Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thinking about the journey

The Journey. I'm not sure who really coined this term, but it's the road you and your dog take to your goals. I saw a t-shirt recently that read, "Enjoy the Journey" and the "o" in enjoy and journey are pawprints. Only a dog person would get that and smile.

Susan Garrett in her blog often talks about the Journey, and if you haven't seen her video on YouTube called "The Journey," go get some tissues and watch it now. I also have another favorite on my YouTube channel which is Lis Kristof's ADCH run with her dog Diva. If you haven't see it yet, go refill that box of Kleenex and watch it now.

There has been much said about the Journey and the bond it creates between our dogs and us. I completely agree. When I get too focused on a title or a goal, I need to be reminded of how much my dogs mean to me, regardless of titles. Those are usually the nights Devon sleeps in my room. Devon is the world's greatest dog to wake up with. When the alarm goes off, she crawls up next to you and buries her head in your neck as if to say, "Let's hit the snooze and have 10 more minutes, Mom!"

But something recently got me thinking about another part of the Journey: the people who are a part of it. They are the training partners, friends, competitors, instructors and mentors. The proud breeders who know they created a life and you cultivated the talent. They are the people who share in your Journey and the titles you earn along the way.

My memories of Ian making the Finals of the 2007 AKC Agility Invitational would not be complete without the people who were along side us in their Journey or even cheering us from home. Dr. Bonnie who returned a phone message when I was at a Red Roof Inn in Barstow, CA, the night before the Invitational after I had slammed Ian's tail in the door of the van. How many vets would not only laugh as you cried but assure you he'd be ok.

Sarah and Esteban Fernandezlopez who I met online years ago getting a reference for my first Gaylan's dog. They were at the Invitational with their awesome girl Sammie, who would make the Finals in 2008. As their dream in 2007 faded, Esteban said, "You're going to make it to the Finals!" I said, "Don't I have to run clean in Round 4?" He said, "Sure, but you can do it!" I think I wanted to throw up at that moment, so I don't recall replying.

And we did do run clean in Round 4. Sarah and Esteban were ringside as we did, giving us our first congratulatory hug and shoving a cell phone in my ear saying, "Say hello to Gayle! I was on the phone with her giving her a jump by jump commentary of your whole run!"

And then Gayle was on the phone laughing and crying with me! She'd only met Ian once, and she wasn't his breeder; but that didn't matter. She had become an important part of our Journey and she was there.

Another important person on the Journey with us that day is Susan Anderson and her great Belgian Sheepdog Ring (MACH Isengard's Precious). Susan and Ring are the #1 Belgian Sheepdog team, yet in 2007 their dream for the Finals ended in Round 3. But Susan was right there ringside for Ian and I. She is one of the best sportswomen I've met. She truly, truly was just thrilled to see a Belgian Sheepdog in the Finals. What a gem to have on your Journey.

When Ian earned his MACH, I had the joy of having new Indiana friends and old Ohio friends standing ringside. Proud breeder Julie Hite was on hand to see every run of the Invitational, and she was there to see his MACH run. I cannot imagine her joy to see a puppy from her very first breeding accomplish so much.

Not only was Julie ring side, but so was Susan Crank, who instructed Ian's first beginners agility class at Wild Weavers. As she said, she would have never predicted Ian would MACH or do any of the great things he has done when he started that class, but she was there to see it.

With a move to Indiana in 2005 and Devon added to the family, we added two new sports (tracking and field) and new people came along side us in our Journey. I will never forget the day Devon certified to track. At the ripe old age of 7 months, she was very small. Steve Ripley was an intimidating figure and I knew they had conformation Goldens a lot bigger than Devon. I kept saying, this is my puppy we were certifying. I will never forget the look on his face when Devon hopped out of the van and wagged furiously at him. He said, "HOW OLD did you say she was?" Not only did that day start Devon's tracking career, but it started a friendship with Steve and Janet that now includes every sport we train.

And I can't even begin to list those who have helped us along the way in our field adventures. Mitch has been a wonderful instructor and mentor. Behind that field pro exterior and his black goatee, is a set of sparkling dark eyes that dance and dimples that appear when Devon retrieves his coffee mug to him. He has given me far more training and advice than I could ever have imagined in this sport.

There's Pam Martin in Canada and her supportive emails and helpful hints when I need them. There's Carol Cassity with her one-on-one concern for our training in 2007 and her wonderful email recently wishing me luck in our upcoming tests. Of course there's Gayle who is always supportive with training advice on any subject. She's the best puppy raiser there is, and she's given me two of the best Goldens I could dream of having.

And then the Journey begins with Page. Now I have Lise coming along beside me in my Journey as Page's co-breeder and fellow dog trainer. Her talent as a trainer leads to conversations in field and agility. And Donna LaHaise is now along in our Journey as she watches Bizzy's little girl grow into an amazing working dog.

And regardless which dog I'm working or which sport we're concentrating on at the time, Kim Knight has been my best friend and training partner for nearly a decade. Even though we no longer live in the same state, we still are on the phone several times a week sharing training ideas, disasters, successes and anything else that matters like job frustrations and her girls' college choices.

What I've learned is the Journey isn't just about you and your dog. It isn't just about the hours of training to accomplish a goal and the bond you create with another animal. The Journey is also about the people along the way. Those who celebrate your goals met as if they are their own, and who mourn your losses and defeats as if they are their own.

The Journey may be about you and your dog, but it's a lonely Journey without people to share it.

We've also been doing some tracking

Tracking has been a little hit and miss lately. Last week I laid a TD track for Page on the way to do some field training. I figured it would be aged a couple of hours by the time I ran it. Well, it was 3.5 hours old when I got back to it. It was 520 yards long with 5 turns. Page ran it like it was 30 minutes old. She really is a great pup, and I was over the top about this track.

Last weekend we had some beautiful cool weather in the mid-70s. It felt like fall in August, and I was thrilled. On Sunday, we met the Ripleys and Archie for some tracking. Archie hasn't been feeling well for several weeks, battling a flare up of Lyme Disease. We started to see it in his tracking, where he would miss metal articles and stand at times like he wasn't sure what to do. This is NOT Archie!

Well he is well on the road to recovery! On Sunday he did a beautiful 384 VST track and found all of his articles (even when I didn't see his metal article)! There were lots of hoops and hollers for Archie, and it was great to see!

Devon and Page got some nice tracks, too. Devon's was aged 2 hours and had chalk at transitions. I had posted a few weeks ago that Devon hadn't been tracking with a lot of confidence, but she was back to her old self on Sunday! Time off can be a very valuable training tool.

Devon motored through her track and was really having fun. Next to the building and parking lot where her track was, there was a large retention pond and geese. She saw them when we started the track, but as we moved away from them, she forgot about them.

But when the track went along a sidewalk headed right for the pond, Devon picked up her pace! Devon was pulling and wagging with her nose down off the sidewalk and onto the grass along the side of the pond when I heard Janet behind me say, "I actually made a left turn on the sidewalk back here...." She so much nicer than judges who blow whistles! ;-) I laughed as I watched Devon in all her glorious tracking posture a good 40 ft away from the turn she blew by and I said, "Not according to Devon!" We all laughed.

About that time Devon figured the jig was up, and she put her head up and circled left. She was headed directly around the pond to where the geese were standing. Too much field work! This girl was changing sports on me! She quickly back tracked on her own looking for her track, and as soon as she got to the turn on the sidewalk she took it and tracked to her glove. It was sitting on the seat of a metal picnic table, and she wasn't fooled! She reached right up, snagged it and carried it right back to Janet! This excitement and great attitude were awesome for me to see.

Page's track ended up being 3 hours and 15 minutes old when we ran it. This was the oldest VST track she's ever run. She had chalk and transitions and a MOT turn -- her first! Page went off the start like it was a 30 minute track. This girl doesn't mind age. She tracked strong across veg and non-veg to the front of the building.

The fronts of buildings with entrance doors give Page lots to investigate. She searched every seam in the pavement and sniffed every flower and every planter pot. Janet had been teasing me earlier when I didn't know the names of plants and flowers (hey, she's the gardener and I'm the one with an animal science degree!). I told them Page was going to get her undergraduate degree in horticulture with the way she was examining the flowers!

Any other dog would have looked up and seen the bright yellow dog toy on the sidewalk 15 yards ahead. Nope, not Page. She was WORKING! I couldn't push this dog through a track if I tried. Her investigations finally took her past the entrance doors and into the flower bed on the other side. After a tour where she again sniffed every flower, she used her nose to go back to the track and found the yellow dog toy the hard way -- from the side using her nose!

From there Page tracked right on to her MOT turn. This really threw her and it was late in the track. She found the chalk and twice put her nose down on the new leg and once tracked it 10 ft. However, she just couldn't commit. Once I rescented her and stepped onto the new leg, she picked it up and tracked to the glove.

This was a really nice track for a 6 month old puppy. She found her articles and indicated them (she even shook the toy and loved the plastic article with cookies in it). I'm really proud of her work up to this point. I'll try and sneak in some more tracking in the next week or so.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Field training update

Most of Devon and Page's training for the last 2 weeks has focused on field training. Devon has been focusing on lining and blinds for the last few days. Not only are we working from Mitch White's training manual, but we're also working drills from Carol Cassity's book Building a Retriever.

Devon has thrilled me with some great lining drills. We added work through suction by having her go to piles of orange bumpers she can't see past flags, chairs and even people in chairs that she can see (and really wants to investigate). I can see her fighting that suction as she goes out, so I know she's working hard! She also worked on a walk-up scenario and got the concept really well.

Devon works very hard to be perfect, and because she does she internalizes pressure. I work hard not to put a lot of pressure on her, but she feels it anyway from me. Since I'm really green at this field stuff (Devon is my first field dog), I accidentally put pressure on when I don't mean to. It is for this reason that I'm so grateful to Gayle and Pam. They've been so encouraging with advice and helpful hints. Honestly, I've been blessed beyond measure to have this talented village of people interested in our field work!

After a disheartening session of land blinds on Sunday, Gayle came to the rescue with personal advice from her experiences. So today (Tuesday), Devon and I had the best blind session ever! Putting birds at the blinds gave Devon an over-the-top reward. You should have seen her tail go 100 mph when she found her first bird!

Knowing there was a high value prize out there, gave Devon confidence and drive I hadn't seen before. On the water blinds, this confidence continued and she worked through suction that had tanked a session just 2 weeks ago. As Carol Cassity says, "Leave something in it for the dog." I guess I learned Devon needed some higher value rewards than just the retrieve.

Page is also coming along nicely. She's such a smart girl and a very quick learner. She's moved through most aspects of the force fetch and is working on walking fetch. In addition, she's walking in heel and sitting when she retrieves the bird. Even more exciting, she's now bringing thrown marks to me and sitting. It's still a little rocky and she sits in my area and not in heel, but she's also still 6 months old. I don't expect the finished product yet!

Off topic: Squirrels and tomatoes

Ok, so I've decided to start posting about random things I think are funny or inspirational or just worth noting. Here's the first of such posts, and it's about living in the country.

This morning on my way to exercise class, I saw a huge table at the side of the road next to someone's driveway covered with tomatoes. There was a big sign on one side of the table that read "FREE TOMATOES." I stopped on the way home, and these nice people even had a large bag filled with plastic grocery bags so we could take as many as we wanted. There had to be more than 100 tomatoes on that table, and all in good shape.

What nice people to share in their bounty! Personally, I can't keep anything green alive ... ok, my yard looks pretty good, but someone else takes care of that. The weeds in my fence rows are healthy until the dogs start ripping them down ... I'm in charge of that. Anyway, I'm thankful for these nice neighbors and their yummy tomatoes.

And now onto squirrels. On my way back from exercise class, I saw a squirrel bounce across the road and pause at the side of the road. As I got closer, I saw something yellow in his mouth. The stinker had been across the road in the corn field picking an ear of corn for himself! The industrious rodent had an entire ear of corn in his mouth taking it back across the road to the woods. I think maybe we're closer to fall than we suspect!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: the girls

My two beautiful girls: Page 6 months and Devon 3.5 years. This was taken this weekend when I set up the grooming table in the living room. It was too hot to groom outside or in the garage. The girls are fighting for who was first to get their spa treatment -- hair and nails!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Page is 6 months old!!

Tomorrow Page turns 6 months old. I cannot believe how fast she's growing and what an amazingly talented pup she already is. Sometimes I can't believe she's only 6 months old because of the way she problems solves and learns. I'm very lucky to have this girlie as my partner.

I must also admit I've taken my share of grief for calling her a coyote. Thank you to all the folks who have said, "Well of course she's a Golden Retriever! It's obvious!" Dr. Bonnie pointed out this weekend that Devon never really "fell apart" as she was growing up. Devon looked like an awkward puppy at various times, but she was never quite as bad as Page is now!

This weekend I'm starting to see signs of her growing out of this ultra skinny sight hound phase - at least I think I am! Here's some video I took to try and make the "flat" photos come alive.

And it really doesn't matter how goofy she looks. I love her anyway! She's NOT going back to New York! Sorry guys!

Field training: land set-ups

Devon has been concentrating solely on field work these days (along with her weekly agility class). Page is also doing field training, but more focused on her table work for force fetch.

During the week we do mostly drills, but both girls have enjoyed weekly set-ups with a field training group. This week because Agile Gold came to visit, I was able to get stuff on video. Sorry about the quality of the video. It was set on manual and overexposed, but I think you can see it well enough.

Here is the second land set-up that Devon ran. It was a simple double, but I was very pleased with her marking.

Devon's land blind was also very nice. I'll have to confess this was the second time she'd been to this blind, but this time it was from a different and longer line. I was pleased she lined it; she got it the first time on two whistles.

Page is doing a really great job for not even being 6 months old! Here is the first set-up we did with Page running. On the first mark she's looking over her shoulder coming back because the bumper had a long rope and it was hitting her in the butt! You can see we don't have a return to hand, but we're working on that.

The second mark is the longest she's ever done at about 100 yards. She pulled up about 15-20 yards too early and needed help. We reran the mark and I think she was much better the second time. Of course, that big bumper is REALLY heavy and she thought about taking it back to Janet who was the gunner sitting closer. I'm glad she figured out to come back to me!

It was really fun to get these video clips. I can't wait to see how much progress each girl makes in the coming weeks and months!

TDX training in woods

When I was brand new to tracking, especially TDX work, I read a great article titled "Training Woods" by Rosemary Janoch in the July-August 2007 issue of the Golden Retriever News. In this article, she lists all the scenarios you should practice with a woods. They include:
  • track towards the woods and go directly in
  • track towards the woods and make a right or left turn in front of it (don't enter)
  • track toward the woods on a diagonal and enter on a diagonal
  • track parallel to the woods then make a right or left turn into it
  • make a turn shortly after entering a woods
  • make a turn after going a long way into the woods
  • make no turn at all and go through the woods
This article has been invaluable to me in my training, and I apply the list above to any obstacle I can (like ravines and changes of cover).

Well, I said a couple of weeks ago Page needed to get back to TDX work, and that's what we've been working on. In the last 10 days, Page has done three TDX tracks, and she's done really well on them.

Track #1
I laid an evening track in high grass and woods that was approximately 600 yards long and aged 3 hours. There were lots of deer trails through this area, so I knew it would be challenging. Page worked well through the high grass and into the woods. The first set of woods I went straight through on a slight diagonal. Page entered the woods easily and tracked well. However, just before the exit of the woods, Page got very confused.

She worked a deer cross track and took it to the right. She wasn't totally committed to it but came back to it several times. I finally allowed her to track out of the woods on the cross track to see what she'd do and how she'd look knowing the track wasn't there. She did just what I've seen Devon do in this situation. She hunted for the track and never found it. So back into the woods we went.

I finally worked her through the section with several rescents and moving her toward the correct track without pushing her. How did I do that? Well, each time I rescented her I did it farther beyond the cross track until she got her correct track. I didn't push her through the track but helped her work it out. Once she was on the correct track, she practically pulled me over exiting the woods.

The key thing for my training is that all this happened on damp ground with no veg. It's the second time she's really struggled under these conditions. Looks like I have something to work on!

Page handled the rest of the track very well. I gave her another small woods line to cross through an open gap, and I gave her a left turn in front of a woods. This last turn and leg of the track paralleled a deer path just 3 ft. to the right. Page did very, very well on this leg.

Track #2
This track was laid at 8 a.m. and run at 11:15 a.m. on a hot, humid day. It was also about 600 yards long with very heavy, brushy cover and woods.

Page didn't start very strong, but within 40 yards she was pulling so hard I nearly lost my feet in the heavy, dense cover. She made her woods entries very well and tracked quite strong in the woods. I gave her two woods turns, and the difference in this woods was there was much more vegetation to help her scenting.

The other difference with this woods was the vines! The trouble with tracking Page in viney cover is that she goes under the vines while I go over them ... leading to interesting line handling. At one point before her woods exit, Page froze in the vines. I waited for her to move forward and then realized that maybe she was stuck. As I walked forward she never moved but simply looked over her shoulder and up at me with a glare that clearly communicated: "Thanks for FINALLY realizing I CAN'T MOVE HERE! A little help is APPRECIATED!" Once I lifted the vines off her she was gone like a shot. Seriously, where does this girl get her attitude??

On this very humid day, the heat got to her on the last leg. She did take water and a rescent; but again her attitude seemed to say, "Leave me alone. I got it, just let me work it out." So I did, and she found her glove in less time than it took me to lay the track. That's always a good sign!

Track #3

This track was again laid in the evening. It was about 275 yards long, aged a little more than 2 hours and had some VST as well as TDX in it. It started in weedy high cover and including some cover that was a bit viney. This track was laid by Steve, and there were several articles on it. I was VERY pleased that Page indicated her two articles on the track by wagging her tail and picking them up! This is a big improvement for her.

Page did a lovely job on her turns, including triple checking herself when she hit a deer bed after she had already committed 10 yards down a new leg. With the heavy cover, you could see the exact 90 degree turn, and she came right back to it and worked it to triple check herself! Page also gave an extra tail-wagging indication where the tracklayer took a tumble in the heavy cover. Personally, I think she was checking for any cookies that might have fallen out of his pockets!

Page again was meticulous on her transition to the non-veg. This was an interesting twist for her since she hasn't done non-veg in probably 10 days and it was at the end of a TDX track with completely different scenting. After indicating the track went out into the parking lot, she triple checked herself then committed. She tracked well to the final article.

Page did indicate her final glove in the curb, but it was a weaker indication than the others with no tail wag. However, once I asked if she found something, she picked it up and I was able to play with her by tugging and tossing the glove. This is a real first! And she carried it all the way back to the vehicles. When Janet saw her she called to her and Page ran to Janet with her glove for a big party! I think Page could get used to the party part! And my leftover hamburger from dinner got an enthusiastic welcome as a jackpot!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I'm not a coyote!

Poor Page. She's in that lanky puppy ugly stage. It's a good thing she doesn't know what people are saying about her; but then again I doubt she'd let it bother her if she did. She's got too much work to do to worry about how she looks!

Last week I had her swimming at a nearby pond and family friend came up to us after I had Page in the car and Devon out. He tactfully said something about being too far away and what kind of dog did I have out earlier. I said she was a 5.5 month old Golden Retriever. His response was, "OH! I know that's (meaning Devon) a Golden." Hummmmm, makes you wonder what he thought Page was.

I think the final straw for me was when we went to a mock hunt test last weekend and I had Page walking around and two ladies asked what breed she was. I guess they ruled out Flat Coat and Toller right away, but from there it must have been anyone's guess!! Goodness, there was a short list of breeds at a hunt test she could be!

Gayle was very encouraging by pointing out the positives: nice angles, good topline, decent bone, coat coming in nicely ... but then we move to her head. It's always reassuring when your breeder says, "She's cute but kinda like a sighthound at the moment." Maybe her new nickname should be the Saluki!

Monday, August 3, 2009

VST is hard!

After looking really great a couple of weeks ago, Devon has not been tracking well. She's losing confidence and avoiding non-veg. Last week in an effort to build some confidence, I gave her a TD track, which she really loved. I haven't seen that kind of spark in her for a while.

But our VST track last Friday evening again showed her avoidance and lack of confidence. I was really frustrated when she'd been doing such a great job. She loves this game and I want to get that spark back. I think we've finally decided she's just doing too much hard stuff right now.

VST is hard. Page can do veg tracks of 500-600 yards long, but I've found during the last two weeks 300 yards is her max on VST. Devon's training has been so focused on preparing for her Senior Hunt tests this fall, we've had little time to really work tracking. And when we have it's longer tracks with no chalk or any other help.

So, I've made the decision to back off the VST tracks for the next couple of months as we prepare for and run Senior Hunt Tests. I'm still going to train her, but I'm going to give her less length with lots of articles and help on the hard surfaces.

Sunday evening's tracks

Sunday evening I revisited a track Devon had problems with a couple of weeks ago, but I split it into two tracks, one for Devon and one for Page. The purple track here was Devon's track. I laid lots of articles on it for rewards. It was 306 yards long with 122 yards of non-veg. It was aged 3 hours when she ran it.

Before the first turn onto the sidewalk, Devon crittered and found something to munch on. I corrected her for it and told her to get back to work and she quickly did knowing I was annoyed.

It took her a little bit to commit to the second leg, and I'm sure it was because it was on non-veg. I wouldn't let her do her frantic circling but settled her in to work. She got back to work quickly and was rewarded with her first article.

While it's not noted on the map, they've added a mulched playground area where Devon's 3rd leg was. She's tracked this before and done poorly. When I laid the track and walked into this courtyard, I smelled a strong scent of animal urine. After Devon's second poor performance in this mulched playground, including avoiding then eating very badly smelling mulch and frothing at the mouth, I believe some or many types of animals use this as their litter box. I don't think we'll track this area again.

The rest of Devon's track went well with the exception of the turn onto the parking lot. Devon again showed her circling avoidance behavior. I let her work for three passes, then stopped her, watered her, rescented her and told her to get to work. She wanted to get frantic again, but she quickly saw the chalk I used on just this section. It settled her down, and she worked well across the parking lot to another article reward.

This track was just what Devon needed. It was a confidence builder, and she gave me some nice work. I think doing a variety of tracking with her and keeping things short and simple is the answer.

Page's track is above in orange. It was 266 yards long with 152 yards of non-veg. It was aged 2.5 hours when we ran it; the longest age she has run on VST.

Page did a very good job with this track. She was strong off her one flag start coming in at 90 degrees. She committed quickly to the non-veg and worked it nose down. She spent a lot of time on her non-veg turn 2, and you could tell when she was on the track because her head shot over in the direction of the track. It is just amazing to watch this little girl problem solve!

Again, the satellite photo is old, so you cannot see she crosses a circular driveway with sidewalks and mulched beds. She handled this area like a dream. Her article indications weren't great; she only gave me a firm nose touch on each. But she did a swift, competent job on this track.

So, sounds like we have a tracking plan for the rest of the summer. I have lots of work to do, but I'm really going to enjoy all of the variety we'll see!

Page's latest tracks

Page has continued to do a variety of tracks during the last few weeks. Even though I've been trying to keep up with her TD work, I have to admit she's not had a TDX track in at least a month. We'll have to solve that this week!

Small beginnings
This was a great little track Janet laid us a couple of weeks ago. It was 269 yards long, and Page did a fantastic job on it. On this track Page also indicated all of her articles by laying down on them. THAT doesn't happen all the time!

After this great track and several others, we decided to start to stop putting Page on "baby" tracks and treat her like a big dog.

The Big Curve
This is the "Big Curve" track, which was Page's first real challenge. The track is 389 yards long with 308 yards of non-veg. The parking lot was recently re-surfaced, so it was extra stinky.

The goal of this track is to teach the dogs to follow the scent even if it doesn't go straight. The track starts on grass then drops down into the curve along the edge of the parking lot.

Page did what most dogs do, she tracked straight. But when she ended up on the grass, she lost the scent. After about 3-4 times of doing this, she learned to stay in the curb.

The first orange area marks an interesting twist. Steve laid the track and when he got to this area it was filled with water so he walked higher on the concrete curb. Page was essentially footstep tracking, and when it came to this area, she did just what Steve did. She tracked higher on the curb. Good girl!

The second orange circled area is a set of steps of wood and gravel leading to the upper parking area. After first indicating the track went right up, Page came back down and worked this area for a long time. I can only imagine what she was thinking and adding to her "Rolodex!" After checking the whole thing out, she bounced up the steps again. However, she wasn't sure about going across the stinky resurfaced area. That took a little more time!

In front of the building, there were pavers. This was another interesting scenting challenge for Page, as was the whole glass front of the building. Page spent a lot of time scouring this area with her nose, even checking out the revolving door and under the glass door. Luckily no one came through! She finally got back to work and at least nose touched her article.

The final turn in before heading back out into the parking lot took a while. This is where she hit a wall. I've now learned that she hits her wall somewhere around 300 yards. Anything over that is just too long for her to work and concentrate on such a hard task. However, she did work out her problem and do the island serpentine work and found her final article and pawed at it. I think she was just relieved to have this one done!

Too much!

The next track I put in for Page included curb work and island serpentines. Page worked out this track, but it was way too long for her at 540 yards with 289 yards of non-veg.

When Page hits her "wall" it's like she loses all her energy and just wants to lay down. It's very easy to push a dog through a track at this point or when they are genuinely confused. However, it's the worst thing in the world for them. If you push a dog through a track, they will start relying on you to tell them where the track is. This will ruin a good tracking dog. I have seen several dogs stop tracking, return to their owner's sides and look up at mom as if to say, "ok, show me where it is!" The problem is, in a test you can't!

I did encourage Page forward, but she had to get to the end on her own. It was torture for me and took nearly 30 minutes to run the entire track. But she worked it out and lead me through it. I learned that we had to find a much shorter length to train on for now!

Just right!

Thanks once again to Janet, we found the length that is "just right" for now! Janet laid this track for us on Friday. Page did a stellar job with it. It was 290 yards long with 127 yards of non-veg. It was aged nearly 2 hours.

Page again footstep tracked, even on the non-veg. She went straight into the parking lot, and she was really funny about checking down the cracks to follow her scent. She really enjoyed the stuffed toy as the first article found on the track and gave it a good shake before surrendering it and returning to her job. However, the toy taken from Archie's crate must have had his cooties on it, because she didn't care for it!

Page did hit a little wall at the last turn and lost some focus, but she got through it and found the glove at the end. She's such a great little tracker!