Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sonic at 17 months

I just found this unpublished blog post, written in mid-January 2013. While it will show up out-of-order here, I've decided to publish it, as it is a record of where she was nearly a year ago.
I am pleased to report that last Saturday (January 12, 2013), Sonic completed the training of the field Double T to my satisfaction. We've been gradually working up to it for what seems like forever (since sometime in the fall), but the final week of it was a bit anticlimactic. After 3 days of the full Double T with very few errors, I was satisfied, and we have moved on to starting walk-out blinds. For these, you and the dog walk out into a field with several bumpers. You reach the destination of a blind, sit the dog close to the end, toss a couple of bumpers out and let the dog retrieve them from that close distance. You toss the bumpers back out, then walk to the other destination, which should be a bit closer than the 1st one. Repeat the tossing/retrieving up close, toss the bumpers out again, then walk back to the starting line. Send the dog to the one you just came from, handling as needed. Repeat with the first one you 'planted'. The two days we have done those has gone very well.

We've also been doing a lot of lining drills, including Carol Cassity's W Drill. You place 5 white stakes in a W formation, three in a row about 20 yds apart and two 20 yds away from that row, also 20 yds apart. You put bumpers at each stake and, moving around the field, line the dog to the various stakes. It gives you a lot of opportunity to work on 'slots', where they have to go between at least two closer, tempting stakes to get to the farther away one. After a few successes in one spot, you move.

I find it much easier to work on blind-related training - lining and casting - since I can do those drills by myself much more easily than marking training. But as has been pointed out to me, marking is paramount. At Clint Catledge's recommendation, I've been working a lot of hand-thrown multiples: I throw 2-4 bumpers out in an arc around us and she retrieves them one by one. This allows us to work on the mechanics of running multiples: I send her to retrieve the last one I throw - the "go bird" - and when she returns with it, take delivery facing the next one she is to retrieve. I get her focused on the area, then send to retrieve, etc. It is definitely helping with this whole aspect of teamwork.

Yesterday, in addition to two Walk-Out Blinds and hand-thrown multiples, we did some 80-150 yard 'Stand Alone' marks. I leave Sonic in a sit stay and walk out away from her. When I've reached the desired distance, I throw a bumper, then release her from out there to retrieve the bumper I just threw. She then brings it the short distance back to me and we repeat the process. I have permission to use a wonderful hay field a mile from home that has fabulous rolling hills with the chance to run across the face of the hill, something they need to learn how to do. Most dogs prefer to run down or up rather than across.

Our progress in obedience is considerably slower because we simply haven't been spending much time at it. She is my primary demo dog in my classes, so she does get practice that way. I also had someone else start teaching one of my Novice Practice classes so that Sonic and I can attend. We've been doing that for the past several months, and she has certainly made steady progress. Her focus on heeling is quite nice, though heeling with fun toys on the ground continues to be hard. I'm not crazy about her halts, but I really like the rest of her heeling. She can do some lovely left circles at a trot if I keep them big enough.

Sonic continues to be very eager for the work, which makes her a joy to train.

2013 Goal Review

Joker – 11 years and going strong

Goal is to keep him that way.
He tore his cruciate in July, but laser treatments, rest and time spent in the Ontario woods around our cabin got him back on track without surgery. He had an eye injury in the fall but seems to have recovered from it just fine.

Ty – 8 years old.

I've accomplished what I hoped to with her – Ch UDX OM2 SH WCX, and applied for the FCRSA HOF. She needs a job, but I don't know what it ought to be.
At this year's FCRSA National in April, Ty and I did obedience (2 NQ's, but pretty decent effort considering a lack of training), rally (won the Excellent B class and had a blast), and conformation (3rd place in Veterans 7-9 bitches and 2nd in the Gun Dogs Sweepstakes class she was in).
Ty tried to take over leadership of the dog pack after Gryffin’s death last year, but in a bullying and stressful way. Adele considered placing Ty in a new home for several months. When the right home came along, we made the difficult decision to do so. She is an only dog in her new home–something that we think makes her a lot happier–and there is a lot less stress in our lives. She brings a lot of joy to her new owner.

Little – 2 years old

I'd like to have her ready for the WCX at the National and for Senior by fall. Helen may do Novice with her at the National if she has Little enough to train her regularly, and maybe rally.
Little earned her RN in March with Helen.
She earned her WCX at the National with me and a BN leg with Helen.
She earned her Senior Hunter in August and September. While it wasn't a totally smooth ride–steadiness is not her strong suit, nor is handling on blinds –we still reached the goal. She then returned to Helen, who finished up her BN in October and made a stab at Novice B. Alas, the Stand for Exam is HARD for this wiggly social girl. She also earned 5 points in the conformation ring during 2013.

Sonic – 16 months old

Get to do water in the Derby at the April National, which means doing land well enough to move on to water. In my dreams, we place. But being realistic, getting to water would be a grand achievement.
We were one of 3 out of 5 dogs called back for water. Then everyone failed the water test, so there were no ribbons. Goal was met, and it was a fun new adventure.
Finish her JH.
Earned our 3rd leg at the National and finished the title in May.
Get her running cold blinds:
land (March) and water (May)
Earn her WCX - 4/21/13
Run Senior with her in the fall. While I'd love to earn her SH, that is a pretty tall order - I think. (pass 1 July, pass 2 8/17, pass 3 8/24, 8/25 TITLE!!!). When we first arrived in Florida, Little was ahead of Sonic in terms of her skill set. During that trip, Sonic got almost caught up on water, and moved ahead of her on land.
Earn her RA (March 15) and RE (4/22).
I've been completely focused on field work with her lately, and plan to continue that as much as possible this winter, so I don't know if I'll devote the time to obedience titles or not. If I do, we might do Novice in the fall. Or Beginner Novice (4/22). Or Grad Novice (10/22). Or none. WC Novice 11/22 - very nice performance! 198.5, 2nd place.


Update the Northfield Dog Training website! It has been on my list for at least a year, and other things keep getting in the way.
Finally, my web programming skills reached a critical mass in the fall, and I started serious progress on the website. Right before Christmas, I got the "get rid of frames" release done. It was a huge undertaking, but I've learned a lot, and find I still really like programming. After a brief break to get ready for Christmas, I've returned to work on implementing PayPal. The list of additions/changes I still want to make is lengthy, and will most likely continue to occupy me well into 2014.
Continue with my field training education – to that end, I'm already signed up for two seminars with Mitch White and plan to sign up for the Carol Cassity one that Marshbanks will be sponsoring in July, and maybe one with Bill Hillman in June.
I had a great time at both seminars with Mitch White, the first one a water workshop in Florida in February, and the other his 4-day summer camp in July. The following weekend was 3 days with Carol Cassity, from which I got one particularly helpful exercise, as well as a long list of great ideas.
Keep honing my Getting Things Done chops.
While I did manage several 'Weekly reviews', it is still a weak point for me when using the system. However, the overall framework of GTD is what allows me to keep on top of all of the dozens of projects I seem to have going all the time.
Blog more regularly again.
With only 12 blog posts all year as compared to > 20 for the previous three years, I'd say I failed on this one. My muse only grabbed me by the hands a few of times, forcing me to get some ideas out there.
Get back to some form of aerobic exercise. Aim for 100 workouts.
Started out the year by getting my Nordic Track functioning again and used it for a while, but then when I started PT for my neck and shoulder in late January, that stopped. I got the bike tires pumped up right before Christmas and have biked Sonic and Joker several times in the building since the cold weather has set in.
Work on some multimedia product. I have some half-baked ideas. Website first, though.
I have even more ideas for new projects, but the website will continue to dominate for the immediate future.
Back in June, I said I would take over the Midwest Waterways FCR Club's website. Worked on it a bit in August. Once I did the NDT website release, I spent < a day getting a skeleton site released. Having based it on the Marshbanks site, it didn't take too much effort.


There are a lot of ways I volunteer my time. For Marshbanks, I chair the fall obedience and rally trials; I am worker organizer for the August hunt tests; I take care of the website. I co-chair the November eye clinic. For AADTC, I help at the fall trials (stewarded this year), and just chaired an obedience match, with sign-up done using the Google Docs framework I've used so successfully for my NDT matches. The ladies who have been running the club's matches are all eager to use the new system, as it greatly simplifies the process.

2013 was a super year for me. I'm grateful I get to spend so much of my time on work that I love so much.