Thursday, April 28, 2011

Some of Hardy's Activities with video and photos

 Hardy went to church with us Sunday (Easter) and once again, behaved beautifully! One thing I have had to accept is that members of our church (most of whom are personal friends) are, in fact, going to talk to and pet my service dogs. It doesn't matter that there is a patch on each vest telling them not to or that our minister has announced in church that you shouldn't (and he is an offender himself). Some of them will approach us saying, "I know I shouldn't but ...!" I will remind them that they shouldn't bother a dog who is working and I'll let them know why but I use the time to work with my dog on what they should do when someone want to talk to them and pet them. Both of them are good at coming back to me, reconnecting and refocusing on work - it is easier and more natural for Hardy. This Sunday's service was longer than usual and included communion. Hardy was laying comfortably next to me in the row so we passed the communion trays over him. 
Hardy's first C-WAGS Rally trial

Hardy doing his first Zoom 1 run

Hardy watching me carefully during our rally run

Hardy's lovely stride in our Zoom 1 run

Hardy checking to see what we're doing next
Monday and today, we worked on rally and obedience skills - especially the long sits and downs. We are starting the formal retrieve with "take" and "hold", using the clicker, of course. I am using a Halti head halter when I don't have the time to work on loose leash walking (when I can't stop or turn around and go backwards every time he gets close to tightening the lead). I am also using it when he is dressed and working out in public - it gives me such nice, gentle and precise control that I may continue that throughout his career. 
Yesterday, we had our agility class. I've included a video from last week which shows the types of exercises and courses we are now doing. He is still only jumping 12 inches in order to protect his growing bones but he does the full height dog walk and A-Frame, a 1/2 height teeter and the tunnels and chutes. Yesterday we had a course that included the teeter and a tire jump. Our instructor, Ana, had sent us videos of nasty tire jump accidents and had reminded us that we need to be careful sending our dogs to the tire jump - we can't be sloppy or treat it as just any other jump. 
Hardy jumped off the teeter while it was still up in the air. We went right back and tried it again with me reminding him to be slow and careful ... he had scared himself some since he came  back and was very deliberate! We did it several more times during the lesson and he regained his confidence but used more care as well. 

After doing the tire jump a couple times in various exercises, we went to do the entire course. Instead of jumping it, Hardy ran right into the tire; knocking down the entire jump and the ring gating next to it. He was unhurt but trapped inside the frame of the jump. He waited and held still when I asked him to and I was able to extricate him successfully. I called him through the jump a couple times (he was a bit reluctant) and then he jumped it with me wheeling past it. We began the course over again and he jumped it with confidence. We did it a couple more times at the end of class. Apparently, no one had lowered the tire jump before we started and although our instructor apologized, I hadn't noticed it either. Even if it had been the correct height, I'm not sure that would have made a difference since it looked like Hardy hadn't bothered to jump. I must admit that if he was going to be sloppy and not jump it successfully, I'm just as glad he did it when the tire was so low that it was resting on the ground. And I'm very impressed with Hardy's level of confidence, trust and willingness - when something doesn't go correctly, he just comes back and tries it again using extra care!
Friday, Laurel and Hardy are going out to his breeders for the night. Brent and I are going to NYC for a long weekend soon and they will be staying with Donna. I must admit that I am already feeling anxious about it. Obviously, I need more work on separation anxiety!

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