Sonic's field foundation. The seminar was perfectly timed to remind me of the many steps to come, and fire up my enthusiasm to keep progressing.

We did Week 4 Day 4 of Around the Clock articles before dinner. 15th day in a row. Very pleased with her progress.

Friday, March 9, 2012

2012 Southern Odyssey Days 11-12

My biggest takeaway from Day 1 of the 3.5 day Basic and Transition field training workshop with Mike Lardy was foundation, foundation, foundation. Just like in obedience (or piano lessons, for that matter), if your foundation if poor, it is hard to build advanced skills. The seminar started with a short amount of lecture, then we moved over to watch several advanced dogs running land marks in preparation for the weekend's field trials. Once those dogs were done, some simplified marks were set up, and all 10 participants dogs ran the 3 marks. This gave Mike a chance to "make book" on the dogs' issues. We then went to "the yard" for some obedience work and some other yard drills. We finished the day with the Swim-by drill with a couple of dogs.

Purina sponsored a BBQ dinner right at Mike's property, and there was a drawing for a bunch of donated gear. Remarkably, my name was drawn first, and I made a beeline to one of the 4 heeling sticks. I had a heeling stick, but lost it last fall on my final training day at Omega Farms. A heeling stick is similar to a riding crop used with horses. I found it incredibly helpful in getting both Gryff and Ty under much better off-leash control during advanced field work, and have been meaning to order a new one so I could get Sonic used to it. I have seen heeling sticks used in ways that at least appear downright abusive. I don't plan to use it that way, don't worry. 

It turns out all but 2 people won something. I felt badly for those 2.

Before the dinner, Dee Dee Rose threw some simple marks for Sonic. She didn't return to me on the 1st one, but instead went to Dee Dee because I forgot to get her attention with the extra bumper that I had remembered to keep with me. After that, she returned nicely. I took each dog out individually after that and did 'Stand Alone' marks, where you leave the dog in a sit stay, walk out however far you want to go, throw a mark, and release the dog to retrieve it from out in the field. I've done these with both Gryff and Ty for several years after reading about it in the Retrievers On Line magazine. Dennis Voight, editor of RoL, is in Florida to train for the winter, and gave a presentation at the end of the day's seminar presentation about using Stand Alones for training by yourself. It was great to meet Denise at the party. Sonic did a very simple version of this on my long flexi.

Today, the morning was devoted to more obedience and yard drills, finishing the morning with more swim-by for the two dogs from Day 1. It was good to see all the dogs making progress. The afternoon was devoted to water marks and some of the transition water drills, with a land tune-up drill Mike demoed with one of his Advanced dogs. We were very fortunate to not get rained on today other than a tiny bit of sprinkles at the end of the afternoon, when the win picked up and the temperature dropped a bunch.

Dee Dee threw several marks for each dog before we came back to the motel room. Except for dashing off to see the nice man in the white coat faaaaar across the field (I wasn't aware he was there, shame on me) when I got Sonic out for her turn, it was quite successful. The final mark she ran was 80-85 yds in length, and she did have to do some hunting, since we were not on mowed grass. She really seems to be getting the idea of the simple mechanics of the job. Very satisfying!

When we got back to the motel, I put Sonic on a long line and we worked field-related obedience in the motel parking lot for 10-15 minutes, including walking (vs. heeling) on each side, doing sit stays, recalls, whistle sits on her return to me, finishes to heel position and to a sit at my right side. I'm going to make the attempt to have Sonic be a two-sided dog. I feel pretty awkward with her on my right, but I'm gonna try. I was very pleased with her work. 

Here's Sonic's articles from last night - Day 4 of Week 3.

Tonight we started Week 4, and it went just fine. In week 4, 4 of the 7 retrieves have the cheesed article with the cheese down instead of up, so she had to use her nose instead of her eyes to find the right one. Correct on all counts!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

2012 Southern Odyssey Days 7-10

The saga continues...

I moved to a LaQuinta Sunday evening (Day 7). At about 11:30 (I'd been asleep for an hour), I was jerked awake by what sounded like a fire alarm. It blasted twice, but then stopped. Since it stopped, I assumed it was an error, and got back in bed. Then I vaguely thought I smelled smoke, and opened my door a crack. Hmmm. Still vague. My room was just around the corner from the front desk, and there wasn't much activity. Then I heard a big truck drive up, looked out the window. Fire truck! Threw on clothes, leashed the dogs, grabbed my wallet, keys, and cell phone, and exited my room. Definitely smokey smell. Got outside as another fire truck and rescue truck showed up. I put the dogs in their crates in the Burb and waited. I heard a few different versions of what happened. As I sat in the Burb, I kept thinking of what I'd left behind in the room. I would have been very sad and put out to lose my laptop and iPad, but I reminded myself I got the important things. About an hour later, people seemed to be going back inside and the firemen leaving, so I unloaded the dog and returned to my room. It took a long time for the adrenalin to wane and sleep to come, but it did eventually. The next morning, the desk clerk said the firemen thought it was probably a cigarette butt thrown into mulch that caught fire. That was certainly enough excitement for this trip!

On Monday and Tuesday, I taught lessons. I managed to fit in some training with Ty and Sonic on Monday, and on Tuesday evening, Debbi let Sonic and me participate in one of their beginning competition classes. It was a nice fit for Sonic's skill level and it was wonderful to give her an hour of training and attention after all the confinement of the day. It was sad to say goodbye to my Lakeland friends, but I'll be back in just over two months for another seminar.

Debbi's husband Roger owns and operates Dixie Signs in Lakeland. A couple of weeks ago, I contacted them about possibly getting some graphics added to the Burb while I was here. I talked to Roger about it on Saturday during the seminar, and he thought it could work out. I met with Casey at Dixie Signs Monday morning, and Tuesday while I taught lessons, they installed the graphics.
I am tickled with how well they turned out, and every time I looked at the graphics today, it made me smile.

I had an easy drive to Thomasville, GA, though I completely missed noticing when I crossed the Florida/Georgia line. I got here about 2 PM, and got a first floor room (YEAH!), got stuff unloaded, then headed off to try to find a place to train/run the dogs. I eventually found a soccer field at the high school. I did a 4-bumper wagon wheel with Sonic, and by golly, she did a reasonable job at it. I only threw them as far as the long flexi would reach, since I'm not taking chances on her being off leash. As I was getting Gryff out to do a drill, kids started gathering on the other side of the field, looking like they were going to have a practice, so I moved and just took all three for a brief walk. Shortly after I got back to the hotel, Dee Dee Rose called me. She had just arrived. She came over for a chat while I had my afternoon tea, then we went to the grocery store and dinner. Tomorrow morning, we get started on the 3.5 day Basics and Transition seminar with Mike Lardy. We have confessed to one another that we feel like kids on Christmas :-).

It's time to do Sonic's articles, feed the dogs and get to bed. 

2012 Southern Odyssey Days 3-7

When I wrote about our first day of our trip, I mentioned that I'd started Sonic on Around the Clock scent discrimination. I am pleased to say we have done it every day of the trip so far. We did 'Week 1' 4 times, then moved on to 'Week 2'. We did that 3 times. Since she had not made any errors, and was almost instantly going to the cheesed article, I decided to move on to 'Week 3'. We have done that twice so far, tonight makes 3. If sessions 3 & 4 go as smoothly, I'll move on to 'Week 4'. Here's a video of Week 1/Day 2. I edited out all the 'rescent, reheat, recheese' and getting Sonic to set up for the next one.

Once we started doing leathers ('Week 2'), she started picking it up after she'd finish licking the cheese. She isn't quite as keen to pick up the metal one now that we are alternating between metal and leather, but she mostly doesn't need much help.

I had a completely delightful time at Betsy Reiney's magnificent property on Days 3-5 of our trip. The weather was quite warm on the 1st two days, but since I mainly wanted to swim the dogs, it worked out fine. Betsy and Bill have 20 acres with one big main pond, plus several smaller ones, which means the options for technical water work are many. Here is a video of Sonic swimming the first afternoon we were there:

Ty told me by her enthusiasm that she wanted to get a turn retrieving, and much to my surprise, did very nicely on some water blinds that afternoon. She hadn't done ANY field work since last October, so it was a pleasant surprise.

On Thursday, two of Betsy's field training friends came over. We did a 3-station marking set up on land in the morning. Gryff did it as a triple, Ty as a double of the outside two marks and the long single up the middle. Turns out that long single was 130 yds. I moved up fairly close to Betsy and she threw several marks for Sonic, with me moving back some after each success to make for longer retrieves.

In the afternoon, I taught both dogs a very technical land/water blind. I was especially pleased with Ty's efforts. I've been planning to just concentrate on obedience with her this year, and train Gryff and Sonic in the field, but she may have other plans.

On Friday morning, we set out two piles of bumpers with stakes on the big pond, and walked around running each one from several different places. Ty was having a really hard time, but Betsy pointed out I was attempting really long water entries. It helped a lot when I moved up close to the shore. Gryff also got to run several of the blinds. I got Sonic out and threw a bunch of water marks for her myself, letting her get comfortable swimming near decoys. She'd had a fearful encounter with them on Thursday, but she turned it around and decided they needed to be investigated. Her swimming was much improved from the somewhat splashy video taken on Wednesday. I decided there wasn't a lot of reason to take more video, since it would just be boring - black dog swimming. So what??? Betsy then threw several land marks for Sonic again. I think we lengthened out to about 80 yds. Good girl! We did 2-3 more water marks and called it a day.

Friday afternoon (Day 5), I packed up and moved to Lakeland. I got unloaded at the new DogSense Obedience training building, and did some obedience with Ty and Sonic. I think Ty was really happy to do easy obedience after the difficult work in the morning. She was so enthusiastic and energetic, and a lot of fun. I stayed on a cot in Debbi's soon-to-be office Friday and Saturday nights, because there was not a motel to be had nearby due to several local events, including Detroit Tiger spring training games. I dubbed myself the building troll :-). While not ideal, it worked out okay. It was nice not to have to load up the dogs to drive to the building

As I usually find when I teach my seminars at DogSense, I really enjoyed working with all the trainers and their dogs. At least a couple of people got their dogs taking a dumbbell, which had been eluding them. We did more heeling than sometimes, which I always enjoy.