More Birds

Training for a new sport is so interesting!  Maybe I'll never take this stuff very far but learning new foundations will always captivate me!

Vito has been the most fascinating.  When the pigeon I was using got a little torn, Vito turned into Savage Toller!  In this session I learned that I needed to stick with holds before re-progressing back to short retrieves.  I also eventually realized I needed to make the release cue very calm to prevent Vito from wanting to re-grab the bird as his "reward."  Fascinating stuff!

Later I got Vito back to the duck.  His first non frozen duck.  And interestingly enough Vito was a bit more hesitant again.  Not sure if it was due to the difference in size, taste, or just general conflict in knowing that I didn't want him to eat it!  I ended up having better luck with the bird on the ground again and doing short retrieves than doing holds.

Today's session I just focused on short retrieves.  Skipped the holds until the very end when I would ask him to sit after he picked it up.  A bit more wanting to pluck feathers came out but still pretty minimal overall.

And Zumi has continued to do great working with a real duck.  No issues at all picking it up and only occasional issues with holding it.  This last weekend was the first time we added in diversions while retrieving a duck and also introduced doubles with a duck and a dokken.
Biggest issue right now is her ever lifting butt!  Some sessions she remains insistent on completely standing and I have to go out and retrieve the duck myself until she is capable of remaining in a sit.  Thankfully she's never actually completely broken the stay and left without a release.


Easter Trial

I hope everyone is having a great Easter!  I spent the weekend with Vito at a USDAA trial.  Lots of variation in Toller Happiness Levels.  Kept me on my toes!

While I had to get there a bit early to work, Vito was entered until the afternoon.  I thought this would make him happier.
First run in Standard was alright.  Moderate speed.  Knocked the double after the dogwalk (that's always been hard for him) and then oddly enough didn't take a jump straight in line after the teeter.  No turn or anything, just ran past it.

Steeplechase was very happy and pretty fast!  But knocked a bar.
And then Snooker was Sad Toller.  Pitiful run that Vito decided to put us out of our misery early on by not even taking his beloved aframe and instead of pulling into a tunnel underneath.

Gamblers was first and Vito was very happy and nailed the gamble too!  Had to weave at a distance :)

Fancy Standard was built for Vito but he didn't agree.  It felt like the slowest run of all time.  But the video doesn't look that bad so I'll give it a moderate speed level.  Knocked 2 bars but otherwise no off courses.

Fancy Jumpers was not really a Vito course, but Vito again disagreed with me.  He ran clean and even made time!  It's hard for Vito to make time with the tighter course times in the challenger classes!  So a Q and this even got him a biathlon Q when combined with standard!

Jumpers was a bit of a NADAC course with just some weird angles thrown in.  Vito was moderately fast and was clean.  Only 2 more jumpers Qs needed now.


A Retriever Match!

Day #4 of Zumi's bird exposure went fantastic!!!  Still started out with hestitant sniffing but that only lasted maybe 30 seconds before willing to retrieve the pigeon.  Switching the duck and again only brief sniffing before doing retrieves AND holds on the duck!!!  Good enough and with little encouragement needed from me that I actually took pictures too!

Vito too :)

Then the very next day was an "informal trial" basically a retriever match.  Apparently they do one every month in the winter.  I didn't hear about it until now and I didn't want to miss an opportunity to get Zumi in the hunt test environment.  I wasn't going to enter Zumi as she only had 1 successful day of retrieving a bird, but decided to when I got there.  Technically she was too old for the puppy class consisting of 2 singles with pigeons, but they let me enter FEO.  I wanted to take Vito but due to the cold weather and me not knowing about the setup/where I could crate him I left him at home.  Zumi is easy, she could just stay in the car crate like every other dog there!

I knew there would be a good chance she wouldn't retrieve the pigeon but I was hoping that she would bite it with some encouragement.  No such luck.  On the first single Zumi marked it perfectly and ran out with great excitement but then just started sniffing the bird.  She told me that she needs to learn each bird's story before she will pick it up.  I ran out into the field with her all the way to the bird and while Zumi remained happy and interested she just wouldn't mouth it.  The guy still had me do single #2 and somehow it went a bit better.  Still no retrieve of the pigeon but she mouthed it a few times once I went out there with her.

The judges let me take the pigeon and keep working on it.  It took a bit of encouragement again to work up from sniffing to actually biting, but Zumi would do retrieves of the pigeon on the sidelines.

After the first test I approached the nice judges and asked if they would let me use dokkens on round two to get success and build her confidence.  They hesitated but agreed!
Throw #1 went pretty well although she was a bit distracted by something on the ground and broke her line to see it before correcting herself.  Unfortunately then 2nd throw the gunner didn't use my dokken and used the pigeon.  I didn't realize it, thought he fixed it on a resend, and it took some time for her dokken to get out there.

Puppy Derby Round 2

So not exactly picture perfect.  But considering birds are so new for Zumi I couldn't really expect too much.  I am glad I went though and I am proud of her first real exposure to gun shots and being in such a new environment.  And while it was a bit scary to be a non-camo wearing, vegetarian, positive trainer, woman, everyone was pretty nice.  I just smiled, kept my mouth shout, and nodded a lot at well intentioned advice on doing "the program" and starting force fetching.  It was also helpful that I wasn't completely alone as another positive training friend was there with her young Labrador puppy.  Who actually did amazing!


Dock Diving Trip #2

Took a drive down on Friday for some more dock diving practice with the tollers!

I was thrilled to see Vito pick up right where we left off.  No hesitation at all from the start about jumping off the dock for his toy!  I have no idea what I'm doing with this sport but I tried to work on Vito's upward jump and getting him to catch, or think he can catch, the disc.
This was his second turn on the dock and I think he almost doubled his starting distance from the first turn.

Zumi remained skeptical of jumping into the water.  She says sliding in where her feet can still touch the bottom is much more sensible!  We basically started from step 1 again and re-built our way back up to where we ended the last visit.

I still have hope that once we finally get there she will be awesome at it.  Unlike Vito, Zumi loves to jump for the sake of jumping.  And she still has a strong toy drive even if it's not so obsessive like Vito's.  Not sure I'll be able to take any more time to drive down to the pool though.  Best bet is trying to find a dock by a lake to jump in this summer even though I know dog's view it easier than jumping into a pool.


Bird Training

Zumi's 3rd lesson on retrieving a bird.  Since making it really high energy and fun helped her so much I went out with the same plan.  Started with the mallard as it somehow is less gross for me to hold.  Started out a tiny bit skeptical but in about 1.5min of play and tiny open mouths she was actually starting to want to retrieve it by the end (yay!) I then switched for the pigeon with the bloody head.

Success!  Very proud of the Duck!  I'm sure it won't be too many more sessions before I have to completely switch tactics and focus on calm impulse control instead of revving her up.

And Vito was a great dog for his 2nd session.  Had a few tiny moments of wanting to feather pluck or shake, but mostly was in thinking mode.  Proud of the Toller too!



Vito went in for a dental this week.  Was worried about one of his back tooth that looked pretty bad.  Took the whole day off of work so I could sit in a vet's office with him and not leave him alone.  And I love my vet for giving me that option! He was actually really calm waiting in the office area for about an hour before they were ready for his turn and since he was so calm the pre drugs hit him quickly.

I then took off for about an hour and a half before returning and apparently I came back 5 minutes to late.  The vet said Vito was passed out cold and then suddenly went into panic mode.  When I got there Vito sprinted towards me, jumped on me, and then promptly turned into this in less than 30 seconds.

The power of adrenaline! It actually took a couple of hours before Vito was able to walk in a straight line and without falling over when he stopped.  The car ride home was easy :)

And of course the best news was that the tooth looked just fine once the tarter was scrapped off!  Vito can't afford to lose any more teeth!


Zumi the Vegetarian

Zumi officially declared that she wants to be a vegetarian too.  I completely understand little Duck.  I hesitated a long time when I opened my bag of birds and stared down at the corpses.

Here is her first embarrassing session. I applaud her moral compass.

It caught me completely off guard based on her super eagerness when I attached feathers to a bumper.  It took her awhile to learn to take food and toys as a reward in exchange for giving up the feathers.
So I regrouped and did a 2nd short session with lots of rewards and the bird on the ground.  We ended day #1 with a few open mouths on the poor bird.

Today we went for a lot more play breaks and making it much more of a higher energy session after the 50sec mark.  Still concerned at the start but I'm happy with where we ended.  Still just occasional open mouths but more confident.  Fascinating how her how demeanor changed when I started to make it more energetic session with lots of breaks.  Or maybe it was just that we had a heart to heart of all the things she would have to give up if she really wanted to be a vegetarian dog.

Vito did not have any morality issues.

Feather plucker!


Building a New Platform

No more mini van.  Needed more repairs than it was worth so started looking at new options
Ended up with a 2011 Rav4, a 10yr upgrade :)  Have 7 days to decide if I can deal with the less space.
It's quite the change!  But I'm hoping the AWD and higher clearance will be better for winter driving.  Not that the last 2 winters were that bad but I'm sure a real Minnesota winter will appear again at some point.

Nothing fancy installed.  But the cassette tape is traded for an auxiliary port ;)
In order to make use of the cargo space under the floor Adam had a great idea for building a cutout bottom plank to put a new platform on.  Brilliant.

Biggest issue right now is visibility.  Not too bad seeing out the back for driving and changing lanes but right now I don't feel comfortable going in reverse.  Unfortunately a shorter platform couldn't fit in 2 crates underneath and this is already shorter than the minivan's platform was.  

Missing in this pic is a 2nd piece for the bottom.  It had to be 2 pieces to fit snugly on the floor.

Vito helped measure. And ironically enjoyed sitting in the new car most of the day as we worked on the project.  He likes cars that don't move apparently.

We will also see how Vito adapts to another change.  Not that it can really get worse.  I think this blog is overdue on a Vito anxiety situation update.  


First Entry

I filled out entries this morning for Zumi's first agility trial!  Not until the end of April so I think it's the earliest I have ever sent in entries for a show.  Usually I don't remember until the last few days.

I'm excited because a UKI trial as her first experience was always my dream and it actually worked out perfectly with her age.  UKI will allow me to do toy runs for her if I need it or if I just want to reinforce listening to me.  Plus it will be a small trial and at a location she has done a handful of fun matches at.  Downside is the flooring my dogs always seem to slip on there but it's the only place UKI Trials are held.

Since spring appears to have arrived early in Minnesota, at least for a little while, I might even have my equipment back out in the yard soon to really start practicing again!  Will have to wait a little bit longer to not jinx the nice weather :)


Vito USDAA Trial

Trial weekend for the toller!  We both managed to be injury free this time :)

Saturday went fantastic!  3 out 3 Q's and the first two runs of gamblers and standard were a super happy toller!  By the 3rd run of snooker he was a little bit slower but not quite Sad Toller.

Actually the standard run really made me proud.  I don't think either of us noticed the bar setter in the corner until after I had already sat him practically in her lap!  That is a huge accomplishment for Vito!!!  And then he broke his startline (allowed in trials!) and since I wasn't yet out of his path to cue a better line he smashed into me and knocked me to the floor.  I got up and played with him a tiny bit before continuing and we even managed to qualify.  Of course it's on video :)  You can put my fall in slow mo if you want!

And just because gamblers is hard for Vito, here's proof of the Toller going far far away from momma and actually doing the gamble at the end!  And proof of me in the opening forgetting what end of the tunnel I was going to send him in after the aframe, then having to wait for him and not being able to properly tell him where I wanted to go after the aframe.  Bonus dogwalk and I look smoother than I felt in scrambling my plan afterwards.

Sunday was harder for Vito.  Sad Toller in jumpers.  And the video makes the tunnel look more in line than it actually was for our off course. I think Vito was the only dog in the entire class to find that tunnel at that point in the course!

Pairs went better and Vito was happy again.
And Grand Prix was at least happier than jumpers was.  Still not moving much but oh well.  Lovely commentator friend understands Vito :)

We get to have one more trial here in a few weeks before local USDAA trials start to become less frequent and they all move outside.


Kitty Wheel Progress

Well the Kitty is using the wheel.  For cookie earning possibilities at least.  Considering his reward is really crappy cat kibble it might be equal what he's burning off and putting in?

Tried to get some video of Luke a few days ago.  This is about typical although me standing up to tape angered him a bit.  He knew I saw him on the wheel and was upset that he wasn't getting a cookie tossed right away!  Usually I'm on the couch and I have to not turn and look at him as every time I do he meows at me for the cookie he clearly must have earned.  



Duckie has moved up to doing doubles!  Although her first time with Adam throwing the doubles this past Saturday was very exciting.  Glad I have a box to help remind her to sit.  It will certainly be some time before she's ready to work with real ducks.

Vito has progressed to some distance on his single throws and his first time doing the larger mallard.  I'm also constantly reminded how less of a foundation he has with right sided work...
Whistle sits are new but I think he's starting to get the tiniest hint.


Zumi 16 Month Video!

Made Duckie a new video!  Still working on lots of little pieces but some of them are starting to be strung together now.

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