Sunday, May 31, 2009

Flying Paws Agility Run Thrus

Today we drove to Bloomington for Flying Paws Agility Run Thrus. This is a fairly new club, and they did a great job with the run thrus. We had fun and enjoyed great people. The whole crew got to go, and Ian and Devon ran. Connor got his required time out and thanks to Ana for giving him treats and telling him how smart he was. And of course Page made her presence known.

Devon is entered in her first outdoor trial next weekend. It's a 3-day trial, and she's entered in Open JWW and Novice Standard all three days. She only needs one more NA leg, so my goal is to get her out of Novice Standard and maybe a leg (or two!) in Open JWW. She was running really well this winter and the only reason her Q rate was low was a weave pole issue. We've fixed that problem, and she's working 12 poles easily now.

This run thru was going to be a good test of her confidence on equipment she's never seen before, especially the teeter. Devon has only been to one trial on completely new equipment to her, and she did a great job. However, we haven't trialed in three months, so I didn't know if she was still that confident.

I have learned during the last several classes that Devon wants me to run with her from the start. I can't lead out even to the first jump or she goes around the first jump. This is something I plan to work on, but I'm not ready to do it just yet. I do believe it's just a confidence issue and with more trialing and experience it will fade. Unfortunately with field work and VST ahead of her, she won't have an opportunity to be "immersed" in agility for at least another 6 months.

Below is Devon's very first run. It was a straight-forward Novice course. I decided the two potential problem areas would be the dogwalk and the teeter. The dogwalk is from Affordable Agility and has a PVC base. Devon is very environmentally aware, and she notices anything new or different with equipment especially the dogwalk. The teeter of course has been a problem area in the past, and it was a new teeter in a new place.

I worked hard to make this a trial setting. I packed up last night and this morning. I packed special jackpot treats (tripe and blueberries). We got up early and she only had a half ration of breakfast. I used our same trial pre-run routine: trotting, stretching, tugging and finally food right before our run. For food, I stuck with hot dogs from my right pocket. After thinking about the potential stressors of the dogwalk and teeter, I decided to put three pieces of steak in my left pocket. That was the side I would be on for her contact performances, so I put them in my pocket if needed but didn't show her in any other way I had them.

Devon knew the dogwalk was early in the run when I set her on the start line. In fact she almost went around the second jump because I made an assumption she'd take it. She committed to the dogwalk just fine, but I knew she because a little hesitant on the way up because of the PVC bases. There was also a U shaped blue tunnel under the dogwalk which caused her to slow even more on the middle. 

At this point I decided she had been extremely brave and deserved a reward for the dogwalk. It would let her know I had food, but I felt she did work hard and I should reward it. When she came down on the dogwalk, she was all ready for the tunnel, and the little bit of steak caught her completely off guard. She was thrilled, though!

The rest of the course was very nice, including the teeter. I knew when she hit it and went up she'd be fine. I rewarded her with two more pieces of steak and her tail shows how pleased she is! I did realized that when I praise her at the end of a run I shouldn't grab at her. She didn't like this and showed stress, so with later runs I asked her for an "UP" or just cheered her as we moved to the leash.

On Devon's second run, I selected the same course. She was much more confident through the whole thing and much faster. However on the start line, she looked for her videographer. When she didn't see him she looked around like, "Mom, we can't start until my videographer is here." You know how this girl likes a crowd!

Below is Devon's third run. I tried a different course and asked Leslie to act as judge. I thought I'd try a lead out, but it didn't work. I wasn't sent or confident in my presentation, so it wasn't all Devon's fault. I just have to accept right now we aren't going to get it. 

The rest of the run is very good except the from the tire to the double. We were running down hill and Devon started to curve into me after the tire toward the A frame. I did push her out with my left hand which she seemed to read, but at the last minute she started to come in again and I was slightly behind her. At this point I had to slow down and stop because I would have run into her and/or tripped over her. 

I work hard not to show Devon when there's a mistake on course, but this one I couldn't help. The resulting stress caused Devon to jump on Leslie (who I don't think was expecting all 60 pounds of Devon full force on her). Once I got her collected, she finished the run very well. 

I had planned the third run to be Devon's last, but I didn't want to end on that note. I decided to do that course one more time. Devon was very confident again knowing where she was going. I had decided to "give her" the A frame on this run, but she was also being considerate of me! She decided to run straight at the double even though I did cue the A frame. I adjusted in a split second and supported the double and she ran confidently onto the teeter and finished the course. 

The only thing I saw I didn't really like was a deterioration of her table performance. She is supposed to have an automatic down on the table, but it fell apart. I'm going to have to work the table more and reward the auto down.

Overall Devon had a great day; and  because of this run thru I'm confident going into the trial this weekend. She's a great dog who works very hard to do the right thing for me. 

Ian also played in a couple of runs. I ran the master's course they had set. Here is his first run, and you can tell we are really rusty as a team. He broke his start line, then went around the first jump when I lead out. Now in fairness I didn't give him the best direction, but he's a pretty seasoned dog and should have read it. There were also several tight turns, and I can tell I was a little late in cuing them and he wasn't reacting quite as fast as if we'd been working regularly.

Because it was getting warm and I had to work harder on Ian's runs (since the course was harder), I got pretty wiped out running him. I was there more to concentrate on Devon's runs, so Ian only got two times out in the ring. I think he enjoyed himself, and he was very willing to do more. He howled and screamed from the van when I was running Devon (the cacophony probably drove everyone batty for a minute!).

I should take a minute to talk about Page, who was a real trooper. She did some barking in her crate and not always when the other dogs were barking. At one point I told her "quiet" and she was. I let her wait a few seconds, then I tossed a piece of steak into her crate and told her it was a good quiet. I was waiting for her to bark again just so she could get a quiet and piece of steak. I've been reluctant to reward with food because I didn't want to "train" the problem. However, she continued to be quiet, so a minute later I tossed another piece of steak in and told her good quiet. From then on she only barked when the other dogs threw a fit (which was when I was running Devon).

Page also showed some "shyness" at a new object for the first time. This was extremely mild, but enough for me to notice. Thank goodness we have a nose touch! She shied at a short metal trash can with a plastic bag in it. I said, "Isn't that the funniest thing?" in a really high voice, and Page started to wag and go near it. I praised her, and she investigated it, most of the fear gone. I encouraged her toward it, and she offered a quick passing touch of it with her nose - and out came the hot dogs! That was it! She continued to nose touch it and even gave me a paw on it. The fear was gone and she had a good experience!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Page's first TDX track

The other day when I was driving through the metro park I went past my favorite TDX training area. I realized that I've given Page TD-type tracks, VST-type tracks and high cover, but I haven't given her difficult cover or trees yet. This spot was next on Page's tracking list!

This particular tracking spot is a favorite, because it has at least knee high cover with grass and bushes, trees and a mowed path to cross. Page's track today was a total of 270 yards, and it was aged about 15 minutes. This is by far the longest track Page has ever done; her last longest track was 150 yards. 

The start was on short grass and immediately into cover. This leg ran 76 yards and went between bushes higher than my head. I took a left turn and went 62 yards through more cover and crossed a short mowed path back into cover for a right turn. After the right turn we had a short leg of 50 yards through cover that had small to medium sized sticks under the grass. After another right turn, we went 82 yards to the glove but not before crossing that mowed path again.

Just for grins, I took the video camera again. I'm REALLY glad I had the camera to get this track, because Page did a super job! She was at least 10 ft. and usually more than that in front of me. She worked the turns very well. The mowed path did cause her problems, but the second time she did it she did a wonderful job of working it out. 

She struggled on her second turn which was close to a deer trail, but again she worked this out nicely, too. At one point you can actually hear her sniffing as she worked out this turn.

I realized after the VST track on Monday that Page didn't need food on grass. On Wednesday when we tracked in high cover, I only used food drops on the turns. Yesterday Steve told me he also didn't think she needed food drops on veg but still needed one or two on the non-veg. Today I couldn't help myself and still put food drops on her turns. She only saw them on the second turn, and clearly they were a distraction as she was working out her problems. She knows her job, and she doesn't need food anymore!

Here is the video of her first TDX track. Just like the last time, you don't get to see the start because that's too hard for me to tape. In many places you can see the faint line of the track. You can also occasionally see my orange trail markers where I marked turns and entrances back into cover. I had to work the tracking line a couple of times, so the video takes a couple of wild rides; but all in all I think it was really fun to tape this track. I do add some commentary, so I hope you enjoy it!

I have to say my favorite part of watching Page track is when she finds her article. Her tail wags fast and furious, and she's volunteering a down on the article. What a good little girlie!

More on Devon's field training

On Wednesday, we had a good field session with a permanent blind and a sight blind with factors. I've done this permanent blind about 7-8 times starting last fall when I first taught it to her. But it's been the two times this spring that we've done it when I felt like Devon actually understood the concept.

After she did the permanent blind, I turned her 90 degrees and asked for a sight blind. I used a black stick in the ground fence post with bright pink streamers hanging 8-10 inches at the top. I put the post in front of a tree and put two orange and two white bumpers under it. 

The sight blind was about 65 yards away from us when I sat Devon and asked her "Where?" She had to go through knee high cover, then an open dirt patch and then back into cover before she found her bumpers. Devon seemed to lock right away, so I sent her. Much to my complete shock, she lined it! I was thrilled!

I decided to repeat it, and this time she surprised me, too, but not in a good way. She locked, she sent, she ran her line; but as soon as she got to the dirt patch, she got distracted and went to the left sniffing. I blew a sit whistle and she blew me off! I yelled at her to sit, and she still ignored me. So I walked toward her and she started eating something. I'm sure she was distracted by cat or raccoon scent and/or poop.

When I reached her (and she hadn't heard me coming), I grabbed her collar and told her to sit. Boy did that ever shock her! Me coming to get her and getting a hand on her and making her sit was more than enough correction for her to know she was in deep, deep trouble! 

At this point you might be wondering why I didn't give her a collar nick. That would have been an affective and warranted correction. However, the collar battery was dead. I realized it when I put it on her at the beginning of the session. 

From the point of correction, I had her sit and then gave her a right back to the blind. She did a nice job and got her bumper. We went back to my original point, and I ran it two more times. The next time Devon took a few steps to the right (opposite) of her point of correction and the last time she ran it straight. I would still call it a great session even with the correction.

Today we did another three in a row drill. I used the blind posts instead of buckets. The posts were 25 yards apart. I was about 30 yards from the first post and 65 yards from the farthest post on the angle. 

From the left, Devon does this drill very well. However, from the right we had to battle suction on the middle post. She sucked in twice before I started walking up. She sucked in two more times before she was successful, which was almost 30 yards closer to the post. Once she got it, I backed up halfway then all the way back to my original spot. Once at my original spot, she was able to go between the middle and farthest post just fine.

Although this problem was frustrating, I have to say she is far better on this drill than in the past. Before when she's struggled I've had to walk up and I've not been able to get all the way back to my original line. I really see such great improvement in her skills. That success combined with yesterday's success at lining in the water and for a bird on a blind, I can see we're getting closer to that goal of an SH after her name!

Devon's most excellent day (Page had fun, too)

Friday was an absolutely beautiful early summer day in central Indiana. Clear blue skies and mild temps. We kind of "took the day off" getting a late, slow start. In the afternoon, the girls had a "pond play date" at the Ripley's with Golden friends Archie and Zoe. 

I'm not sure which dogs were more excited, Devon and Page at seeing doggie friends and water or Archie and Zoe at having friends over to play! We headed down to the pond with dokens, Cool Kongs, a floating duck and a floating ball. I wanted to see if Page could figure out how to retrieve in the water, so I thought some of these smaller toys would help.

All four Goldens hit the water and got right in. Devon is usually very reserved about retrieving with other dogs around, even if there are enough bumpers for everyone. Apparently Archie and Zoe aren't "other dogs," and Devon is much more comfortable with them. Not only did she retrieve with them in the water, but she competed for bumpers with them. Seeing her trying to beat the other dogs to the bumpers was a completely new sight for me! Of course if there were more dogs than objects to retrieve, Steve and I just threw more stuff out there.

In the fun of "raining" retrieving toys, one of the Cool Kongs got left in the pond. I decided to see if Devon would send to the toy in the water. It was hard to see because the dark blue Kong was on the dark water in the shade. It was about 40 yards out into the pond. I called Devon to heel, asked her "Where?" and she locked straight in front of her. I sent her on a "back" and she swam straight as an arrow out to the Kong and retrieved it! And she didn't cheat on the way in! What an awesome girl!

Later in the playtime, another Cool Kong got left in the pond. I again called Devon over and lined her up. When she locked, I sent her. This time once she got in the water, she started going left of her initial line. I didn't have a whistle (bad mom) and she doesn't handle in water yet. I decided to say a quiet, "No, no" and see what would happen. Devon changed course and got right back on her initial line and got the Kong. What a great girlie!

Page had fun with the big dogs running in and out of the water and swimming. She did retrieve one ball, but that actually gave us all a scare. She thought once she got the ball, she needed to hold it up out of the water. When the head goes up, the butt goes down and this doesn't make for good swimming. Her front feet came out of the water as she "swam" and then she started sinking. I watched and took one step toward the water and then decided that if her chin sank into the water I was going in. Just before her chin got wet, she recovered and made it to shore. Of course like a good little retriever, she never dropped the ball!

After much swimming, we all headed to the very nice porch to chat and let the dogs dry off and nap. When the bird call clock on the wall went off, Devon's head came straight up and she started scanning for marks to come down in the yard. She didn't give up for some time looking for birds. When it went off a second time, she got up and followed the sound to the corner of the porch! She really wanted some birds. 

A few minutes later after exploring the garage with Steve, Archie and Zoe, Devon came trotting back out with a duck in her mouth (it was dead). Janet and I asked where she found that, and a grinning Steve said he gave it to her. I said she'd have to work for it!

So much to the disappointment of all the adult Goldens, they went in their crates and I took a sight blind pole and the duck and went off across the yard to find a nice blind spot. A few minutes later I heeled Devon to a spot about 50 yards from the blind. I asked her to sit, I asked her "Where?" and she locked onto the sight blind. It didn't take her long to line the blind and her tail wagged 100 mph when she found her duck! This field stuff is really coming together nicely!

Page was not nearly as impressed with the duck as Devon was. It was much more fun when Devon had the duck and was playing keep away. We brought a wing home, though, and Page was more interested in that. I'm not too worried. With her pedigree I think Page will like ducks just fine!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Page's VST tracking

When starting Page in tracking, my goal was to introduce non-veg very quickly. Since Page is a "clean slate" she doesn't know tracking non-veg is "harder," so I didn't want it to be hard for her. I remember watching Devon as a puppy track on lots of surfaces as she was walking around in her daily life. I wanted Page to do this and know it was part of the game she was learning.

What I learned from tracking Page on non-veg right away, is that even though she is a blank slate, she recognized tracking non-veg was different than veg. Even though she had very limited experience (all of four tracks in her little life), she did work her first non-veg transition just like an adult dog and she didn't follow the track right onto the non-veg. After some encouragement and more experience, she's doing much better with non-veg just as she's doing better with the whole tracking game in general.

This is a good example of the types of non-veg tracks I've given Page recently. Although it looks like this track is a two turn track, the initial leg was really a soft curve to the left toward the front of the building. I'm still using a single kibble food drop randomly on the track approximately 10 yards apart. Page's end article also has kibble in it.

On the concrete areas of this track, I used water with hand prints every couple of steps to add extra scent. I put a piece of kibble on the second hand print as a reward. 

At the end of this post is a video of this track. I got the idea to carry the video camera as Page tracked, but I'm not sure how affective this video is at showing her tracking abilities! I'll describe what happened on the track to give you some context in what is on the tape.

It's too bad I couldn't get the start on video. Page has a very enthusiastic start. She knows when the harness goes on in the van what she's going to do; so out of the van all she can think about is finding that start flag. When she sees it, she runs to it in all her puppy enthusiasm! Once she gets her scent, she's off!

Page tracks very nicely off the start, but she was to the right of the track on the first leg. This could have been due to the curve of the track to the left and/or the wind. She did get distracted once and found a food drop along the way. Although you cannot hear it on the video, there was a thunderstorm to our south and the thunder rolls were noticeable. 

Page searched the transition onto the sidewalk to the right before committing into the sidewalk. You can see the hand prints here since the track was only about 10 minutes old when I ran it. She also went right going off the sidewalk into the grass. 

After the sidewalk, she was distracted by a storm water drain to our right near the building. She really wanted to go check it out, but because she was on a 6 ft. leash, I wouldn't let her. I think the backwards glares I'm getting from her are pretty funny. Clearly I'm cramping her exploration desires here!

She finally gets back to work and tracks very nicely through the grass, through the mulch bed and onto the concrete at the entrance of the school. You'll see as she goes onto the concrete, she's visually distracted by small black bits of mulch that look like her small kibble. She tastes, then discards several bits of mulch! She also gets me hung up in the bicycle rack (sorry for the camera motion there). 

It's interesting Page pulls in toward the entry door in this area. This is exactly what the scent does at entrances, and she reads it well. She was also using her extra hand print scent across the walkway, too. 

Halfway across the entry area, she loses interest and sits. I'm guessing this was because the conditions turned difficult. I was pleased she did get back to work with encouragement, and again the hand prints were great motivators here. Once back in the mulch she tracked with a little crittering! 

Just past the mulch we had another distraction. Two boys on bicycles rode past talking very loud. At the last minute Page saw them and took off toward their bikes. You can hear them on the tape yelling loudly after she did that. That's a pretty big distraction for a 13 week old puppy! I was really pleased she got right back to work after they went by!

Page did some of her best tracking through the grass after the "boys on bikes" distraction. The grass was not lush through here, so I was impressed. She gets to her turn and just indicates it and starts to work it when we had yet another distraction - a rabbit. You can't see it, but when you see her sit, she's very politely asking for the rabbit. Track, what track? I want the rabbit, please!

Ok, lady, if you won't give me the rabbit, I'll get back to work. Luckily I had laid kibble every two steps past the turn for a total of four drops. This got her back to the new leg and momentarily interested in tracking again. 

Unfortunately at this point, Page starts to fade. This was the longest track to date I'd asked her to do, and this is where it showed. I had given her two non-veg scenting areas, and she'd had several distractions on this track. In addition, the vegetation was sparse on this new leg after the turn. You have to bear with her searching for the track and going off to the left of the track for several seconds. And it's hard to tape a tracking puppy when she goes behind you!

But once Page picked up the track, she just nailed the end of it. I'm sure she scented her glove with her jackpot in it several yards before she found it. In fact, she found it before I even saw it because I was taping. 

It's also interesting she volunteered to give me a down and several nose touches on the article. You can tell just an hour before we tracked, I was working with Page on nose touches to a target since that's what she gave me at the article. Hey, if she starts defaulting to this article performance, I'm fine with it!

So I hope you enjoy the video. I'm not sure what it shows, but it was fun to do and review. As I said in an earlier post, you can also see how great she looks in her bright pink collar and puppy tracking harness. She does truly glow!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day training

We spent Memorial Day training and relaxing with friends. Before breakfast, we had an early morning training session in the building with Page and Devon. Then we hit the road (the girls were really voting for breakfast) for a short tracking session with Page and some more obedience work for Devon. We were trying to beat a thunderstorm rolling in from the south. 

More on Page's track in the next post, but Devon's obedience session was fantastic. She's changing speed extremely well, and we're really together on cuing sits. We're working on getting finishes to the right and the left with both hand signal and verbal, and those are also coming together very well. Now it's down to refining the little things, like pivots and other fine heeling skills. I've never had a dog that loves obedience as much as Devon, and she's really making me enjoy it, too!

We just beat the rain, and after the dogs ate a late breakfast they napped as the temperatures actually dropped and I pulled a sweatshirt on. In spite of the rain, we spent the afternoon at K9 Athletes having a cookout/pitch-in and spending time with training friends. It was a great afternoon. 

The rain eventually went away for Devon to play on the agility equipment. She did a very nice job on all the equipment, including the teeter. She did bail off the first time but got right back on and was solid every other sequence. Her weaves are very accurate; and although they aren't fast, I'll take accurate right now.

I think Devon's favorite part of the day was getting pets from her friends. She especially liked one little boy and would have sat with him all day for pets! Page also got her socialization time. She enjoyed eating grass clods from the mower and meeting new people. Page also tried her very best to convince Dr. Bonnie that she needed to share everything on her plate. She should know by now Dr. Bonnie is no push over! And she wanted to follow Mike anywhere he was going when he walked past with a pan full of hot dogs! This girl is her mother's daughter all right!

On the way home, it looked like it was done raining for the day, so I chanced laying three VST starts for Devon. Remember I said that was on our agenda! I have the map here, but it's very hard to see because the last satellite image is from a couple of years ago during construction of this building.

The first start was 50 yards in lush lawn with a right turn across a drive, up and over a mulch island, across another parking lot entrance and a leather article at the end of another mulched island under a bush. I didn't lay any chalk or extra scent. The first start was 3.5 hours old when we ran it, and all of the tracks were approximately 100 yards.

Devon did a picture perfect start, but I did give her a straight on approach to the track. She only circled once on this start and tracked very strong. She did 2-3 circles on the turn, but that's because the track transitioned onto the non-veg in less than 10 yards; I think she was truly working the transition and not the turn. Once into the drive area, she tracked straight as an arrow to the glove.

The second start was 35 yards of short, patchy grass to a mulched bed, across a drive to another mulched island, across a parking lot to a gravel divider strip/island and her leather article was in the gravel island under a rock. I gave Devon an 90 approach to the flag, and this time she worked the start much harder. She circled a couple of times before committing to the start, but once committed she was on it and pulling strong. 

Devon made short work of the rest of the track. She does work her first transition to non-veg pretty well before committing. However once she was out there, she worked the islands and pavement very well, tracking straight to her article.

The third track started again on lush lawn. It was a 32 yard start with a right turn and 15 yards later a mulch bed into a parking lot. She then had to angle across the lot, across the gravel divider, across another lot to a mulch island where her article was hidden beside a light post. 

I again brought Devon into the start at a 90 degree angle, this time with the start to her right instead of her left. She's stronger when the track goes left, and I think we've worked more of these types of starts. Devon struggled more with this start, circling several times and back tracking the start. Again, once she committed, she did a good job and got into the track. 

I can also say Devon was getting tired at this point, too. She'd had a long day with little nap time, and this was now the third "sport" she'd trained today. She worked the first turn several times and then committed into the mulch bed and then the parking lot. She worked well to the gravel island, but once she got past it, she stalled. After circling in the same area three times, I called her in for a rescent. This did the trick and she dropped her nose and tracked directly to the article. 

I was very pleased with this session. Devon's last two VST sessions have been short yardage, but I believe we've gotten a lot of good training in. Her next track might have to be a little longer, but we'll see how the weather holds out this week.

VST Track in Bloomington

We spent Saturday morning tracking in Bloomington with friends. Bloomington is home to Indiana University, and I didn't realize until I was driving home that I wore my Purdue University t-shirt that day. Guess I was making a statement in support of my alma mater without even realizing it! 

I laid this VST track for Devon at 7:45 a.m. It was 64 degrees with 80% humidity when I laid it. We ran it at 10:35 a.m., and it was about 77 degrees with 56% humidity when we ran it. There was no breeze, and it was heating up to become a very warm and muggy day. The track was 326 yards long with 176 yards of non-veg, or 54%. Devon did an outstanding job with this track. 

She struggled on her start, circling a lot. I see working on starts in our future! Devon double checked herself several times on the first transition onto the driveway. I laid some extra scent with hand prints, but no chalk except for the MOT turn. Devon did a much better job on her entry into the parking lot.

Devon worked the MOT pretty hard, and she was really getting hot. She did put her nose down right on the chalk. It didn't take her long to work through it. She handled the next turn along the curb very well, committing to it after checking the curb to her right. The metal article was a nice reward there.

There was a loading dock area and dumpster to the left of Devon's track through the next parking area. As we started the track, a trash truck came and emptied the dumpster, so I wondered how a trash truck right on her track right before she ran it would affect her track. Devon did pull down into the loading area and sniff the area a lot, but generally worked right through this area very well.

Out of the last parking lot and into the grass for a veg turn looks straight forward on the map. However, there were dozens of people coming up from the soccer fields below to their vehicles parked at the school. In fact, most of these people were walking close to or on this turn. Devon had to track straight at these people, looking for her turn. 

This was where Devon was most impressive on her track. She worked the turn hard as kids and adults walked by, even two kicking soccer balls right beside her and across her path! The temperature shot up from 72-82 within that hour and the sun and humidity made it very warm. The plastic article just past the turn was a perfect placement for her, because it focused her on the track since she struggled with the turn. 

After she found her plastic article, Devon made quick work of the end of the track. She tracked right through the mulch in the playground area and the rubber coated surface around the slides and the blacktop on the way out of the playground. She cut the last corner because she winded her final article. This was very interesting because there was a plastic toy in the ground near the turn that she didn't even glance at; she knew it wasn't hers.

With all the distractions and the kids and adults working and playing around her, Devon tracked very well. I'm glad our last several tracks have had people on them wanting to pet her. Devon understands that sometimes she gets to "talk" to these folks and other times she must work through it. She's getting more ready for her tests with each practice track we do!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Page's first swim

Today is our first "ozone action day" of the summer. The temps are in the mid-80s and the humidity is up. After tracking Page and a field drill for Devon, I decided the girls needed a swim. We headed for a pond I have permission to use at the back of an undeveloped part of a subdivision. It's a lovely, heart-shaped pond and great for field training.

With the way Bizzy and Goose love the water and with her brother Trix swimming in the Atlantic Ocean earlier this week, I had a feeling Page would be swimming. Devon went right in and swam waiting for her bumper to be thrown. Page went in after her but stopped when the bottom fell out. But when Devon swam back with the bumper, Page swam out to meet her!

Page went pretty close to Devon so Devon could "save" her if she got in trouble, but you could tell Page got her "sea legs" pretty fast. She swam quite a bit close to the shore in big circles. She went out for one bumper, but she couldn't figure out how to get it in her mouth so she swam over it. 

Page did want to follow Devon out farther but didn't quite have the courage to do it today. I can tell it won't be long before Page is right out there with her big sister in the middle of the pond. Devon could do without that, so I might have to swim them separately. In fact, Devon could really do without being pounced on when she swims to shore like Page did once. I can see some flashy water entrances in Page's future!

Tracking Devon

Ok, I have to post a quick note about tracking Devon. She has done a lovely job of tracking recently. I've been tracking at local schools and churches. In the last four times we've tracked, Devon has been stopped on three tracks by people who want to pet her, including kids! I think this is fantastic training for her and she's actually doing a better job of tracking after she gets a "petting break!"

I laid a track last week at a church. It was Friday evening and there were only three cars in the parking lot when I laid it. Of course, when I came back to run it, there were 100 cars in the lot (including parked on Devon's track) and I could tell a kids program was just letting out. 

Devon did a great job of ignoring the people and tracking. One woman was watching her intently, and I smiled at her. She said, "Is your dog working?" I said, "Yes ... but would you like to pet her?" This nice woman broke out in a huge grin and said that yes she really would! She said she'd be right back, so I pulled Devon off the track. I figured she was going back to get the boy she walked out with, but she was just transferring some stuff into another car. She raced back and crouched down and got the full Devon therapy dog treatment. She told me she had lost her two Malamutes in the last year and was now dog-less and missed her dogs so much. Devon knew it, and really helped her out!

When she was done with her pets, I got Devon back to the track and told her "track." I wasn't expecting much, especially since we were in the middle of the parking lot and a long series of non-veg tracking across asphalt, mulch and gravel and we were right where all the people were getting into their cars that were parked on Devon's track. To my delight, Devon picked up her track and tracked like a star across the lot to her glove. It was almost like she knew all those people were watching her and she wanted to show them how brilliant she was!

On Sunday, we tracked at a school. My dad came along to be the gallery. Devon was tracking strong, and once again there were kids on the playground. Usually I call out and tell the parents what I'm doing so they won't worry. I didn't even get the chance before a dad said to his kids, "hey there's a dog let's go pet it." Notice this was a dad ... I wonder what mom would have said.

Two parents and three kids later with my dad grinning behind us, I asked Devon if she was going to track. She immediately got back to work, tracking right around one little boy through the rubber tire mulch. 

On her way out of the playground, I had tucked a metal article under a bush. She turned and gave the exact spot a thorough sniffing and finally tracked on. I didn't react because Devon has outstanding article indications and retrieves. Yep, there was no article there. Someone had taken our article, but Devon did a fantastic job of indicating it had been there. This would have passed any VST, I'm sure!

Devon's track Wednesday was very nice until she got to her first MOT. It wasn't marked with chalk but was marked with hand prints in water. It was aged 3.5 hours. Unfortunately she really struggled in spite of several water breaks and rescenting. I finally showed her the turn, and she tracked strong on the new leg. She also got the second MOT in the lot with no problem. You can tell tonight's track will be more MOT work!

Tracking Page

Page is really getting into tracking. We did some veg tracks starting at 9 weeks, but she didn't "take them on the road" well. I also wasn't good about my consistency in tracking her. About 2 weeks ago I decided I should track her more often (on short tracks) until she really understood the game. This strategy has worked well.

Page knows what the harness is and knows when it goes on what we're doing. She's immediately looking for her start flag when she comes out of the van. She's also pulling me toward the start article and giving it a good sniff. For the first few times tracking, the flag was a big distraction! It was so much fun to attack the flag and try to rip it apart! But now she ignores the flag and gets right to work.

Earlier this week we went to the local metro park for another new location to track. I went to a spot I like very well for straight line puppy tracks. I put in the start flag and bent to place the start article when something went past me. I didn't think anything about it until a bird swooped by my head. "HEY!" And here it came again! 

I was being dive bombed by this swallow! And she was serious; she came at me at least 6 times! I was putting my start way too close to her nesting box. Like I said, I've laid tons of tracks here, but this year I retreated and put my track on the other side of the road! Ms. Swallow preferred my change of location.

This was a 75 yard track, with food every 3 steps for the first 20 yards, every 4 steps for the next 20 yards and then every 6 steps (or every 5 yards) for the next 25 yards and no food for the last 10 yards. Page did an outstanding job with this track and barely stopped for any food drops. 

The next day I took this new confidence to non-veg. I laid a track across a two lane blacktop drive. I had 40 yards of veg before the non-veg. I put beef as my food drops every 4 to 6 steps. Then when I got to the non-veg, I used water with a hand print and a small piece of beef every other step across the drive. Once we got to the veg, she only had two food drops before the glove 30 yards after the drive.

The last time Page did this non-veg, she struggled and really didn't track across it. This time, she tracked very strong to the curb. From the curb, she walked out to the drive a couple of steps but never put her head down even with the beef. Finally I pointed to the drive and said, "track" but never leaned over and actually touched the ground. Page turn her head and looked where I pointed, saw the food drop and ate it, contemplated the situation before her and then trotted across the drive on her track to continue tracking in the grass. 

Page never dropped her nose to sniff the pavement, and she never ate the food drops on the pavement but walked right by them. I did get the feeling she used her nose. Very interesting. 

Today I decided to spread out the food drops even more and go with a low value food drop (kibble) since she was ignoring most of them anyway. I went to a place where I could track across a gravel driveway for another section of non-veg, and on a whim I decided to add in a turn. Usually I train tracking in this order: length, age, turns. However, Page is tracking so strongly, I wanted to see what she would do with a turn. 

I put a food drop in a footstep every 10 yards for the first 30 yards to the gravel drive. Then I put a food drop in every other foot step across the driveway. I switched back to every 10 yards until I got to the turn. On the turn, I mashed the grass down so I could tell where the turn was. Then I did an open turn to the left with a food drop in every other step for 6 steps then one more at 5 yards and then back to every 10 yards to the glove. The total track was around 80 yards. 

Page did a fantastic job with this track. She didn't get any food drops until the gravel drive. She got the first food drop here, and then used her nose (I heard her sniffing) to track across the driveway. She got the first food drop in the grass, but she didn't get any more across the driveway.

Page also didn't hardly notice her turn. She kept her nose down and just turned along with the track on rails. The first food drop she got was the one 6 steps past the turn! Then she tracked confidently to her glove.

I would love to get video of Page tracking; she's doing so well! And you should hear people's reaction when I say Page is tracking. They cannot believe it! I'm tracking with friends tomorrow, so I'll try and get some video. I haven't yet figured out how to hold a camera along with the leash and get her off the start line. But you can't miss Page - she has a bright pink harness to match her bright pink collar! She glows!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Page's "big girl" collar

I officially removed Page's puppy collar today. It still fit, and I hated to do it. It means she's growing up. But I feel more comfortable with her having a collar that says REWARD and has my phone number on it. 

It's so hard to find collars I like for Goldens. I don't like 1 inch wide collars. My Goldens are smaller, so a 1 inch wide collar looks too big on them. I found embroidered collars on that were narrower but still went past 20 inches. Unfortunately, they only had bright pink and not raspberry. So, Page became bright pink; she practically glows with this collar on! Frankly, I think the bright pink collar suits her personality just fine! What do you think?

Don't worry, even though Devon's playing submissive here, she let's Page know when Page has crossed the line!

Sorry this photo is blurred, but I couldn't help posting it. Page has became a shoe stealer in the last couple of days. It's funny she's just started stealing my shoes now that we're tracking almost every day. Devon is a big shoe stealer, and she also likes socks, too. She likes anything that smells like me. I know this is kind of a "dog thing," but it's funny to see my tracking girls want to have things with my scent on them; the boys don't do this.

One more photo from today. Again I'm sorry it's blurry but I had to post it (the Blackberry doesn't always take the best photos). This photo was taken late this afternoon. Page was wiped out from tracking and a woods walk before lunch and lots of outside time after lunch. She was sacked out at the base of the daybed because I was sitting there. I moved, and she didn't. After turning over a couple of times, all you could see was feet! It almost looks like Devon tried to hide her so we'd all forget about her!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Here I come!

This morning I was doing a little light housework while the girls were outside. I looked out a couple of times and Page was sitting by the door to the training building. Our usual routine is to train first thing in the morning before breakfast. Because we're going to the kennel club tonight, I skipped this morning's training session so I could do it there before Devon's class. But there Page sat for about 5 minutes waiting for someone to come train her. It was so cute! 

I always look for times when I can reinforce the come whistle, and this looked like one of those times. Once again thanks to Lise, Gayle and Marcy for putting a wonderful foundation on these Game Birds. Keep your eye on the corner of the building for a little yellow speck to come flying through the grass to the deck!

When she got in the house, she raced to her crate thinking she was going to get another breakfast. She was even chattering her teeth she was so excited! She had to make do with a couple of puppy biscuits instead, which I think she swallowed whole!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Page's latest training clips

Since I had the camera out, I taped some additional training this morning. I really do like taping these training sessions, because it shows me what I'm doing wrong. 

This first clip is of "set ups" or a left finish. The goal is to get the dog in heel position as if you are going to start a heeling pattern. You'll see I'm moving my hips and knees when I'm moving her into position, which I don't like at all. I love what Page is doing, and it's so sad I don't have lean over to give her a treat anymore! She's getting bigger!

Here is Page's backing. She's doing a nice job; now I need to add more distance with her.

Here is Page's accordion or fold-back down. I also had the tug toy in my pocket, so we got to see she's almost as steady on a down as she is a sit stay! Good girl!

That's some of what Page has been working on. Maybe we'll get more on tape later in the week.

More Crate Games

This post is by request from our friends at AgileGold and Tails of Gold. We have been working Crate Games with Page, and I really like what I'm seeing. 

The first thing you'll see in this clip is that Page is sitting in the crate, and she doesn't release until I say, "OK." I'm also glad you can see the distraction of the tug toy. Page loves to tug, but she loves the crate even more because she gets food in there. Here's our first session of the day with a release to the tug toy. BTW, this tug toy was made especially for Page by our friend Rachel Humke. Rachel made sure to use Raspberry colors!

The thing I was really pleased with is how well Page went back into the crate. We need to work more drive into the crate, which I haven't worked. You can see there is very high value in the crate for her. I got the Sheepy Tug, which is Page's favorite tug and this was a higher value than the other tug. I think this value will change as she gets older.

Finally, I wanted to see if the stays we got in the crate transferred to stays out in the open. You can tell by the video below they did transfer. Frankly, I'm thrilled that I got this much stay with movement and distractions of playing with a tug toy and a 12 week old puppy!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Busy day

Today was another busy day of training for Devon and Page. We started with a morning training session in the building. These sessions include obedience and agility foundation and tricks for Page and obedience for Devon. 

Page is really doing a nice job in her training, and we'll get video soon. Devon's obedience is also very nice. We're still perfecting her heeling, fronts and finishes, as well as teaching the Open exercises. 

Today we had an extra added distraction in the building. I know I have a small mouse issue in the building, and I recently cleaned up the building and put training toys in plastic bins. The building isn't totally critter proof, so I'm never going to eliminate mice, but I'd like to control them. 

This morning, halfway through Page's session, a mouse darted out from behind a piece of equipment leaning against the wall and ran along a side rail to a hiding place behind a post. It caught my eye and I watched it until it stopped. Then I looked over to the expen, and Devon saw it, too! We both watched it's progress to the back corner of the building, then along the back wall. 

I put Page up and got Devon out. She really wanted to go find that mouse but worked with me anyway. This was actually really good distraction training for her. When the mouse made its way along the opposite wall, Page saw him, too. Even though I appreciated the distraction training today, I guess we need to get some bait out there.

The dogs napped after their breakfast while I attended my Pilate's class. Then it was home to change clothes and the girls and I were off again. Devon did a wagon wheel drill while Page commentated then watched quietly from her crate in the van. After realizing this was Devon's time, when I looked back, Page was sitting intently watching. 

After Devon's drill, it was Page's turn. Page did a 55 yard track which included a two-lane blacktop driveway. Page really likes the tracking game, but I can't say she really understands what she's doing yet. She does understand once she has her harness on what she's going to do and she looks for the start flag. When she sees it, she races to it and pounces on her start article. Today she even gave me a down on the start article!

This was the third time Page has been asked to do non-veg. The first time shouldn't even really count because I had to abandon the track before we got to the non veg. Page wasn't tracking that day. Her second non veg was a one lane gravel driveway. This was difficult for her and I had to remove three rocks from her mouth as she made her way across. 

Today's non veg was much better. Page was tracking pretty well when she got to the curb. She found the piece of food on the curb and then did classic back and forth transition scenting along the curb. It was so interesting to see Page work the curb just like a big dog would. However, because of her inexperience she never ventured out into the pavement. I finally pointed to the pavement and she started transitioning again. After helping her once more, she finally went across the pavement into the grass where she found her glove.

After our "work," we went to check out a woods we'd been given permission to use. It was a little walk back to the woods; unfortunately it was too wet for us to walk in. On the way back, I let both girls off leash to run and have some fun. Then it was back into the van to the park.

I knew going to the park around noon would be risky since it was Saturday and there would be more people out (and dogs aren't supposed to be off leash). But it was cloudy and drizzling, and I hoped it would keep people away. We were able to get a 15 minute woods walk in, which was good enough. Both girls had a good romp and were tired and happy when they got into the van.

Back at home, I made lunch and Page looked tired hanging around the kitchen. Finally, she got up and stood in front of her crate in the kitchen. I opened the door for her, and she went inside and laid down. This was a first! She actually asked to go into her crate, yippee!! I was so excited I took a photo, which made her sit up to look pretty. Oh well, at least she got in by herself!

We had one more training session in the building (without mouse distractions) before dinner. Then we called it an evening for snuggling with mom on the sofa (for Devon and Connor) and chewing on bones for Page. I think Page is now dreaming of what she's going to do tomorrow, and Devon's trying to find that mouse!


It's not all training games around here. There's lots of times when I'm on the computer or cooking that the dogs just hang around and play or sleep. Page has gotten into the routine and is looking to the other Goldens and taking their leads. 

Of course, following in Devon and Connor's pawprints means sleeping on the daybeds. After I got these photos, I removed Page from the daybed ... three times. I'm not sure she's quite old enough for sleeping on the furniture yet!

How Connor managed to sleep in this position without sliding right off the daybed is amazing to me. He even wagged his tail when he realized I was taking his picture!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rainy day

Today has been a rainy day, so we've spent it mostly inside. Page turned 12 weeks old yesterday, and boy is she growing! Last night I realized I no longer have to lean over to give her a treat at my side - those legs grow every hour! She's not a baby anymore!

It was only sprinkling during one of our "out" times this afternoon, so I took the cameras out and got some of these photos and videos. Devon is squinting a little, but this is probably going to be one of my all time favorite photos of my girls. 

Page wanted to make sure you saw her in all her "cute-ness!"

She's still cute, but now she's getting wet!

And another classic photo with Connor. He's so good with puppies. He has trained every puppy that came in after him. I think he liked the Golden girls way better than Ian, though.

Now for the videos! Here are two of Devon and Page playing in the yard. I think Devon wanted to do some agility ... maybe that's because Page isn't allowed in the agility yard unsupervised. 

I had to get some video of these long legs Page has, especially in the back. And you get an idea from these two videos that she doesn't stop moving and investigating very often...

Back inside, it was time to play! This was a great game of tug between Devon and Page. You can hear the legs of the toy starting to rip. I was expecting the game to end when the toy ripped in two, but you'll see someone else ended the game...

After about a 30 second silent standoff, Devon gave the toy to Connor. She was reminded that ALL TOYS are Connor's!

Finally after playtime in the backyard and playtime upstairs, it's time for a pre-dinner nap. How in the world can she be comfortable like this?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Page's first trial and kudos for Devon

Because Page's birthday is two days before Devon's, she is having some "hand-me-down" experiences. I can already see many of Page's firsts will really be repeats of what Devon did three years before. I'm sure as the girls get older, Page will chart her own path. But in our first 16 weeks, Page is taking the road first traveled by her big sister. 

This weekend is the White River Golden Retriever Club's Specialty. I'm the Rally Chairman for the Specialty, so last night I set up two crates in the obedience/rally building for the girls. I really didn't expect Ms. Page to last very long in the building. You know these Game Birds have a reputation for expressing themselves, and LOUDLY! 

Our morning started out in the usual way with a training session before breakfast. Page is learning some new things, like sitting up (beg/sit pretty) and spinning. She's also working on sitting at my left side and touching a target. Devon's training session included Excellent Rally exercises ... that's foreshadowing of things to come! Much to my surprise, she knew how to do the Halt, come front, finish signs. I wonder when she learned that? And with only two tries I taught her a rough moving stand, which was enough for me to do a walk around.

Upon arriving at the fairgrounds, the girls took a quick tour of the Indiana Collie Club Agility trial to say good morning to friends before we headed to the building. Page was elected "marketing specialist" for Rachel's tug toy business, and she headed out with a puppy tug in her mouth. Devon of course had to "help" with the puppy tug and the marketing.

In the obedience/rally building, I included Page's towel, bone and "Raspberry dog" toy in her crate. Page settled in and watched the activity around her. Pretty soon, she snuggled up with "Raspberry dog" and fell asleep. You can see a photo of the girls in their crates at the trial at the top of this entry (Page was asleep until I got the camera out).

Just like in their puppy pen, Page loves to have an extra large stuffed toy in her crate to sleep on. She has "Raspberry dog," a large children's toy made of chenille with Raspberry colored ears and feet in her traveling crate. This toy helped her make the journey to Indiana. And in her crate in the bedroom she has a bright green alien toy.

I was so impressed with Page! At 11 weeks, she was content in her crate in the obedience building from 10:45 a.m. to after 4 p.m. Devon came out to work at least three times, and Page never made a sound - even when Devon was in the ring! This is much better than when we're working in our own training building!

Devon was not entered in today's trial. However, it crossed my mind earlier this week that we only had one Excellent Rally entry. Someone would need to honor and run the course for that dog. I put it out of my mind until last night, when I got to thinking of the folks who would be around the trial and helping. Unfortunately there was only one other person who had worked their dog at the Excellent level. After we talked this morning, we decided even though Devon had never done an Advanced or Excellent class, she'd probably be the better dog to run.

I told the judge I had a dog to run, and she was fine with that. I didn't mention that the dog only had an RN and had never been off leash in the competition ring before - details! I knew my dog and trusted her. I was able to warm up with all the signs we'd be using, and Devon did very well. I also took high value treats (steak) for the pre-ring warm up. Sure enough, she was blowing spit bubbles and prancing like a reindeer! Devon was ready!

I am so proud of Devon. She handled the ring experience very well. She has never done a sit/stay on leash, but she made it most of the way through the honor sit before going down just seconds before the working dog finished. Out of the ring, I grabbed 3 pieces of steak and used them on the way to the start gate. We were in the ring, leash off and the judge asking us if we were ready before I even had time to think about being nervous. 

Devon just nailed this rally course. Did I mention that she'd never been off leash in the rally ring or jumped in rally? She was complete control after the second jump into beautiful prancing heeling. The last sign was the moving stand, walk around your dog. I taught her this sign this morning. She walked one step forward before stopping, but she held her ground for the complete exercise. 

I asked the judge later if she scored me. She laughed and said she had a clipboard but didn't have any paper on it. She knew because she "went to the board" on me and marked on her clipboard. She then paused and said she went to her board three times. Since I didn't have any handler errors or repeated signs, that would have been 3 points off total. With the failed honor station, Devon would have had an 87 and won the class. Did I mention I was really proud of her?

Page had several "out" times to work, too! She went through her "tricks" of sitting, moving into heel position and sitting, standing, spinning and hand touching. I was even able to get her to touch the target. Page also remembered that she must sit until released in a crate, even when her leash is being put on. Page did a better job than most of the dogs at this, and many nearby exhibitors noticed (thank you Crate Games)!

Page's favorite "out" time was a rough and tumble play session with Luna, the Pequeno Portuguese Podengo. Luna is 10 months old, and she was great fun for Page to play with! If you ever get the chance to meet a Podengo, they are really fun! Luna is full of life! She and Page had a grand game of bitey face, puppy wrestling and chase! 

But the BEST game was when Page grabbed Luna's leash and started tugging on her! Luna had no idea how to get out of that, and since Page was bigger and the floors slick, Luna couldn't do a thing about it! Page knew she'd won this battle of puppy wills. Susan, Luna's mom, even wondered if Page could come home with them to keep tabs on Luna. Hummmm, I'm not sure if Susan knew what she was asking for, and I could tell she thought better of that suggestion later! 

Page got to watch the final runs of the Indiana Collie Club agility trial and meet a really nice Portuguese Water Dog named Whoopsie. I really like Whoopsie, and she sent a litter of puppies home a couple of weeks before Page came home. Whoopsie was all too ready to tell Page you don't nip Portie noses! What a good momma dog!

After the agility trial, Page got to get up on Dr. Bonnie's treatment table. Dr. Bonnie is great fun, and has really yummy salmon treats! However, Dr. Bonnie's no push over! Talk about maintaining criteria! Page could tell Dr. Bonnie wasn't a novice. She really made Page push to earn her rewards for "touch." And Dr. Bonnie got Page to do a fold back down ... that little trick is worth a tracking outing or two with Skye!

After Dr. Bonnie pronounced Page a "really nice puppy," we had one more training session to tackle: HORSES! We have a busy fairgrounds on the Saturday before Mother's Day. There is a Golden Retriever Specialty, an all-breed agility trial, a goat show and a horse show! I didn't get Page over to see the goats, but there was several horses still around, so we took yummy treats and headed their way. 

Page was interested in the horses and gave them long looks, especially with they turned and eyed her. But every time she stopped and looked at them, she got a yummy treat. Hey, when mom is offering treats, the world is a great place! 

Finally, after one more lap with Luna and Sheltie Beep, we headed home. You would think that Page has slept all evening. Well, you'd be wrong! After some cat naps on the way home, a quick stop at my parents and a romp with Reece, Page has been going full steam since 6 p.m. and it's now 9 p.m. She's been pulling on the daybed quilts, chewing on my chair and wrestling with Connor; she's wandering around trying not to fall asleep! I think she'll sleep well tonight!

And what about me???

Devon wants you all to know she's still training, and she's still brilliant. She's been tracking several times in the last two weeks, which I have not blogged about. She did a wonderful 5 hour old track last Sunday. I had someone watching her who is learning about tracking, so I gave Devon a lot more vegetation than I normally would to show how dogs indicate turns on veg.

The track also had a section through a playground, and when we tracked, the playground was complete with children playing! I called to one parent to tell her what we were doing before letting Devon track through the playground. I wanted them to know I wasn't just walking my dog right through the playground! I really like these playgrounds, because they have shredded rubber tire mulch and are crossed with concrete walkways. 

Not only did Devon track right through this area, but she stopped to be petted by a mom (who I happen to know because we used to work together) and her son just as she entered the playground area. And halfway through, she stopped to say hello to another girl on the jungle gym. I was really proud of Devon for working through these distractions AND doing a track that was more than 5 hours old.

On Tuesday, Devon had an awesome agility class at the kennel club. I've been working drive to her contact position at home. I didn't think it was working very well. She wasn't as fast at home as I would have liked. However, she showed lots of drive on Tuesday. 

We ran a Steeplechase course for USDAA. Steeplechase is a lot like a Jumpers course, except it also has an A frame and you either take the A frame or the weave poles twice. In this course we took the weaves twice. Devon did a fantastic job in all her sequences. She drive very hard through the weaves, using her two footed hop footing. She also drove very well over the A frame. 

She did get a little more distracted on the last run. She had been there for 3 hours, and it was at the very end of class. The back garage doors were open with gates across them. From the middle of the building, Devon air scented something outside the building and quartered her way back across the building to peer outside. Since I'd seen a cat out in the back parking lot earlier that evening, I'm suspecting it was a cat or raccoon she smelled. Oh well, the down side of having a tracking dog!

It's fun to be Page

I have received a couple of emails that I haven't been posting any adventures on the dog blog this week. I apologize and promise to do better! ;-) We don't want a fan revolt! We value our readers! 

Page has had a busy week. On Monday after tracking and a 40 minutes woods walk, she got to meet my mom's retired teaching buddies. Page walked into my parents' place and up to each person to say hello. She's so confident! They kept asking how old she was and said repeatedly how good she was - better than most adult dogs they knew! I did remind them that she'd just been on a 40 minute walk!

Soon, we missed her but we didn't have to look long. My dad had come into the kitchen to fill a lunch plate before sneaking off to the den. Little Ms. Page, ever her mother's daughter around food, was sitting prettily next to him hoping for a treat from the counter top! Believe me, she doesn't get fed from the table or in the kitchen!

Page slipped away one more time to go find Reece. She really likes him, and he really likes puppies. They had a tail wagging good time before we had to head back home.

Golden friend Laurie got to see Page on Monday. As Page finished playing with Laurie, she turned and trotted away. Laurie busted out laughing and said, "Where did those LEGS come from!" Yep, Page has started growing, and it's not going to be pretty! On Monday, from the front she looks like a cute puppy; and then she would turn around and you saw a narrow puppy butt and the longest back legs you've ever seen! 

Page and Devon are fast friends. Devon plays "little momma" to her, correcting her when she needs it, watching over her and playing with her. Devon is Page's favorite friend and this week she tried to wrap Devon in her "binky" again. I think Devon got the upper "paw" this time.

Remember that old adage that kids play more with the box then the toy it came in? Well, Page discovered milk jugs this week. I usually set the empty gallon milk containers next to the trash can and wait until I take the bag out to take out the milk jug. Page ran into it on Tuesday evening, which sparked an awesome new game for her. Even Devon got into the act! 

After spending a day under my chair in the living room, the milk jug resurfaced on Thursday and continues to be the favorite play toy this week. Oh, and make sure you check out those back LEGS! How can you miss them???

On Wednesday we ran an "errand" to the Toledo, Ohio, area to pick up some agility equipment from Mark's Agility Equipment. Mark makes awesome agility equipment, and he and Robin are great agility competitors and wonderful people. My dogwalk, A frame and teeter are all from Mark, and I just bought a double jump, triple jump and three sets of 2x2 weave poles. 

Page and Devon came along for the ride. Both girls settled down and rode like the experts they are. They also pottied quickly when we stopped, and Page ate well on the road. It's wonderful to have two seasoned travelers even if one is only 11 weeks old!

On Thursday we headed north to get Devon's CERF. Devon was clear with the only remark being the distichia we already know she has. Dr. Krohne showed me how to pluck the eyelashes, and she said since Devon is so good on the table I could do this myself to give her more comfort.

Page came along for the ride. Both girls got to talk with a girl in a wheelchair in the parking lot. Devon is a fantastic therapy dog, and Page got to say hello, too! Page also got to go inside the vet hospital and say hello to the staff. She even got weighed (she was 17 pounds and most of that was legs).

I'm happy to report that on Friday morning when we woke up, Page's front legs had grown! She's now just as tall in the front as in the back! Of course, she looks like a puppy on stilts, but she'll look worse before she looks better! And those new long legs are a little hard to control on the stairs. This morning her feet got going a little too fast, and she slid down the last few stairs landed like a bean back completely sprawled at the bottom. Good thing I have extra padding over the hardwood at the bottom of the stairs.

Here's the last video clip of the week. I didn't start the camera in time, so I'll try and get a better clip in the future. However, this is Page running in from the back of the yard after hearing her come whistle. She hasn't forgotten what that means!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I'm 10 weeks old!

Page is really enjoying life at 10 weeks old. She's into the routine of the household. She's (FINALLY) sleeping through the night, and the last two nights she's given me 9 hours of sleep! This is the biggest blessing for me!

Page is also playing well by herself and with the two Goldens enough for me to finally get some things done. Since she's gotten home, I've had precious few hours to get work accomplished, and that's usually after she's in bed for the night. I'm looking forward to catching up on some sleep!

We visited a small local agility trial this weekend. Most all our friends were there, and they all loved Page. Besides hearing how cute she was, the next most common remark was about how confident and bold she was. She was only held when someone wanted to smooch her. Otherwise, she was on the ground watching all the action. She especially enjoyed watching the dogs on the equipment.

She also met several puppy-friendly dogs, including a Doberman. Page enjoyed meeting her, but was a bit intimidated when the Dobe play-bowed to her! And a 9-month-old back Lab was a little too enthusiastic about meeting her, so she didn't spend much time with him. Poor Quinn! He just wanted to make a new friend!

Hope you enjoy the photos I took today. Page wanted to make sure I got her best side. And you can tell she thinks Devon sleeps WAY too much. Just wait until Page can jump on that daybed! Devon's snoozing days are over!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Let the Crate Games begin!

I'm still working on trying to read Page's play moods in the house. When she's really frantic jumping and biting at the other dogs, it usually means she's tired. However, today she was wild, and she'd just gotten up from a post-woods walk nap. 

Since she was so wild, I put everything aside (who needs to pay bills anyway), and we went to the building to train. Page got a long lesson in Crate Games. I wondered how this session would go. I should have done it a week ago, but because I figured it would take me over an hour I kept putting it off. 

Page's litter has across the board been very vocal. They get it honestly from both Bizzy and Goose. While many of her littermates are driving their owners batty with their noise, my multi-day drive home convinced Page that screaming in her crate wasn't going to accomplish much.In the car, she settles right down without a peep to sleep or play in her crate.

That of course hasn't prevented her from testing things now that we're at home. I've made it a fast rule not to enter a room where she's crated when she's screaming. At night, she settles quickly and rarely protests. I get the most noise as I'm finishing my shower or if I put her in her crate while I'm eating.

For Page's first lesson in crate games, I used small pieces of turkey giblets left over from Thanksgiving to teach her to sit when the crate door latch was rattled. Page loved the treats and quickly learned to sit. However, we had to work through her control when I started the "Are you a gambler?" phase of adding in distractions with the door opening. 

Before I started Crate Games, if Page jumps at or paws the crate door, she's not allowed out. By simply not opening the door and being consistent, I've taught her not to rush the door. However, including a sit and a stay while the door was opening was a challenge for Page. She had several times when the door was closed in her face and she didn't get those yummy treats because she got up from her sit. But each time this happened, I could see the little wheels turning in her head to figure it out. 

Finally, she controlled her impulse to get up when the crate door opened. Bless her, she even started to come up from the sit and immediately planted her butt firmly on the ground again! It was as if she was saying, "HANG ON! I GOT IT!" From this point, she hung onto that sit and flew through the distractions of putting on her leash. And just like the dogs in the DVDs, she didn't want to come out of the crate at first when we moved to that phase. Once she did come out, she explored both sides of the crate, then got right back in to a jackpot! Boy did she like that!

Once I released her, it was back to the house. This time, she played quietly with her toys and bones and then quickly fell asleep for a quick after "workout" nap. When it came time for her dinner, Page sat in her crate for the door to open and her food dish to come in. After dinner, she remembered to sit quietly for me to reach for the door, but she'd pop out of her sit when I opened the door. It's that control issue again! I shut the door and let her figure it out. On the third try, she started to come up and then you could see her think, "DARN IT! I have to SIT!" and she settled back into her sit. 

Page is such a smart girl, and she works really hard to get what I'm asking of her. She's a real joy to train.