One of my resolutions for the new year is to blog at least once a week, hopefully more. I slacked off, obviously, but hopefully I will start writing again with new dedication in 2014. Here are all my dog-related goals for 2014.
1. Be a more patient and methodical trainer. Sometimes I get frustrated too easily, and that does not help my dogs learn. I also sometimes do things haphazardly, and though they can generally figure it out anyway, I'd like to be more “scientific” about it. Think up my various criteria beforehand and stick to them, that kind of thing.
2. Graduate Kaline at the end of June/early July. He will be 24 months old at the end of April, at which time I plan to have an orthopedist evaluate his elbows and hips for mobility work. Assuming (fingers crossed!) that he is cleared, that gives us about two months to train and polish his bracing and counterbalance. Obviously, this is not a hard and fast deadline. If he needs more time for me to be comfortable calling him a full-fledged service dog, then he shall have it.
3. Earn Juno's Rally Excellent title, get more than one leg toward her RAE title. She is only one leg away from RE, so that's doable. For RAE, she has to qualify in both Excellent and Advanced in the same trial to get a leg. Not sure how many trials we'll be able to afford this year, hence the vague number of RAE legs.
4. Earn Kaline's Rally Novice title, start on Rally Advanced.
The first trial for the three of us is in a few weeks, the Mission Bell Cluster trial. Three trials in two days. It could be a little bit exhausting. I'm hoping against hope for eight qualifying runs (pause for guffaws) ... But what I really need is Juno to get her RE in the first trial. Cause we entered Advanced and Excellent for the second and third. Eek.
So, things that have been happening. Juno is no longer doing any mobility work, because it makes her too sore. Kaline just started working in the BLD harness and is doing pretty great in it. Today we worked a lot on going up stairs (he's pretty good except for swinging his head) and going down (where he tries to go way too fast). The movie theatre people seemed rather perplexed by us, but we went up and down the enormous set of stairs somewhere around five or six times. And he got way more careful and attentive about going down!
The biggest recent breakthrough came courtesy of Sonja. Kaline clearly understood the concept of retrieving, but generally was not excited to do it with any object that he wasn't already interested in. In fifteen minutes, Sonja had him gleefully retrieving practically everything. The key? A pink retrieving dummy filled with treats, and making the objects, all of them, super super fun. Kaline now retrieves almost anything I ask him to (we're still working on being comfortable with metal). I got a key fob from K9 Lifeline Designs, a fantastic SD gear company—it's made of paracord, so Kaline loves the feel of it in his mouth. I'm working on adding weight to it, and eventually I'll attach my keys to it so he can retrieve them using his fob.