I woke up at 4:30am Saturday and Sunday to drive 2 hours to train in the field before the heat of the day. I am amazed. Both dogs just got better and better each day. Holding points, waiting for the flush, retrieving to hand...what the heck?
It's especially puzzling because yesterday I brought home a couple dead quail to practice retrieving. I realized that the ratings test at the end of the month will have retrieving with birds, not a bumper, so I should practice with that. Well...neither of my dogs would retrieve the bird. Oh, they went out just fine to get it, but no way were they bringing it back to me. What the heck??? So frustrating! Yet in the field, they were retrieving pretty well. Go figure. My dogs are always a mystery to me.
I am cautiously optimistic about the hunt test next weekend. I hesitate feeling too confident, because that is usually when things go to pot. It will be Noodle's first hunt test, since she missed the ones in the spring due to an injury. I am hoping she behaves with a brace mate. I guess we shall see! Pretzel isn't ready to test for Senior hunter yet, so we will try to get some high scores for his junior Hunter Advanced title. Gotta have a goal, ya know?
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Redirect! That might end up being my theme for 2018. Don't give up - Redirect instead! I am a goal-oriented person. Yeah, that's putting it mildly. A more accurate description would be that I am obsessive about setting goals and working towards them. Sometimes, though, ya gotta face reality and re-purpose your drive into a new or different venture. Easier said than done? Well, just watch me!
Cadence is looking really good - nice weight, shiny coat, and completely shed out of her baby fuzz. Time for some better photos! I am worried about Corky's feet as I have not been able to get a farrier out to do them in the past few weeks. This is something I miss about Lima - I had plenty of horse connections to get things done. She is now a week overdue, and this is NOT good for her.
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This weekend, we headed to Harrisville, Pennsylvania for a double-double hunt test. Noodle is trying to get her Junior Hunter title, and Pretzel is working towards his Junior Hunter Advanced title.
First of all, let me describe the weather. It rained. Rained. Rained. Poured. It started raining Friday night, and it never stopped the entire weekend. Not for a single moment. I stayed soaked to the skin pretty much all weekend. The birds did not fly. It was crazy!
This weekend, Pretzel was the rock star. He was incredible. He found lots of birds, was rock solid on all of his points, held them for me to flush (or reach down and grab the bird and toss since they weren't flying). I was completely thrilled with how he did. He had all 4 runs qualified, and 3 of them qualified high enough for an advanced rating. Our most awesome moment was on Sunday when he slammed to a point on 4 birds one after the other, and held perfectly to earn perfect 10's across the board!. That was an epic moment. It is amazing how far he's come in less than a year.
Noodle, on the other hand, was a different story. She was a crazed lunatic once she figured out there were birds out there. She decided that since the birds weren't flying, pointing them was unnecessary. She also figured out that the backfield was a waste of time, and before I ever got to the bird field she had run all the way over there, grabbed a bird, and brought it back to me...twice. Needless to say our scores weren't very good. we did have one passing score of all 7's. the rest...well, let's just say they let a LOT of room for improvement.
One cannot deny her enthusiasm. She was literally going out of her mind at the start line. I love her enthusiasm, but hate her total lack of control. Back to training...we will get it together eventually!
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Today was a banner day. Marshall took winners dog for a point, and it was the first time father and son showed together in best of breed. It was amazing to see the two together. Pretzel earned another select dog today. We are creeping slowly towards our ultimate goal of earning 3,000 owner-handled points.
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Ok, something weird is going on. My dogs are behaving! Tonight we went to water retrieve training. This is our last chance to practice retrieving in the water before our ratings test this weekend. Tonight we used chukkar, and not only did both my dogs retrieve, but they brought it to me! Noodle did it with just a little asking, Pretzel finally brought it within arms reach after a lot of begging and sacrifices to the retrieving god. So, Saturday's retrieving rating test sits at about 50/50 - it might happen, or it might not. But tonight, it did happen!
After that, I went to my usual Tuesday late-night agility training session with my friend Deb and her dog. Amazingly, Noodle stayed completely focused on me the entire time (and we trained for over an hour). She never once left me or did anything other than follow my direction or wait patiently to be told what to do. CRAZY!!! This can't be my dog! Either our focus class on Monday nights is really helping, or she is just too tired from retrieve training to misbehave. Who knows? But it made my agility training so much fun tonight!
I entered Noodle in just 2 runs at the end of the day of a CPE trial on Oct. 7th. I would like to see where we are at in our focus training. However, she is really due to come in to season at any time now, so we may have to end up bailing on that trial. I wish she would just come in season and get that darn miserable 3 weeks over with!
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Cadence finally grew up enough to fit into her new purple halter! Today we started a very important lesson - her first tying lesson. I didn't actually tie the lead rope, just looped it around the post and held it while I brushed her. She tested it a few times, but nothing too hard. I even managed to pick her feet out while she was "tied". Of course, she was busy playing with the brush that I set in her grain bucket. I have noticed that if she has something to occupy her mind, she pays no attention to having her feet picked out (even her right hind, which is her sticky one). Now that her nylon halter fits, I can work more on tying. I didn't want to test her while she was wearing that thin leather foal halter - it would break too easily. Once a horse figures out it can break a halter, then it will never respect being tied. Call me crazy, but this is the kind of training stuff that I LOVE. I've been waiting a lot of years to have a baby to train again!
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I took the dogs to do some last minute field training before our ratings test tomorrow. Pretzel was great, held a couple points beautifully. Noodle took off running and disappeared for a while. I have no idea where she went, but she was gone for at least 5 minutes before she came bounding back through the bird field. This terrifies me - this is one instance where I hate her independence! The wind had picked up and she pointed a bird a good 30 feet away. Once again I didn't have much faith in her, and she ended up breaking forward and grabbing the bird (and her bracemate promptly came by and snagged it out of her mouth!). I think tomorrow's shooting ratings should go OK for them. The retrieving ratings is iffy - it is a 50/50 shot whether either dog will feel like bringing the bird back to me. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. I keep reminding myself of my old adage: What will be, will be.
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Today was the day I spent a lot of time training for this summer - the WCA Ratings test.
Today had a 40 degree drop in temperature from yesterday. Yes you read that right! Yesterday it was 90 degrees when we did our field training...hot enough to exhaust my dogs to the point where I was worried. This morning it was hovering in the low 50's, and only got up to maybe the upper 50's by afternoon. We started off the morning with the Shooting ratings. This was basically like a Junior Hunt test. The dogs were paired in braces and we went out to hunt in the bird field. Pretzel was first to go in the morning, braced with Noodle's littermate Hilde. Pretzel was his usual rockstar self, pointing and holding on several birds. Boom! An easy pass.
Noodle's go was a little more dicey. Holy crap she was wild. Unlike our hunt test a few weeks ago, I was able to get her to stay in the backfield until I got up to the bird field. This meant that she didn't have the opportunity to get into the birdfield way ahead of me and start busting birds. She flushed a bird on her own, briefly pointed another one that she chased in to the tall weeds (by tall, I mean waaaay over her head). After a struggle, she came out of the weeds with the bird in her mouth, and promptly had it stolen by her bracemate. Oops! She still managed to pass, which was a great thing.
Both dogs earned their "NSD" title to add to thier names. Pretzel - title #21! For Noodle -this meant she earned points in her 3rd category, giving her the additional Versatility rating from the Weimaraner Club of America. YES!!!
Next was the retrieving ratings test - the thing I was most worried about. First was the land retrieve. Amazingly, both dogs retrieved well - took maybe a little coaxing from me but both brought the bird to me within the circle. This meant they would both now go on to do the water retrieve test.
I thought I would have trouble getting Pretzel in to the water because the air was so cold, but he was perfect. In fact, both dogs were perfect - jumped right into the water, grabbed the bird, and swam directly back to me (Pretzel did try to take a detour to the nearest shore, but the bank was too high to climb). I couldn't believe it...it is always such a crapshoot whether they would actually retrieve back to hand. This now adds the "NRD" title to both of their names...Pretzel's 22nd title ( but who's counting? ME!). I am as proud as can be. We worked hard all summer, especially on the water retrieve. I am so blessed.
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I'm not sure what to think. Noodle has been doing really well in her bad girl agility class, formally known as "Focus Class". I have made great strides in keeping her focus around other people and dogs. Then tonight, a dog that was loose on the course left the obstacles and came running to her rather aggressively. I managed to keep her safe, but I worry that this might be a setback for us. She has a hard time focusing around other dogs. She has her guard up, and I can tell that sometimes the presence of other dogs stresses her. Don't get me wrong, she isn't the least bit afraid of other dogs. She struts around with that "bring it on" kind of attitude, and some dogs accept the challenge. We are making baby steps of progress. I just wonder if it is enough. So many things make her lose focus, and when she does, there is no telling what will happen.
I am learning to read her "stress signals". Lack of eye contact is a big one. When she is stressed, I have to make sure I don't correct her. I almost lost her by doing that tonight - she came off of her contact before I released her and I made a disappointed noise. She immediately decided to go off on her own. I called her right back, and we were able to finish, but it was my mistake to mark the correction at this point. Baby steps. That is my new mantra.
Today I am really disappointed in people in general. That's not saying everyone is disappointing me...but it sure seems like the majority are doing so. I am not sure why people have to be petty and jealous. It almost seems like no one on earth wants anyone else to have any success. They smile to your face, and then gripe behind your back. Common sense would tell me to remove those people from my life, but then I would have about 5 people left...if that. My success does not diminish yours, and vice versa! I don't know, but it makes it really hard to figure out who the true friends are. If you are out there, please make yourself known!
Worry # 2,421: Mark and I are planning a Florida trip at the end of October. It will be the maiden voyage of Zeus, our new motorhome. Oh yeah, and we will be getting married on a remote island in the Ten Thousand Islands. Oh yeah, and Noodle is supposed to come in to season any day now, but is not really showing any signs. If she comes in late, we may have to postpone our trip and the ceremony yet again. I never thought I would say this, but please Noodle, come into season NOW!!! She has less than 2 weeks to start. After that, it will overlap our trip. Ugh. The joys of bitches.
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Today in his agility class, Pretzel took a hard fall off the top of the dogwalk, landed on his side. It was terrible, and he immediately came up limping on that side. He walked it off, and seems better later in the afternoon, but I am watching him like a hawk for any signs that he might have re injured that shoulder. Poor guy. In true Pretzel spirit, he went right back up on the dogwalk without hesitation.
It has rained here for the past 4 days straight, and the property is a mudhole. This means Noodle is going stir crazy. I worked a little on her "around" command in my office, but she has that exercise nailed so I didn't want to needlessly repeat it when she was successful every single time. I decided to work on our "whoa". I started off running around in my office, randomly calling whoa - and she would stop in her tracks. We took this game outside, and she was doing better and better with it - I could be full-out running with her chasing me, and when i would call out whoa she stopped dead in her tracks and waited for a command to proceed.
I also worked on retrieving - waiting at my side when I threw the ball until I released her to retrieve. We had a few successful goes, and a few unsuccessful ones. Rather than telling her "no" when she broke and retrieved, I just withheld her reward (I don't want to discourage her from retrieving to hand). She seemed to be getting it, but we stopped after a few repetitions so that she could digest what she learned.
Field training this weekend, and more waiting to see if Noodle will finally come in to season. My fingers are crossed...she has a week and a half to start!
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Well, it looks like I possibly broke my left hand. Mark was driving me in the new motorhome and asked me to get up and check what was rattling...and when i was walking in the back he slammed on the brakes and I fell HARD. Ended up in the emergency room with a cast, and now I need to see an orthopedic doc next week for a more thorough diagnosis. JUST what i need...NOT. Left hand = Dog showing hand. Damn!!! It hurts horribly. I ain't got time fo' this!
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Cadence's training has come to a halt. Not much I can do (safely) with only one working hand. I went out to see her today, she was laying down and couldn't be bothered to get up so I took a selfie of us on the ground. I spent some time brushing her, but that was pretty much all I can do right now. This makes me very grouchy. I hate this.
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Today in the field I worked Pretzel myself. He tried to eat a bird again, and I really got after him. I am taking home 3 dead quail to train with in the field next to our house this week. I think once I get Pretzel to understand that eating the bird is a big no-no, he will stop. The good thing about Pretzel is that he really wants to do right and please me, so usually when we run into issues it is just a matter of showing him what is expected. I have to make sure that doing right is more rewarding than chomping the bird. I have a plan, and I always feel better about things when I have a plan to execute.
Noodle was great today! I feel a lot better about the hunt test I entered at the end of the month. Now all she needs to do is either come in to season THIS week, or wait until mid-November. Let's see if she cooperates.
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