Tooey, my sweet Tooey-Too, turned 3 years old yesterday. She got a bath, and a bone, and a Beginner Novice run at an Obedience match. She also got a chance to do some field training today.
With Tooey, I’m just working with her as time allows, not really stressing it. She has one pass at a Junior Hunter test, but several failures. One of her major problems has been that she wouldn’t happily pick up ducks. She’d pick up bumpers, but not ducks. And, alas, ducks are what are used in hunt tests.
But maybe with maturity comes a change of heart.
Just after dinner last night, we prepared for today’s training by getting the ducks out of the freezer so that they could be at least a little thawed by this morning. We put them in a bag, on the counter. Tooey spent almost the entire evening lying down, parked in front of that counter.
Then, this morning, all she wanted was to follow that bag of ducks into the car. After we put the bag of ducks on the back seat, we practically had to drag her away with the leash to take her for her morning’s constitutional.
We got to the training ground, and much to Tooey’s vocal exasperation, Cooper ran first at today’s training, and did a pretty nice job in the cold, dense fog.
Cooper returning the bumper to Russ
Then Hank’s Standard Poodle, Laney, ran her marks and blinds, and then Tooey got her chance.
We set up for three single marks. The winger was loaded with a duck, Hank took out a duck for the second mark, and Russ took a bumper for the third.
Tooey sat at heel at my side, watching Hank intently. I did everything I could think of to aim her nose toward the winger, which was to be her first mark. I finally picked her up by her collar and moved her into position. Her spine was pointed the right way, but her nose and eyes were still pointed at Hank.
I set off the winger’s duck call and launched the duck. Tooey turned her head and watched it fly. I sent her, and she zoomed out, but straight toward Hank. Argh! “No!”, I said, and walked out and grabbed her by the collar, and then pointed her toward her mark. She ran out again, somewhat more pointed where I wanted her, but then she angled toward Hank again.
Fortunately, at that point, Hank started walking toward her first bird, and Tooey followed his direction, turned her head, and located the 1st duck. And picked it up and ran straight back toward me.
By this time, I was back in position, so I took that duck from her (with a lot of praise) and aimed her at Hank. I’m sure she was thinking something along the lines of “Finally!” Hank threw the duck, I sent her, Tooey zoomed out, grabbed the duck, and ran back with it. Hurray!!!
Then it was time for the third mark. I aimed her at Russ’ station. He threw the bumper, I sent Tooey, she ran out about 30 yards and stopped. She turned and looked at me, and I swear I saw the thought bubble above her head:Russ had to throw three bumpers, wave his arms, and practically jump around before she’d go out there and get that bumper. Which she finally did.
Part of me is thrilled that she now wants to pick up ducks. If that keeps up, it may be that she’ll actually go out and pick up ducks at a hunt test (although we still have a lot of work to do to get the distance and difficulty ramped up).
But part of me is, well, chagrined. She’s supposed to pick up what I tell her to pick up. I’d like to think that she and I may do something in Obedience, in which she’ll have to pick up dumbbells, metal articles, leather articles, and cotton gloves.
But I think that for today, I’ll just enjoy her zooming out and back, triumphant, with her duck.
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