Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Parking lots & retrievers....

Well, today seems to be a better day...  So I will be visiting the parking lots for some sweet drills with Darla and Spanky.  Well, that is if I can get the dogbox doors open.  Last night I went and couldn't get the bumpers out!  It's - 10 at my house, so thats what the problem is, they are frozen shut! 

Parking lot drills are fun.  The first time I did a parking lot was after I quit trying to be a dog trainer.  Darla was around 2 years old, and I couldn't even get her to a tiny 75 yard (or less) blind.  There weren't even any factors to fight!  Skrew it!  Didn't know what I was doing...   Anyhow, field champion trainer Howard felt sorry for me, (he liked my dog and said I owed it to her to tain her) and so agreed to help me.  He didnt realize that he was going to be stuck with me from there on out.  The poor man would go home every night with a bad headache after repeatedly banging his blockhead on the back of his truck.  He had soon realized that I had skipped steps, had misunderstood steps, and had generally fouled up my dog.  She wanted desparately to work, but couldn't figure out what the heck I wanted, and I couldn't figure out how!  So with Howards help, we went back to the basics and started over..  My dog is his dog Bam's age...  Bam has qualified for Nationals a few times, and I am still making acceptance speeches for my green ribbons!

Ok, so a drill is what we call anything that teaches a dog basic commands, and concepts.  We teach them things like stopping on a whistle, coming in on 2 whistles, casting (casting is where the dog changes direction by taking our "casts" with arm movements - over, angles and straight back).  We also teach them "concepts" like going past a visible bird to a hidden one, running tight to a gunner (which they don't like to do because as puppies we have taught them not to run to the guy that threw the bird), blind over and through obstacles..  A blind is where we have hidden a bird or bumper, and the dog has to take the casts to get to it just FYI.....

All the little things taught as puppies to get to this point are usually done in your backyard or a park.  To each "over" for example, we have the dog sit facing us, and we toss a bumper to a pile that was placed off to the side.  then we put our arm out that direction and command Over...  So that way, they know what the basic commands are, and can expand it in a bigger location.  We have to do this in lots of spots every day until it is solid.  Then after that we call them "tune up" drills...

Anyhow, wintertime is the time for parking lot drills since not much else can be done at night here in Alaska.  The problem is that sometimes it is so cold, or maybe in January it has rained on our snow creating dangerous footing for them so we don't work them.  When that happens, the dogs drive me crazy begging to go training by the door...  They just sit there and pout, or jump up the minute I move anywhere near the door...

Now, because of MS, parking lots are not as much fun for me.  I am super tired at night, and my legs feel like they are exploding even tho they aren't.   But, the yellow girls don't care, they are pretty sure a parking lot drill would do wonders for me.  And they are right for the most part.  Once I get out it's ok.....

At the beginning of my parking lot schooling 5 years ago, Howard told me that Darla would never pass a Q (qualifying stake in a field trial) but might pass a Master Hunter or two. Since then she has become a titled Master Hunter, has become Qualified All Age in field trials, and is running and finishing All Age stakes.  (AA is where they become field champions if they were the best dog that day)  Anyway, I hope to someday beat Howard and make him proud.  Sometimes when Darla does great at a trial, I can see him in the gallery blubbering with joy........

Tonight, if I am still doing good, and it's not -10, and I can get the dogbox open, I will go parking lot training....  :)

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