Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tracking Dog Urban Test - Passed!

Magnum and I are on a high due to passing the Tracking Dog Urban (TDU) test on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015 at the Purina Farm in Missouri.  It was during the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association’s Nationals.  I am so excited.  He did a great job and was totally focused on tracking. 

His first corner he overshot and I could tell because he was searching.  He went to the left, then the right, and then straight – clearly searching.  He is a fast tracker, so he has a tendency to overshoot his corners.  He is usually about 20 feet out then indicates by searching that he has lost the scent.  So we backtracked and found the corner.  Backtracking is a skill to practice.  The dog has to lead you, not you leading the dog.  I kept telling myself before hand to just follow my dog.  The next leg was short, but he turned and on the 3rd leg he found the article left by the tracklayer.  It felt so good to find it and to know that we were on the track.  One of the judges, Ken Barna, had asked us to wave the article.  I almost forgot.  Magnum downed at it, I told him good boy, put the article in my apron, then remembered to take it out and wave it.  We were totally on grass at that point and I was thinking - where is the hard surface?  He started to make an open turn to the right.  It went over a road and then to grass, so I thought - I bet this is it.  But Magnum then went left, so I said to myself, “Follow your dog” and followed.  Good thing because of course he was correct.  Then we came to a hard surface road and crossed it, went on grass, then crossed a parking lot, then back on grass and he found the end glove.  Boy was I happy.  Magnum was happy and clearly had so much fun tracking.  Our track was 485 yards with 5 turns.

I needed to pass this for my confidence, which had a downturn.  I didn’t have a good day tracking before I left and wondered how we would do.  I just tried to stay positive and said my dog can do it.  I just need to follow him.

After we finished, one of the judges said that I did an excellent job of handing.  He said I was really good at back tracking when we overshot the corner.  It was so good to hear it. 

It was so great to see that Magnum is really a great enthusiastic tracker and can do what is asked of him.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

English Spring Spaniel Dance

It looks like my video didn’t quite work.  So I am attaching a make-up picture of Magnum performing an old ancient north woods tale.  It has been told, as passed down from dog owner to dog owner, a story about a handsome English Springer Spaniel.   When the full-moon rises and the camp fire is blazing, then the springer will begin to dance around the fire.  He performs a dance that is felt to his bones and calls out to him from springers of ancient times.  He dances with all his heart.  
The attached photo shows Magnum enacting this ancient tail.  Hope you enjoy it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Michigan and fair

I’ve been in Michigan for about a week and a half.  It is incredibly peaceful up here in the great north, just below the Mackinaw Bridge.  I’ve been staying up late watching videos, movies, and reading.  Then I sleep in late, walk the dogs, go canoeing, and swim.  Some days I ride my bike for an hour or so.  Last Wednesday Magnum and I participated in the Emmett/Charlevoix County Fair (in Petoskey) in an agility show.  We did it last year on probably one of the hottest days here – 90 plus degrees.  Fortunately the fairgrounds are up on a hill right by Lake Michigan so there was a wonderful breeze to help cool us.  This year the weather was more typical for this time of year – in the 70’s.   There were about 25 of us from beginners with dogs on leashes to about 2 other dogs like Magnum that were very good.  Magnum had so much fun.  I have attached a video that Alan took with a new digital video camera.  What is great is that it was so easy to transfer it to my Mac.  One woman came up to me before my run and said she missed Magnum’s first run and wanted to see him.  So she watched our next run.  When we finished, she said with Magnum’s ears, it looks like he might take off flying.  The course was really easy with only 6 weave poles because it was for intermediate and advanced.  So even Magnum is having fun on vacation.  Shadow was also with us and enjoyed the sounds.  The agility ring was right next to the rides, so it was really noisy. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Home from Ireland

I am just back from a walking tour of Ireland.  We walked between 8 and 10 miles a day travelling all around the Island for 15 days.  It was beautiful with perfect weather for hiking  - mid 60’s.  We quickly learned to always have a raincoat with us because it mists or rains most days.  We were fortunate that there were only two days that it really rained, but not all day.  We walked along the cliffs, beaches, through fields climbing over styles, in fields with sheep and cows, in forests, and on back roads.  One of our hikes took us around the Guinness estate and we saw a wedding party going to the house.

We were surprised with the length of the days.  It was light by 5:00 AM and didn’t get dark until about 10:30.  One of the most beautiful beaches was Inch Beach on the Dingle Peninsula.  The wide beach went on for miles.  There were few people on it with cars driving where ever they choose.  At the beginning of the beach there were at the most 80 people or so and a surf shop, which gave lessons.  We saw beginning surfers out in the water wearing wetsuits.  Walking just a short way, we left the crowd behind.  Across the ocean we could see parts of the peninsula and mountains in the mist.  It was so lovely.

Our tour included 4 from the US, 4 Canadians, and 4 Australians.  Several had family in Ireland and planned to visit them after the walking tour.  I would have loved to stay longer, but missed the dogs and cats.

Just days after getting home, I had an agility trial.  Magnum and I had a master’s standard run on Saturday that I think was our best ever.  We placed first beating out a couple of great border collies that tied and had a run off for 2nd and 3rd place.  It was a small trial, which is probably the only kind in which we have a chance of placing first.  As we finished our run, someone yelled, “Very nice!”  And, it really was.  We were both running great and were in sync.  Now if we can only do it on a regular basis.

The photo is on a beach in Ireland!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Birthday Double Q

What is a double Q?  For all you non-agility folks, a Q is a qualified run (a run with no errors) in either a standard course or a jumpers with weaves course.  A double Q means the dog had qualifying runs in standard and jumpers with weaves on the same day. 

I am of the age that birthdays aren’t that important.  It is nice to remembered.  I was fortunate to be remembered by friends, my sister, my husband, lots of facebook comments, and even a Native American school and my insurance agent.  Alan made me a lovely birthday card of Magnum sitting in my irises.  Magnum looks solemn in the picture, probably because he isn’t supposed to be in the irises and was afraid I would catch him.

This Memorial Day weekend, for the first time, I entered an AKC agility trial for three days.  When my son was young we used to spend the weekend at Alan’s family farm in Indiana with his parents.  Then for the last eight years we have gone to our place in northern Michigan.  But this year I was competing in an agility trial.  I told Magnum that the one thing I wanted for my birthday was a double Q.

On Saturday Magnum got one Q for a jumpers with weaves course.  I messed him up on the standard course.  Sunday was my birthday and Magnum and I made it – a double Q!!   Memorial Day we did it again and got another double Q. 

Double Q’s are important for our MACH (Master’s Agility Championship Title).  We need 20 double Q’s and 750 points.  Points are earned as the difference from our running time subtracted from the standard course time.  This weekend we earned about 57 points.

In all honesty I can say that two double Q’s in a weekend is Priceless.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Snow Tracking

Snow tracking is great for working with your dog on different surfaces.  Snow really holds the scent, so it makes variable surface much easier.  Get lost in the snow and Magnum and I will find you! 

While in Michigan over the holidays with over 3 feet of snow, we tracked.  Our only problem was me.  Magnum demonstrated why he is a springer in that he sprang through the snow.  I struggled to make it through the 3 feet of snow.

Now in Ohio with 6 inches or so of snow, the tracking is great.  We tracked Sunday in a business parking lot with part of it plowed.  The track was through a lot of snow and then on more cleared areas.  The track hugged the curbs.  I continue to have Magnum work on curbs because they hold the scent.  I am trying to convince him that concrete holds the scent, if he will just keep his nose down and not use his eyes to look for articles.  He is still struggling with just tracking just on concrete.  The week before on concrete with no snow he did well but used his eyes more than his nose.  My friend and I threatened to blindfold him.

On the parking lot with snow he did very well.  About 80 feet or so on the 1st leg he indicated there was an article.  I looked for it, but couldn’t find anything in the snow.  I turned and asked Alan if there was an article and he said not there but further along.  We didn’t find the article on that leg, but he made the turn and found the next article. Magnum continued on and found all the articles (plastic, metal, and leather). 

After we finished, I told Alan we would go back and look for the missing 1st article Magnum hadn’t found.  Magnum and I went back to the 80-foot area and I re-scented him and said, “Find it.”  Magnum sniffed around then used his nose as a scoop and pulled up the article.  It had been there all along, but had gotten smashed down.  Alan was impressed that Magnum found it and I was too.

Don’t use snow as an excuse not to track.   Your dog can do it.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Peak Performance

I heard a discussion on NPR about peak performance – have we reached it?  It got me thinking about the concept.  As a baby boomer, I have believed in my endless youth.  I now realize that my youth is over.  And in fact, for many of the activities I do, I am past peak performance.  It doesn’t make the activity less enjoyable, just I am not as good as I once was.  I am slower and more cautious.  For most athletic activities, youth is needed for peak performance.

Then I saw an article in the Parade magazine in the newspaper about Olga Katelko, a super senior.  At 77 she took up track and field for master’s level.   She brook 20 records at 85 and at 90 is still competing in long jump and high jumping.  Whew, you go girl.  One of the interesting facts is that she rarely sits still, constantly jumping up and doing stuff.  It got me moving too.

But there are other activities that youth isn’t the key factor.  I read more now and read a wider variety of books and think my comprehension is better.  I tried to be a good mother and was the best for my ability, but probably wasn’t the best.  Now I have a chance to be a great grandmother.  I am sure there are many other activities that aren’t reliant upon youth.  I am just pleased that I still ride my bike, walk, cross -country ski, track with my dog, and am half of my dog’s agility team.  Maybe peak performance isn’t important.