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Posts Tagged ‘dock diving’

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

101009_0041

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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Andy introduces Shotguns to the training mix

Andy introduces shotguns to Patrick

Training for hunt trials and hunting can be two distinct activities. And the different organization  that offer hunt trials, such as the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club, add even more complexity.

Andy prefers the trials presented by the UKC over the AKC because he thinks the UKC trials represent a more natural hunting scenario to the dogs and handlers. One element is the use of guns and live fire over the dog as it would occur in a duck blind.

So the first step in his process is to include an unloaded shotgun at the line, cock it, point it down range in the direction of the ducks, and dry fire on an empty chamber at the time of the launch of a duck or dummy. If the dog is smart, they will associate the muzzle direction with where to look so they can accurately mark the fallen duck.

In time, live fire will be added after the dog is steady at the line (not bolting before being released) and improving in their marking skills.

As I was standing back with the camera for this photo, Andy was demonstrating with another IWS named Patrick. After this demo, Cooper and I came to the line and repeated the process. His steadiness is getting really good, and his introduction to live gun fire will occur this week.

Andy reports that his steadiness for water entries still needs a bit more work as his excitement at demonstrating his “dock diving” skills sometimes over-rides his discipline. Andy has remarked that his water entries are rather spectacular for a rookie trainee, but then, Andy has yet to see Cooper in his civilian job as dock diver extraordinaire.

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Tooey had a taste of river water at a local park in Portland early this morning. As far as we know, this was her first exposure to water (other than baths, and they don’t count). We were curious to see what she’d do.

down to the river -- where's the squeaky Wubba toy?

down to the river -- where's the squeaky Wubba toy?

083009_water entry3

nice water entry

oh, there's the wubba

oh, there's the wubba

bringing it in

bringing it in

happy wet dog

happy wet dog

doing it again

doing 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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