Thursday, June 6, 2013

June 2013

Present day Tennessee...

After a couple of months of settling in to our new space, Spice and I, well more I, are going to start training again.  I have no idea if we will ever compete again but it makes both of us happy to train.
It's been a great time here.  I have gotten to catch up on life with my sis, can now navigate around the area without getting lost, just a note here--all roads lead to Poplar and from Poplar I can find my way home.  Who needs Garmin? 
Ben has been a joy and I have cherished the time going to soccer games, chess nights, watching him earn his Tae Kwon Do yellow belt, filling in for mom and dad at school book day, seeing him graduate from second grade, teaching him about volleyball and flag football (who knew I was such a font of info?), playing board games, Wii sports (found out I only do Bowling with any accuracy) and Mario Kart is our latest thing. 

Spice is teetering on the edge of being ready for novice obedience.  Her heeling is the only true obstacle to our success.  This is entirely my fault.  For the past two decades all of my obedience dogs have stunk at heeling.  Not just off leash heeling either.  I believe it is because I don't particularly find heeling very much fun and that translates directly to Spice.  She is pretty much in tune with my thoughts, feelings and physical being.  Dang it...
After a consultation with my training mentor, Sahra, we are going to re-train or maybe a better way to put it is to learn to have fun with heeling.  Today we spent a total of 5 minutes on heeling.  I got out the hot dogs which is a Spice favorite and we did some very short heeling with many food rewards, continuous chatter from me about what a good dog she is, marking the good stuff with Yes and all in sessions of about 3 to 6 steps each.  I didn't get bored, Spice didn't bored and it was all positive.  I didn't worry if she sat when I stopped, only that she was rewarded for happy, focused heeling.  Then I threw in about a minute of refreshers on focus.  She remembered all that she learned an eon ago.  So I can raise both arms at shoulder height and she will focus on my face without any verbal encouragement with about 90% accuracy.  Good girl Spice!  One happy at a trot recall, two sit-down-stand-downs, and two swing finishes (one verbal, one signal) and we were done.  Ten minutes tops and I nearly had to drag her back into the house. 

I think tomorrow we will start working on getting a happy dumbell retrieve--she loves the stuffies, but I don't think retrieving Ben's monkey over the high jump will be allowed.

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