Saturday, November 6, 2010

First Obedience Trials

Well, Scott and I took the plunge and entered Sula and Noel in their first obedience trial, the first weekend in December. We only entered one day since we have other commitments that weekend, and also to see how things go with them. While the first trial with a new dog isn't quite as nerve wracking as the very first trial ever (with our first competition dogs), there is the still the stress of the unknown. What will they do at their first trial? Will they get distracted and nervous in the strange environment? Will they freeze and forget everything we've taught them? (this is unlikely but something we still worry ourselves with!) We have worked hard getting them ready for this, practicing in new places and with all types of distractions, but there are still no guarantees. However there are a few things we can do to make sure the day goes as smoothly as planned: First, arrive early at the trial and allow ourselves plenty of time to get crates set up and get checked in; Second, allow the dogs some time to get acquainted with the new setting before being put in their crates; Third, remember that this is just a dog show and in the whole scheme of life is not a big deal; Last but most important, have fun with our dogs - that's why we do this in the first place!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Training clubs

My activities have been limited the last few days due to another bout with pneumonia. Yesterday was the worst and I couldn't walk across our living room without getting winded. I need to recover soon though because November is going to be a busy month. Scott and I are busy volunteering for the Humane Society of NE Iowa (formerly PAW), helping them move forward toward the goal of building a shelter. Then of course is Thanksgiving, as well as our local training club's annual AKC agility trial which we will be working at.

Several years ago our club (the Upper Iowa Training Club) had died down to just a few members. Now our club is thriving with new members joining regularly. In addition to hosting annual AKC obedience, rally and agility competitions, we also are involved in many public events and demonstrations at the Winneshiek County fair, various nursing homes, schools, public library, parades, etc. We also have several potlucks, parties and training practice sessions throughout the year. While many of our members train and show their dogs, it's not a requirement to be in the club. Anyone who enjoys their dog is welcome! The picture is of a few of our members' dogs during a club practice.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween weekend

What a busy weekend! Friday morning started off with an early morning track for Noel, to find a deer that had been shot with a bow the evening before. It was a tough track with very little blood and it took Noel a little while, but she succeeded and found the deer. Unfortunately coyotes had gotten to it first. I was very proud of this find because it was the toughest deer track we've run, and it would have been a really tough find for the hunter without the help of the dog. She never quits working. It's amazing to me how she took to this so easily - we're only able to practice a few times a year during hunting season.
Friday night was our annual kids Halloween party, which consisted of 10 boys staying overnight at our house. First was the tour through the haunted barn, then the night scavenger hunt, topped off with Frankenstein's dungeon (aka our basement). The kids all had a great time, finally fell asleep at 1am and were up at 6 to play football. After the boys were all picked up Sat morning it was clean up time, then nap time for us!

Sunday morning started off with another deer track. This time the track was very fresh with plenty of blood. The scent was so strong for Noel that she was all over the place on the track but easily found the deer within a few minutes. Most of the deer tracks we've run have been between 12-24 hours old, this was only 1-2. I've noticed during our regular tracking training (tracking human scent) that Noel is often less accurate when the scent is really fresh and in ideal tracking conditions (cool, wet, no wind). I think the scent becomes overwhelming to her, although she always finds what we're looking for.

Yesterday afternoon I met a friend at Aase Haugen home to make a dog therapy visit during their trick or treating time. Eva came along in her pumpkin costume. I brought Noah, who was a gentleman as always, and my friend had her two Pomeranians Sable and Gracie, who are both registered therapy dogs. The dogs were a hit with the residents and kids, especially since they were in costume, and brought a lot of smiles. I think Eva got just as many smiles as the dogs though. :-)