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Archive for the ‘dock diving’ Category

Carlin has always been happy to jump into ponds, lakes, and rivers, but he’s never had the opportunity to jump into a pool. And it’s been many a long year since I’ve taken a dog dock diving in a pool, or anywhere, for that matter.

Cooper, of course, jumped into water of all kind for fun and for hunting, hunt tests, and hunt training. And a five or six times, we got to take him dock diving, mostly into ponds, and once, into a pool. He loved it. And therefore, I loved it.

But since moving to Boise, I had been unable to find a pool Carlin could jump into. A wonderfully generous friend let us use her irrigation canals for Carlin to train in and jump into, and a couple of other folks had ponds that we had access to for a couple of summers. But no pools.

Then Vicki moved in about 45 minutes away, and she brought her pool and dock with her. So last Sunday, we went to try out Vicki’s pool. Oh, lucky us and happy Carlin!

The pool has a ramp from the dock into the pool. Ordinarily a dog comes back out of the water and onto the dock using the ramp. But for a first-timer dog, one who may not be certain that that clear stuff is actually something one can dive into, the dog uses the ramp at first to go into the water, and then come back out.

Once Carlin realized that there was water in the pool, there was no stopping him from jumping in, except temporarily while his handler got into position. Like the very good boy he is, Carlin waited at the back end of the dock. I stood at the front of the dock and dangled a very special toy. When I said “OK”, Carlin bolted to the front of the dock and jumped off just as I threw the toy. Ideally, I would throw the toy so that it would stay just a foot or so in front of Carlin’s mouth as they both flew through the air and into the water.

That happened once.

Irish Water Spaniel dock diving

All the rest of the 45 minutes we had in the pool, I threw the toy inexpertly (too short, too long, too high, wrong direction…) and Carlin got to sail through the air and splash, over and over and over.

Tooey got in several leaps as well, though mostly she just liked the opportunity to swim.

It was glorious.

We finally drove home, dogs zonked out in their crates in the car, all of us tired and happy and feeling blessed.

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Cooper LOVES dock diving. He loves to run and chase the toy into the water. Russ said that one of my throws was perfect — it kept the toy just inches in front of Cooper’s mouth. He flew through the air, mouth wide open, straining to catch the toy. Don’t think we got a picture of that, though (darn it!)

Tooey really improved this time out. Last time, she mostly just kind of fell off the puppy dock. Today, we decided to let Cooper show her what to do.

Tooey and Cooper jump off the puppy dock

Cooper flies, Tooey jumps off the puppy dock

Cooper flies and Tooey jumps off the puppy dock

Tooey did begin to get the idea. So, while Cooper jumped off the big dock…

Cooper jumps off the big dock

… Tooey did her own jumps off the puppy dock. And she did them in her own style — run to the end of the dock, stop, make sure the toy is still in the water, and then jump.

Tooey does a solo jump off the puppy dock

Her current style is not award-winning, but it does get her what she wants: to go swimming. Tooey really loves the swimming. There was even a time or two when she didn’t come straight back to the exit ramp because she wanted to swim just one more minute.

Tooey retrieves the Wubba

Finally, we had to leash up and go home. Even the best dock jumping on an amazing sunny and warm February day has to end sometime.

Wet and waiting for the towels and the ride home

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Thank goodness for Cooper. He’s taught us so many things, including that a dock-diving natural doesn’t necessarily start off with a bang.

Cooper started dock diving by falling off the dock. That scared him, and put him off the sport for a year. So mindful of that, we decided that whatever Tooey did her first time on the dock is fine.

Today, the Cascade Dock Dogs had a practice at the pond, so we decided to give it a try. Tooey didn’t exactly jump off the puppy dock — it was more of a purposeful slide-off. But she went from dry to wet, and had a good time doing it. Take a look:

A dry Trice and Tooey

A dry Trice and Tooey

Checking out the puppy dock

Checking out the puppy dock

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See? There's water in there...

A slide into the water

Tooey slides into the water

Tooey swims for the wubba

Tooey swims for the wubba

And she grabs it!

And she grabs it!

Shakes off

Shakes off

And gets ready to try it again

And gets ready to try it again

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In the many moments of frustration with Cooper, the thought that I got the wrong dog has crossed my mind several times. But, I have to say, that I’m glad we got Cooper. This weekend provides a prime example of why.

Cooper and I competed in the Muddy Paw’s “Fun Fair All” flyball tournament this weekend in Salem, Oregon. Cooper did really well, earning his FDX title (more on that in another post). In addition, our team won 3rd place in our division. Both of these are better-than-I-hoped-for results.

It’s been a difficult and often discouraging experience training Cooper for flyball because he likes to go running off into the other lanes (which makes the team lose that heat, no matter how well the other dogs on the team have done).

But, this weekend, with the help of all my teammates, Cooper did really amazingly well.

And that gets to what I’m grateful for. With a less driven dog, I would have done what originally I expected I’d do with my water dog — go on hikes and walks, play fetch, go boating, have a companion, and generally hang out.

But with Cooper, I have been forced out of my shy shell and into (gasp!) a team sport.

I have never played team sports — never wanted to, never thought I’d be good enough for, never found any sport interesting enough, etc.

But here I am, on a team, playing a team sport.

Cooper and Patrice at the start of his run in a flyball heat

Cooper and Patrice at the start of his run in a flyball heat

Patrice and Cooper as he finishes his run

Patrice and Cooper as he finishes his run

And on top of that, I’ve joined several clubs — also amazing for me (I never join clubs) — X-Fidos flyball club, Cascade Dockdogs club, and IWSCOPS.

So thank you, Tammy and Rosemary, for Cooper. He’s been my catalyst.

(And thanks to Laci for the pictures.)

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All sports stars have their own web pages, right? Well, Cooper’s got two. Here’s Cooper’s flyball page:

x-fidos_page_090709

You’ll find it at http://www.x-fidos.org/id87.htm. Once you get there, you can click “Back to the Team” or the other links along the left to see bios of the other team members.

And here’s the Cascade Dockdogs page:

(arrow added)

(arrow added)

You can find this page at http://www.cascadedockdogs.org/members.htm, along with the other club members bios.

Woo hoo!

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Cooper and I spent today dock diving with the Cascade Dock Dog club at the pond, where he got a new personal best!

Cooper just loves, loves, loves this, possibly to the point of obsession. As soon as we got off the dock, he dragged me back to get onto the dock to do it again. I mean that literally. At one point, Jeremy offered to help me hold Cooper, and Jeremy got dragged, too.

(I know, I know — I should be using a pinch collar, or a harness, or something…)

Some amazing jumps

All that practice paid off: By mid-afternoon, during the mock competition, Cooper’s two jumps both measured in (unofficially) at 19 feet!

taken by Laci Wentland

taken by Laci Wentland

The people who were doing measuring were caught by surprise — they were expecting the 14.5 feet he did last time, and had to do a quick shuffle along the side of the pond to get a good measurement.

What we did this time

I followed Tammy’s advice to make him down-wait at the back of the dock. Then, only when I was ready, did I release him to run. (It took several repetitions to convince him that I really meant down and wait.) By the time I was ready, Cooper was a coiled spring.

I want to thank one of my fellow X-Fido flyball team members, Laci, who brought her camera and her lab-pointer mix Marley to the practice.

She got some great pictures, and Marley, a first timer, got an amazing 18′!

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I can’t decide if Cooper looks more like a zombie or a land shark. What do you think?

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In Cooper’s first real dock diving event (Northwest Challenge Xtreme Air Dogs Competition during the Multnomah County Fair), he jumped his best recorded distance: 14.6 feet. As I had predicted, the real limitation is still my throws. I really need to give the chase toy a bit more loft, make it go straighter, and a little farther out. I also have to absolutely insist that Cooper WAIT at the start of the dock until I tell him it’s okay to run. He gets so excited that he cheats, and I get so rattled that I let him. Bad handler!

Tammy and Steve came out to the fair with Russ and me. Tammy took Cooper on a couple of jumps, so I could watch a master at work. Meanwhile, Steve and Russ both took some great photos.

Athlete and coach conferring

Athlete and Coach Tammy conferring

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And my favorite photo of the day, taken by Steve:

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Today, Cooper and I went out to the pond to practice dock diving with the Cascade Dock Dogs club. It was a very warm, sunny day — unseasonably so for the Portland area. I was sure that everyone would be out there, but happily, it wasn’t too crowded.

Cooper got lots of jumps and a lot of swimming. All morning, I don’t think I was ever more than 7th in line (although Cooper still does not understand the concept of “line” or “turns”), and for every turn we had 3 jumps. Then in the afternoon, we had an informal competition, and Cooper got 17.5′ — definitely an improvement. (Cooper does great — It’s me who needs to improve my throwing.)

cooper_090516_practice

All the way home Cooper slept in the back seat of the car, and then late this afternoon, we both napped for an hour. Then it was time for our evening walk.

And here’s the thing. Cooper walked behind me, at the end of the leash, almost all the way. It was amazing. It was like walking our old dearly departed Cleo, who never saw any reason to go faster than a leisurely stroll.

So when the  trainers tell you that a tired dog is a good dog, they must also mean that a really tired dog is an excellent dog.

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At last year’s Northwest Pet & Companion Fair, Cooper refused to jump. NW Air Dogs had set up a pool and a dock for a charity event inside the Portland Expo Center. For quite awhile, Coop had been jumping into ponds and rivers from the bank, but he hadn’t jumped off a dock, and he certainly hadn’t jumped into a pool.

Human-made pools are strange. Everything’s all clear and blue. You can’t really see the bottom. So even if we admit that there is some water in there, there’s no way to tell how deep it is. Too deep? Too shallow? Who knows? Cooper decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and declined.

This year the light switched on. And Cooper jumped. Boy, did he jump. And jumped, and jumped, and jumped again. See for yourself:

At work, I’ve been writing recently about the importance of doing enough “pleasant activities” every day to keep one’s mood upbeat. This weekend, I overflowed with pleasant activities. The picture below shows how happy both Coop and I were after today’s dock diving. The ribbon is for a 14.5′ jump — 2nd place in the day’s friendly competition!

Hugs for a job well done!

Hugs for a job well done!

Thanks to my sweet husband for taking this bright, warm, sunny, perfect boat-building-weather morning off from working on the boat to come and take pictures!

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The answer, based on this photo taken last Saturday, must be “yes”!

tail as rudder

tail as rudder

Also, brake maybe?

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Today, we decided to give dock diving another try. A local club, Cascade Dock Dogs, practices in a pond about an hour southeast of Portland. If you took a look at an earlier post, this practice took place at the same pond.

Last time, as you might remember, Cooper fell off the big dock. Jumping was not involved.

Today, though, was a different story. After several practice jumps off the puppy dock, Cooper figured it out. He got almost 11 feet off the big dock. Not quite up to daddy Balloo’s standards of 21′. (Yet.)

chasing the wubba toy off the edge

chasing the wubba toy off the edge

in mid-air

in mid-air

touch down

touch down

tail-butt junction lines up at almost 11 feet

tail-butt junction lines up at almost 11 feet

We’re considering trying it out in an indoor pool next weekend at the Northwest Pet and Companion Fair. It’ll depend — will he be too tired out from the flyball contest earlier in the day, or will that just rev him up for more action?

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balloo

CH Whistlestop’s Hula Balloo CDX RAE JH CGC MDD has passed away. Cooper’s sire had advanced lymphoma, and was too sick to go on.

Balloo was a wonderful dog. As you can see from all his titles, he was amazingly talented and versatile. He was a champion in conformation (CH) by the time he was 13 months old, won numerous obedience competitions (CDX), reached the junior hunter level in hunt trials (JH), passed the Canine Good Citizen test (CGC), and was a wonder at dock diving (MDD).

But most of all, Balloo was a very affectionate companion. One evening, while Russ and Patrice were visiting Tammy and Steve, Balloo spent more than an hour at Russ’s side, while Russ petted and played with him.

We will miss Balloo. And we will be blessed if at least some of Balloo’s wonderful qualities begin to show themselves in Cooper.

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St. Louis Ponds are in Gervais (jer’-vus), Oregon, about an hour south of Portland, down Hwy. 99E. Two sets of ponds are maintained by Marion County: one set for fishing and the other for dog training.

Cooper’s dad, Balloo, is a very talented dock-diver, so we thought Cooper would be a natural. But he hasn’t been very willing to jump off docks. But today, we hope we saw that beginning to change.

Today is a rare holiday from work, so Russ and I decided to go down to the Ponds and just toss some bumpers. In past bumper throwing sessions, Cooper would simply run into the water from a low point on the shore. But today what we got was a dog who has decided to leap into the water off a two-foot-or-so-high ridge.

Not only that, but Cooper was actually bringing the bumper to me. Amazing! ‘Course, that took a bit of doing —  I pretended I was a tree (that’s me being a tree-with-hat in the upper right picture below), and I didn’t even move to pick up the bumper and throw it until it was on my feet. But it took only three or four repetitions of that until Cooper got the point.

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puppy-dock-1-11

On the puppy dock

Off the puppy dock

Off the puppy dock

Grabbing the bumper

Grabbing the bumper

Dock diving looks fun. In theory: I mean, what’s not to love? There’s water, toys, other dogs. And Daddy (Balloo) is a champion dock diver — he’s gotten 21′ jumps off the dock.

Coop had a great time on the puppy dock, which is about 1’ high off the water. He has to be shown that the idea is to jump off the dock, not go from the dock to the ground next to it, and then into the water. But he did get the point eventually.

big-dog-dock-3

Falling off the big dock

The big dog dock was another matter entirely. Cooper kind of fell off the 2’ high dock the 1st time, and couldn’t be persuaded to jump off the end again. We got lots of help, suggestions, and sympathy. One other owner told us it took about a year for the switch in her dog’s head to get turned on, so we’ll just keep trying.

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