Sunday, January 30, 2011

Training Log for Jan 29

But first, today's weight update: 65 pounds! YES, we're finally below 70 pounds!

Now, about yesterday's retrieve session:
Weather: sunny, dry, 2.5C
Distractions: other dogs, people, one horse

Locations of all retrieves. Blue dots are dummy's, green dots are where I've released her to retrieve.
We did eleven retrieves total. A bit much, in hindsight, but she worked really well the whole time; fast, sure, stubborn. She KNEW where the dummy's were and she was gonna GET them, damnit! Way to go, Luna!

The longest retrieve was nr. 11, in the lower left corner. 241 yards/221 meters, to be exact.

The start of our walk. I'd just gotten off my bike, and this shows Luna's mood perfectly; I'm ready, I'm ready, toss one already! Let's play!

Coming in with dummy nr. 1, 186 yards.
I tossed dummy nr. 2 behind her, in the lower area.
Coming in with dummy nr. 2, 182 yards. The one horse showed up here; when I sent Luna to get this dummy, the horse was at the top of the sandy track, to the left of the tarmac.
Walking away from dummy nr. 3. She voluntarily heels all the way to the release point. Her ears are back because I'm taking a picture, without the lens in her face she looks happier.
Coming in with dummy nr. 3, 229 yards. You can see a person with a GSD in the background, she was about where Luna is in this picture when I sent her to get the dummy. She very carefully went past the person and her dog, and then took off to where she remembered the dummy to be. The drop point is behind the line of trees.

I wanted to take a picture without Luna in it, but I guess this speaks volumes; hey you, stop messin' with that camera and toss another dummy!
Again, hoping I'll tell her to 'Get It!' I tossed dummy nr. 6 behind the thorny bushes, behind Luna in this shot.
Yihaaa! Coming in with dummy nr. 6, 105 yards. This is clearly one of the dummy's that got mauled by a Labrador on our Gundog training camp two weeks ago.
And coming in with the last one, dummy nr. 11, 241 yards!
Dummy's nr. 4 & 5 were tossed between the trees, she got nr. 5 first and then, after a long search, came back with nr. 5.

Dummy's nr. 7 to 10 were again tossed between the trees. She got nr. 8 first, then nr. 9, then nr. 10. Then she searched and searched for nr. 7, but she kept going the other direction right before hitting nr. 7, so finally she came back and said, 'I don't know!' So I walked her a little closer to nr. 7 and reset her. This time she found it!

We had a great time, and I LOVE seeing how much Luna enjoys this game when it is just the two of us. She has great memory, and quite good stamina for finding several dummy's in a row. I love seeing her take off at top speed and come back at top speed!

All in all, we spent two hours in the park, including the walk and cycling to the park. Fantastic weather, but my bike is messed up now. My gears have stopped working, so it's almost as if the chain has come off. Have to remember to fix that, today, cause I need my bike tomorrow!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Training Log for Jan 26

Luna hoping to see her favorite kittycat, while playing ball in the street. Look how fat she was!
A quick note of all the retrieves we’ve done in the park today.
Weather conditions: 5C, muddy, windy.
Distractions: My mom, and our older dog Cedric

R1: Dropped it next to the gravel path leading past the park’s oldest restaurant, Luna saw this. Then I took her with me all the way to the end of the path before I lined her up and sent her to get the dummy. On her way back to me she had to pass a dog - female Rottie with a muzzle on, who ran after her a couple of meters - which she handled beautifully. She just kept right on going, only made an arc around the other dog and was all proud delivering the dummy to me. Great speed both out and back.

R2: Tossed it in the bush when she wasn’t looking. Initially she ran back to the location of the first dummy - which, for shepherd standards was FAR away - and I had to point in the dummy’s general direction and encourage her to search in the right area before she found it. She was working well, just couldn’t see the dummy even when she was right next to it - it’s orange - which I know about. So... a bit messy, but she didn’t give up and, being a shepherd, I LOVE that she ran back to where the first dummy was!

R3: Where was this.... hmmm.... oh, I remember; on the outside of a tall wire fence, between trees but a pretty open area. Again a hard place to see the dummy because the ground was brown, too. Luna saw me drop this dummy. Then, I took her away again, just continued on our walk, and my mom decided to turn left into a gravel path with heavy brush on both sides. I took Luna in here about 30 feet, from where she had no visual of the dummy or it’s general location. Then, I sent her. She went blasting off again, which I love to see because it means that she KNOWS there’s a dummy up ahead somewhere. She was away for a little while, then came back through the brush behind me, no dummy. I could tell she was still working though, just checkin’ if we hadn’t taken off without her, so I reminded her; ‘where’s the dummy?!’ Oh, right, I know! She took off again and came back almost instantly with the dummy in her mouth and along the route we’d taken. Yay! This was great; she had to work out of my sight, a good hundred meters away from me, and she did great! Whoohoo!

R4: I placed the dummy on top of a stone bench, Luna saw this and then I walked away with her. We walked about 200 meters away, and when I was ready to send her, other dogs were running around near the bench. Hmmm... interesting. I sent Luna, figured I could help her if she found the presence of other dogs daunting, but not at all! She ran right to the bench, jumped ON the bench - yay, she had remembered it was NOT on the ground! - and came blasting back to me with the dummy and a grumbling dog - lotta noise that meant nothing - running after her, whom she paid absolutely no attention. Wow, brave girl! I KNOW you can do it! Haha!

After R4 there were no retrieves for a while due to heavy dog traffic. I’m not tossin’ dummy’s with the risk of loosing them! Instead I let her climb up on some log piles, which she loved to do. Nice balance, careful steps and jumps. Good girl!

R5: Placed the dummy on top of a stone electricity box of some kind, it’s as tall as Luna standing on her hind legs. I placed the dummy 1/4 off the edge so she could grab it. Took her away again, about 80 meters because if I took her further I couldn’t see cyclists coming, sent her out, she ran, stood up against the building and took the dummy right off. Then she came running full speed back to me again. Awesome!

R6: Tossed the dummy in the undergrowth, visible to me. Luna saw where it was. Again, walking, walking, walking away. This one was nice, because Luna kinda went on with her own business instead of heeling - with eyecontact! - all the time until I would release her to find the dummy. We walked about 300 meters away, with twists and turns in the road, a crosstrack, and the dummy and it’s location out of sight from where I sent her. No problemo, she blasted off, my mom called our older dog - he’s as deaf as they come, but habits die hard I guess ;-) - which I hoped wouldn’t make Luna turn back before finding the dummy. It didn’t, because when she came back she had it! Great memory stuff. And, most importantly, we had a fantastic time.

Next time I’m gonna try having her stay, and then I’ll walk a good space away and toss some dummy’s. See if she can do those as well. In any case, it’s FUN!

Oh, and now that I've seen the picture at the top of this post; I'll weigh her again sometime today or tomorrow, she's finally slimmed down, so I'm curious to see what the scale says!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A break, a Gundog training camp, a flu, and now this.

Our room on the island.
That sums up what the past weeks have looked like.

From January 9-16 I was away, spending 8 days on one of the beautiful Dutch islands. We went for wonderful walks on the beach and in the forest, we spent 5 days playing around with retrieves, and when we got home I immediately got the flu. Yay!

Today I decided this quiet had lasted long enough, so here's an update!

Our Whistle Sit is not yet ready for use, I think. She still needs the second cue of seeing my hand signal after the whistle. Somewhere these next few days I'll get back to the drawing board for that one, and get my whistle out of the dummy bag in the shed out front.

Luna on the beach on the one nice day we had.
Next, our Gundog training week. This was extremely interesting, as I had a completely different dog this time, even though I've been there five times already and last time was also the Gundog workshop. Hmmm.... Luna was very impressed by the people and by growliness from the other dogs, to the point where she hid behind me, shivering. What the...?!

If I wanted to send her out to do a retrieve, I nearly had to talk her through every step, even though she was immensely proud and happy every time she found one and brought it back to me. So pretty soon my plan for the week was not so much to let Luna figure out how to find the dummy, but my plan became; find the dummy, no matter how much I need to help you. Because I saw that finding and bringing back a dummy made her feel great, and I knew that if she came back with nothing every time, she'd quickly loose interest. That worked, somewhat. She found all the dummy's, brought back all the dummy's, but all from a distance of no more than, say, 100 feet, depending on the shape of the terrain and whether she could see the dummy or not. When she was sent out with other dogs at the same time, she promptly came back and said, 'mommy, HELP! They're gonna eat me!'

So, yeah... that was interesting. The trainer said that Luna was using her 'Bambi act' to not need to do the work, but I couldn't agree with that. Luna has never in her life said, 'I don't WANT to do that'. Now, to me, she was clearly saying, 'I'm not sure I'm supposed to be doing this, is this OK?' And as the week progressed, she needed less and less cues from me in order to get the dummy.

Luna and I watch the friend we traveled with, and her black Lab.
Now I'm thinking... go to the Gundog workshop again with the specific goal of explaining to her that other people and other dogs and what they are doing are not her concern, or just leave it at this and not go there again. I mean, in our normal, everyday life, we do not encounter these issues, and then I wonder what the purpose is in trying to solve them just for this one week a year. I'll be thinking about this for a while to come...

Other than that, the weather was very wet and windy most days, so I didn't get to make a lot of pictures and film.