Posts Tagged ‘dog swimming’

It has been so busy for so long — not bad, just busy. Obedience practices, laundry, house cleaning, doing dishes, dog grooming,… oh, and work.

Time for a break.

Today was one of those wonderful October days. Sunny with puffy white clouds. Cool, but not cold. Not raining, not windy, with that spicy smell of autumn. My favorite kind of day.

And one of my favorite places to go is the delta, where there are hundreds of acres where you can walk your dog, leash-free — meadow, river, woods.

I’ve been working so much with Cooper lately that I decided to spend the afternoon with Tooey at the river. Swimming is her very favorite thing to do, and she’s a very strong swimmer. This late in the year, I knew the flow would not be too fast for her.

Unlike Cooper, Tooey doesn’t need a ball, or stick, or any other excuse for a swim. She just goes in and swims.

Such a sweet break in the routine. I hope I get good weather like this again next weekend. I’ll take Cooper, and of course, a ball.

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One of the advantages of an HRC Started Hunting Retriever test and an AKC Junior Hunter test is that the dog can wear a flat buckle collar, and the handler can hold onto that collar at the line.

This prevents the dog from bolting when he sees the bird, instead of waiting until he’s been sent out to retrieve it. Some pros teach their dogs early on not to bolt. They feel confident that their dogs will stay put, so they don’t bother with the collar. Other, less experienced handlers are sometimes tempted to try the same before their dog is trained and ready to withstand temptation.

Russ, knowing Cooper can’t yet be trusted not to bolt, is not so foolish. But other handlers sometimes make a mistake, and that’s the story that the photo below would tell if I’d taken it just a half second later.

If you look just to the left of Russ’s left knee, just on the water side of the weeds, you’ll see a small arc of brown that’s leaving a wake in the water. That’s the head of a collar-less chocolate Lab who had bolted and was chasing after Cooper’s duck.

So here’s the story: At last weekend’s Lower Columbia HRC hunt test, Cooper and Russ were waiting at the line, with all three holding blinds behind them occupied with a dog and it’s handler. The gunner blew the duck call, the launcher launched the duck, and the duck landed in the water. At that, Russ said, “Cooper!” to send Coop out after the duck. Just a few seconds later, the Lab, having gotten away from it’s handler in one of the holding blinds, jumped into to the water and swam full on after Cooper, who had by that time already fetched the bird and was coming back in.

It could have been bad. The two dogs could have fought over the duck. But when the Lab got to Cooper, Coop simply turned his head and the bird away from the Lab, and kept on swimming in a straight line back to Russ. The Lab growled and tried several times to grab the bird, but Cooper simply turned his head each time and kept on swimming.

And even more amazing, when Cooper stepped up onto the land, he calmly came into heel at Russ’s left, sat, and delivered the bird, ignoring the Lab who was still trying to grab the duck, as well as the gaggle of judges, handler, and bystanders who were all trying to grab the Lab.

The judges were amazed that Russ seemed so calm. The Lab’s handler had been freaking out the whole time, calling and yelling at her dog to “Come!”, which the Lab ignored. Sadly, but understandably, the Lab was disqualified for the day. Cooper passed the test with flying colors.

And here’s the thing. We’ve been inadvertently training Cooper for this very scenario without realizing it. If you’ve read the post about our taking Cooper and Tooey to St. Louis Ponds, you might remember that Tooey loves to chase after Cooper while he’s retrieving bumpers from the water. He’s learned to outswim her to the bumper, and then keep it away from her while they’re returning to land. Having some Lab try the same maneuver was nothing new after Tooey’s shenanigans.

So the moral of the story? If the rules let you do something to your advantage, do it. Use whatever opportunities for training you can get. And then be grateful when it all turns out all right.

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Today, Russ and Cooper went off to do some hunt training, leaving us girls at home. Despite the rain, neither Tooey nor I really wanted to stay home. So, what to do?

One of my favorite things is to go with Cooper to the Delta. He loves it, and he stays with me (or at least within 50 feet of me, which is close enough in such a large tract of land).

But I’ve hesitated to take Tooey to the Delta because, as both Renae and Deb observed, “Tooey’s such an independent little bitch.” But I figured it’s Sunday, I need some fun, Russ and Cooper were gone, so I decided to chance it.

This path looks straight, right? You don’t see any little pathlets leading off from the sides, do you? No, I don’t either. However, Miss Explorer Puppy did, and trotted down each one. But after the first two or three, my heart returned to it’s normal heartrate because Tooey came back to me, every time. Down the main path we went. I’m sure she thought it was worth it when we got to the beach.

Tooey loves the beach. She loves to swim. Retrieving is OK, too, if it involves swimming.

I forgot the camera, darn it, but I had my phone. I took the pictures above, and the video below, with my phone.

I took the video because I wanted documentary evidence that Tooey actually does retrieve. There for the longest time, we thought that she had no retrieving drive at all. But we know she’s interested in birds, she’s got prey drive (particularly if they’re squirrels), and now we know she’ll retrieve something out of the water.

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Tooey is on her way to the Irish Water Spaniel National Specialty in Maryland, escorted by Colleen and Renae.

Of course, they’re not walking to Maryland. This picture was taken at a stop-over on the way, where I hear Tooey is playing with the other dogs in the host household. Such a nice large, grassy yard. With a pool! What heaven!

I commented to Colleen that it was too bad the pool was covered, since Tooey loves to swim. Colleen, being the one actually traveling with Tooey at the moment, said, “Thank God it is covered as the last thing we need is a really soggy dog!”

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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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Following family tradition, here’s this year’s New Year portait of Cooper.

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Sometimes you first need the punchline, and then the full story:
092009_Life is Good

I’m sure you’ve had those weeks: everyone wanting something, some not coming through with commitments, others passing blame on to you, still others asking for what you can’t give. The whole “life isn’t fair” routine.

After one of those weeks, I think to myself — I have to do something fun. If I can find the time. There’s work. Then there’s all the household responsibilities: laundry, shopping, vacuuming, blah, blah, blah. But this morning, I decided that all that can wait.

But what to do? Well… Water has to be involved. Tooey has been to the river once, but not to the beach (as far as we know), and she’s never actually done more than jump in and wade. Cannon Beach, about 1-1/2 hours from Portland, has a wonderful policy — well-behaved dogs can run off leash. And it’s forecasted to be sunny and warm. And we have gas in the car. So off to the beach it is.

Here’s a taste of our day. First, the ocean:

Tooey, Haystack Rock, and Trice

Tooey, Haystack Rock, and Trice

Tooey running in the surf

Tooey running in the surf

Mmmm... kelp. Yummy

Mmmm... kelp. Yummy

Running, running

Running, running

Then, after a sandwich and ice cream cones, we moved on to Ecola Creek, a river that runs into the Pacific, just north of the town of Cannon Beach.

Hey! What kind of ducks are those?

Hey! What kind of ducks are those?

First actual swim (note those rear hips up and out at full extension -- so IWS-like)

First actual swim (note those rear hips up and out at full extension -- so IWS-like)

Looking for the frisbee under water

Looking for the frisbee under water -- it's down there somewhere

Once she got the hang of it, Tooey swam. We threw sticks, and then a found frisbee. The stick was easy to grab, but the frisbee was a bit more elusive. Even so, she swam out and searched, found the frisbee, and brought it in, just the way you saw it in the first picture. Life is good indeed.

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