Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lazy Days

This wraps up one of, if the the, laziest weekends I've ever spent. I'm working on getting over cold #2 of the season and this one has struck my lungs and caused a horrendous cough that's making life no fun. Like usual, the dogs wouldn't let me get away with sleeping in without getting up to put them out around their normal time so both days saw me up and letting them out and serving breakfast around 7 am. From there it was back to bed and restless dogs that clearly needed to get out and do something. I'd had hopes to try to get out yesterday as today was supposed to bring rain and, while very cold, yesterday was to be dry. I just couldn't do it. By today, not doing something wasn't an option. The natives were restless.

We made it to the big park in town around 10:30. This time I wore shoes that were waterproof so I wouldn't feel miserable and be forced to cut our outing short. I decided the dogs and I would get some tracking practice in first. We had originally planned on going out with our friends, Beth and Orra, again but I hadn't felt up to the drive and the extra hour early - and honestly hadn't planned to leave the house at all today. As we all know, plans they do change. The first track I laid was for Leo. We're still working on 5-10-15s in a straight line. I got him out and started to work. He was having a really hard time. He charged to the first article and then just went veering off in a long arc between 5 and 10. I'm still speculating how much of that was goofiness and how much of it was my fault. I remember reading that you should track into the wind. We finished our first track with more than a little help from me, and I laid another track for Vegas. This time I tried to lay it into the wind. She seemed rather clueless and I, more than once, considered letting the dogs romp first and track second. They were both excited and distracted - mostly because we haven't been out of the house as much as they are used to and we hadn't been to the park in quite some time. She, too, required a bit of paw holding for our first track but we got through it.

I put her back in the truck and got Leo out. I had him work her track, all freshly double-laid again. Wouldn't you know it, the little stinker sighted in on every article and basically sight-tracked the thing. Obviously a much quicker method but not our ultimate goal.

Leo put away and third track laid. This time I changed direction again - because the wind did! Boy was this getting complicated. I swapped Leo for Vegas and got to work. She was a bit difficult again and I despaired of her "getting" it. And then she did what I so thoroughly enjoy watching her do in nose work class - she put her nose down, her tail up, and she got to work. For the third stretch from 10-15, she worked beautifully. Yay Vegas!

Of course her time out was over too quick and I put her away to lay Leo's third track. I'm excited to say that he, too, "got" it this time on the third leg. I have to tell a secret though.... I got a little craftier this time around. Last week when picking up the kids from their dad I was wandering Fred Meyer and noticed they had gloves and other winter wear on clearance plus 70% off. I snagged four pair of stretchy knit gloves in forest green and brown. Can you get where I'm going with this one...? You got it. Less ability to site in on the article. Aha! Foiled that little Leo for sure. :) I'd be wearing a pair of green ones with the intention of using them but hoped to get my scent on them first. After his little sighting game of tracking I decided I needed to switch gears. I had been using a white sock and a pair of black and orange leather gloves but they are readily visible on the grass. The green gloves - not so much. His third track was much better!!!

I know by the time I laid Vegas' third track I had spent a lot more time laying track than I had working the dogs but I guess that's just how tracking goes. It was very exciting to see her work it more the third time. We struggled greatly with the wind today, but we had some positive results and I'm learning. That is the exciting part - seeing success and not having my dogs shut down like they lack interest. Leo is sometimes a little too fun-loving and enthusiastic but I won't dampen that. His love of life and his happy spirit are what makes me enjoy and adore him so much. Vegas even when she wasn't working was looking to me for direction. She wasn't shutting down; she just doesn't get it yet. This tells me we need to continue to take it slow but they will find success and ultimately, they will enjoy the work, I believe. Another really cool thing is they're both working out on the line when we get going, too. I just have to remember to hang back and let them work at a distance - something we're so not accustomed to yet.

After we were done with our tracks and everything was picked up, the dogs' harnesses removed, and the truck locked up, we headed over to the dog park for a few. There was only one dog in the large off leash area and two Dobermans in the smaller fenced area. Not sure why they couldn't be out with the rest but it made for pretty boring times and we started to head to the top of the park to instead venture into the woods. A lady came in with her Golden Retriever and Vegas and he took to each other for a few, romping and running. It did my heart good to see her play like that; it's such a rare thing. She really enjoyed playing chase with him and then the cat and mouse of pouncing at each other and whatnot. Shortly thereafter we did head into the woods, an adventure the dogs both adore, and here's a pictorial of our time there.
I'm not sure what this is all about. The last time we wandered the woods it wasn't there. I'm quite certain its man-made...

 Such a good girl, she climbed up here and waited for me to take a picture and give the release command.
 Looking out at the Willamette.
 The city parks department has been at work. This is new, too.

As soon as we got out of the woods and up to the grassy area of the park, Vegas cut loose and did several large, looping laps. She was so silly.

 The stick she wouldn't retrieve behind her.
 The Leo sized stick she did retrieve, and ran around with for a while.
We were home by noon and spent the rest of the day blissfully lazing about, alternating between snoozing and reading a book. The fresh air and romping did the dogs good although Vegas still had a bit of the zoomies tonight with her toy.
And that's that. A weekend under wraps already and heading into a Monday at the start of a very busy week. I'm trying to make up week 6 of the foundation agility class I am teaching by teaching tomorrow night since Leo's session is over and the barn is free. Then Wednesday would be a triple header if I could be in three places at once. Instead of going to the Willamette Valley Great Dane Club meeting or the Sherwood Dog Training Club meeting, we'll be at our fourth week of nose work class. I can't believe how quickly the time has flown by. Tuesday evening I'm going to try to get some tracking practice in unless it's too darn wet and maybe, too, work on some nose work and ball exercises with the dogs. With such a long stretch between agility trials I feel like I need to get "on the ball" to keep Vegas limber and moving. Hope y'all have a great week!

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