Feeds:
Posts
Comments

It was sunny when we got there, but threatening hail as we packed up to go. But in the hour and a half that we were at the quarry pond, after a somewhat rocky start, Carlin did his best to make us proud.

We started off with a 80-yard water mark that landed just up the bank in the dirt. Carlin leapt into the water from the pond shoreline, swam over there, went up on the land, and brought the bird right back toward Russ, only to drop it several times on the shore. Once at the shoreline. Once again behind Russ’s feet, and again at his side. Eventually he picked it up and delivered it, though.

Then as Russ and Carlin walked back off the line, our friend planted another bird very near where the mark had been. Russ lined Carlin up and sent him, and halleluia! Carlin went straight out. No veering off to the right as he has been prone to do. (We’ve been working on it in the yard, so maybe those drills clicked in today.)

Our friend then planted another blind, as Russ and Carlin again turned to walk away again. This one a touch farther away, on the shore of a different nook of the pond, 85-ish yards away, and only about 30 degrees off from the first blind.

Russ lined him up, waited till Carlin’s nose was pointed the right way, and then sent him. And Yay! for Carlin, he went straight again. No veering off this time either. No returning to the site of the first blind. And this time, he delivered the bird to hand with no goofing off. Such a nice job. Cheering was heard from both sides of the pond.

Then we put Carlin up while we threw a series of double marks for our friend’s dog and a couple of single marks for Tooey. (Tooey was in a mood to goof off, although she did finally retrieve the bumper both times.)

We’d gotten what we wanted and were packing up the car and chatting. We were up on a ridge, looking at another section of the pond when Russ said something like, “You know, that patch of cattails looks pretty interesting over there. Why don’t we try a long mark for Carlin.”

Now, I can be a worrier. Carlin had done such a nice job on his water blinds. I wanted to end on a success. I looked at that 150-yard distance out to the cattails, and worried that Carlin would fail. Friend said, “You’ll never know unless you try.”

So she waded out there (at one point, getting soaked up to mid-thigh), and got ready to throw a long mark for Carlin. You can kind of see her as a vertical black dot on an island in the upper right third of the photo below.

Russ signaled for the bird, it went up and then down for a splash in the water (and Carlin stayed at Russ’s side!). Russ sent him, and off Carlin went. He ran down the hill and across the flat, jumped into the water, crossed the channel, swam to the island where our friend was standing, and then located the bumper off the the right. That’s him just reaching the bumper in the photo below. You can see the wake he left on his way from the island to the bumper.

His going out was not perfectly straight to the bumper, but then, bless his heart, he came straight back. Water, land (you can see him coming back at the near edge of the peninsula in the photo below), water, land, up the hill…

…for a nice delivery to hand. More cheering was heard. Good boy!

We could see that the sky was getting darker and the storm was coming in fast. So we finished packing up quickly and left the quarry pond in a hurry. Just as we pulled out of the gate onto the highway, the rain and hail brought the clouds down and reminded us that it’s not summer yet.

Cloudy day training

We’ve been trying to keep up Carlin’s spaniel training as best we can. Some in our yard, some at a local state park, and some on private land. This last has a pond and some irrigation canals, much to our relief and delight, so we go out there to train (and help train the landowner’s dogs) whenever we are invited.

Today we were invited. Fortunately, it was cloudy and cool so we didn’t have to worry about Carlin’s over-heating. He got in a little bit of steady training (butt to ground whenever the bird or bumper is thrown), but soon he got too smart for us. He figured out really quickly that at least one of us had a bird in hand, so instead of quartering between us looking for birds he knew weren’t there, he decided to just sit and wait for somebody to throw something. Darn it! It looked like such a fun drill when we watched an English Springer Spaniel do it yesterday.

Plus he did well on a couple of a couple of water blinds. One was across a shallow pond into the sage brush, and another was across two channels of an irrigation canal with a small island in between them.

Tooey always travels with us, so today we thought we’d give her a few water retrieves, too.

It wasn’t deep enough to swim in, but it wasn’t shallow enough to run in either. More like lunging water, rather than swimming or running water. She did an okay job, but with Tooey, you never know which dog is going to show up. Today, she was less than pleased with the well-used pheasants. In my defense, I have to say that the pheasants weren’t rotten. I’d gutted them, filled the cavities with expanding foam, and froze and thawed them several times. But they had lost a lot of feathers, and there was more skin showing that she (or I, for that matter) prefer.

But she did a very nice blind land retrieve, once she figured out I had a hunk of liver that I was willing to trade for a pheasant to hand.

All in all, it was a delightful morning. (And we hope at least somewhat entertaining for the cows, which you can see in the photo.)

Southeast Idaho has many opportunities for training dogs, but is lacking in an abundance of water. (An average year will have only 12″ of percipitation.) Plus, most ponds seem to be on private land, or on parks where dogs must be leashed. So we’ve had a hard time finding ponds where we can train our dogs for spaniel and retriever work.

And this is where an Idaho dog person steps in to assist. We have met an active trainer and handler in the world of retrievers. She is dedicated to the retriever sport, to the point that she lives on a nice spread (ranch) about an hour from Boise, so she can train dogs year round. She even hosts the occasional hunt test and field trial when other areas are flooded out. And as a ranch, she has her herds of cattle, horses, and even an abundance of bee hives for honey production.

She has really helped us out by inviting us to train with her in her pastures. A nearby river feeds numerous canals and irrigation ditches that supply her ponds, so that even with the limited rain and snow in this part of Idaho, she has year-round water.

We are getting ready to run Carlin in a Spaniel Hunt Test in a couple of weeks, and having an opportunity to do blind retrieves across some water might make all the difference in whether he passes or not. Patrice made this short video. It shows Carlin doing a blind retrieve of a pheasant hidden in the sage on the other side of a shallow pond.

If he passes and gets his Master Hunter Upland title later this month, it will be in large part to the training opportunities that our friend has provided us on her dog oasis in southeast Idaho.

Dog people are really good people.

The dog walker’s maps

32 years ago, when we got our first dog, we knew nothing at all about dogs. We had to learn about house training, leash walking, crate training, basic obedience. One of the things we didn’t know is that many dogs can’t be just left outdoors all day long while the people are gone working. They can get into all sorts of mischief. They can dig under or jump over fences and escape. And they can bark or whine or howl (as one very patient neighbor finally pointed out).

I didn’t know that then, but I know it now. And if you can’t just leave them outside, you have to do something so that they can relieve themselves during the day.

I work a full workday, every week day. Fortunately, Russ works at home most of the time, so he can let the dogs out. But every once in a while, he has to travel to work. In Portland, we had a dog walker who came over at least once a week. He also walked the dogs when both Russ and I had to be away from the house all day.

So when we moved to Boise, we had to find a dog walker. Fortunately, we found a great one: Jordi at The Dog Walkin’ Divas. She’s reliable, has taught Carlin a few more leash-walking manners, thinks Tooey is beautiful, works us into her schedule if we have a last-minute emergency, and charges a fair rate.

But she also does something we haven’t had before. She sends us a text after each walk with a couple of maps that show where they went. Here’s a sample from one run with Carlin:

She also sends us photos from time to time of our dogs while they’re out walking (or not walking).

All in all, I’ve had a great experience with Jordi. And I know the dogs like it, too.

Let’s start with the good:

  • After this last Sunday’s hunt test was over, I was invited to come later this week to practice retriever work on some private land that actually has ponds on it. This is wonderful for two reasons:
    — I was invited. This means that perhaps I am losing my newcomer status a bit and slowly becoming part of a group.
    — The other reason is that Carlin and I get to practice retrieving in some water. Practice-able water is not easy to find around here – most ponds and rivers are on privately owned land, or they are on park land where dogs must be on leash and/or there are lots of kids and other dogs close by.
  • The judges and gallery were very kind.
  • I learned that somehow I have to accustom Carlin to duck decoys, which I realize now he’s never seen.
  • I brought a couple of dead pheasants home with me, which I gutted and then stuffed with insulating foam so I can use the birds for training.

Now to the not-so-good:

The hunt test went bad right from the start. We were out on the first bird (which for this test was pheasants). The first mark was about 75 yards into a pond just shallow enough for the dogs to run through. The pond was small, planted with five duck decoys at the right edge, and the starting line was about 30 yards back from the pond’s edge. A dog going straight through the pond to the bird would not encounter the decoys at all. A dog running around the pond would run right past them.

You can guess which dog I had. The one running around the pond. And when he got to the decoys, he stopped dead in his tracks. WHOA!!! WHAT IS THAT?!? Each decoy had to be thoroughly investigated.

I don’t know if you’ve seen other Irish Water Spaniels take a certain posture while checking out something potentially evil, but all of mine have done it. The dog stretches his neck w-a-a-a-y out in order to get the nose close-ish to the evil thing, while the body stretches as far away as possible. This is what Carlin did to every single one of those four decoys, one at a time.

And then, OMG!!! A breeze drifted over the water, and one of the decoys moved. Carlin jumped up and ran away several yards. At that point, he’d totally forgotten what he was supposed to be doing out in that field, so he went into default spaniel mode, and started quartering. He got farther and farther away from the bird, and I could hear one of the judged shifting in his chair. So, I blew my whistle to stop Carlin.

He stopped, which is good. But then, when I tried to call him in just enough to get him away from the decoys, he ran the other way instead. Finally, the judge said, “Pick your dog up, and we’ll give him the live flyer.”

That mark went great. Carlin lined the bird, picked it up, and brought it back to hand.

I should have stopped right there.

Ordinarily, I’d have had to stop for the day because dogs that fail the 1st series don’t get called back to test in the 2nd series. But since there were so few entrants in the Junior test, the judge invited the dogs who had failed the 1st series to do the 2nd series anyway. I thought, well, I paid good money for this, I should take advantage of the opportunity.

Actually, I should have declined and let Carlin end on the success. The next two marks looked straightforward, and they were. Carlin lined each of them, ran straight to each bird (one through rather than around some swimming water), brought it back, and dropped it 6 feet away from me. He would not pick up either bird, just nosing and poking them on the ground. Aghhh! So embarrassing.

We’ve had this bird-dropping problem before at a retriever hunt test. Since he’s successfully picked up and delivered many a pheasant at spaniel hunt tests, we had thought the problem at retriever hunt tests was that the birds were ducks. But Sunday’s test used pheasants. So, now, I’m thinking that there is something about retriever hunt tests that bugs him.

Don’t know what the problem is, though. My retriever club has had several training days that were set up just like retriever hunt tests, with guns, birds, crowds of dogs, holding blinds, a marshall, and judges (but no decoys). And in all of the recent training days, Carlin has picked his birds (both ducks and pheasants) up and delivered them to hand.

So, what to do? For now, the lawn is strewn with Russ’s decoys and I’ll run some short marks past and through them in the yard until the decoys become no issue for him. And Carlin and I will go out to the property with water later this week, and put the decoys in there, too. And maybe when I’ve done that, some other bright idea will occur to me.

I recently got an email from a woman whose dog has SLO:

Hi! I was so happy to come upon your site!! …I have an English Springer…, [we are] sure she has SLO. …We are having a really hard time getting her to take her supplements- I’ve tried multiple ways to get her to take her Omega – disguised in food, on her food, I bought filtered to decrease the odor- so many things-she just turns her nose up. She will eat cooked Salmon but that is it… She has a jaw that is tight and will not let you open and I really hate to force down her. I have left her food down and walked away and it stays that way…uneaten. …I love reading all you have written and so feel like I finally have another person who understands.

I looked back at this post Training Unawares, and I realized that I hadn’t said anything about how I actually trained Cooper to jump up onto his grooming table and take his many medicines. Here is an edited version of my reply to the woman who wrote me:

I am so sorry this is happening to your dog. It is indeed painful to watch.

I’m trying to remember how I trained Cooper to take supplements. It didn’t take long he was jumping up onto our grooming table without being asked in order to get them.

I’m pretty sure that I started out with the best, most yummiest treat ever. For Cooper, that was Yummy Chummies or Red Barn Beef Roll. Cooked or dried liver chunks worked well, too. I would show him a treat, get him onto the grooming table somehow, and then gave him the treat. He could also see and smell the pile of treats on the counter from up there.

That first treat made his mouth water, so it was easier to slip a pill or capsule down his throat. I soon learned that I had to stuff it way back into the back of his throat, or else he’d spit it out.

The thing I don’t quite remember is how I got him to open his mouth for the big fish oil capsule in the first place. I think I must have had a capsule between my thumb and first finger, while holding a treat against my palm with my other fingers. He’d open his mouth because he’d just gotten his favorite treat ever, and could smell the 2nd treat. Then, as soon as I got the capsule into the back of his throat, I gave him many, many treats – maybe even up to 10, one at a time. (They were cut into small pieces.) He soon realized he’d get a major payout for letting me stuff a pill down.

And I probably did not start out trying to stuff everything I had to give him all in the same session. But as time went on, and he was more willing, I reduced the number of treats, and upped the number of pills per session. But I always started with a treat and I always gave him a treat after every pill or capsule.

If your dog is really reluctant, you could start by giving him a treat for just letting you open his mouth a little bit. Then when he’s happy letting you do that (and that may take several sessions to teach), a treat for letting you open it little wider. Then a treat for letting you open it all the way.

Then after a couple of sessions of that, you could go to giving a treat, stuffing one small pill down, then giving many treats. And after several sessions of that, then do treat-small pill-many treats-larger pill-many treats, and etc. Gradually build up the number and size of pills you give over several sessions.

And you have to use the dog’s very favorite, very best treat. And, while you’re teaching this, I think he should get it only for letting you open his mouth and then later, stuffing pills down. The dog may change his mind about what he thinks the best treat is, and if that happens, you’ll have to change treats until you find the next very favorite.

Here’s another idea. Cooper has passed away, but my current dogs will do anything for green tripe. I can get them to eat almost anything if I have it mixed in green tripe. I buy a brand called Tripett, and it comes in cans. You might buy a can and see how your dog likes it. Then, if he really likes it, try mixing your supplement into some tripe. Start out with a little supplement and then gradually work up to the full amount. I will warn you, green tripe smells disgusting, but it’s good for the dogs. (Cleaned tripe or the tripe you can buy in the grocery stores for people food isn’t nearly so interesting to my dogs.)

Hope this helps. If not, I suggest you find a dog trainer to help you. Find one who is good at teaching dogs to do tricks using positive reinforcement. The process of teaching a dog to take pills is the same as teaching a dog to do tricks. You break the learning down into small easy chunks and reward the dog with whatever the dog thinks is rewarding. (Pardon me if you know this already.)

My best wishes,

I truly do hope it helps. Dealing with SLO is never easy, but sometimes there can be learning that makes life better.

Poop in Boise

The theme of my winter in Boise appears to be dog poop. This showed up in my Nextdoor feed today:

poop5

I wonder if many people in Boise just don’t pick up their dogs’ poop. I pick up after mine, but I did notice, while enjoying the leash-free access to many parks this winter, that many folks decided to enjoy theirs by ignoring the fact that their dogs pooped during their visit.

Ick.

And the previous owners of my new house apparently didn’t pick up after their dogs all winter, either. Admittedly, it snowed a lot this winter, and a certain number of piles are bound to have been missed no matter how diligent a person might be.

But I did keep a record on Facebook of my experience of getting the new house move-in ready:

poop0

poop1

poop2

poop3

But maybe I’m being too hard on my fellow dog owners. It looks like a bunch of them have come to the same conclusion I did, which is: It’s time to get that poop picked up.

poop4

%d bloggers like this: