Bye for now

Sorry, guys. I can't do it. I'm not well enough to teach classes at Fenzi, have a bit of a life, train Serra and Syn, and write the blog. Can't do it.

Getting serious

My life continues to knock me down. First sidelined by having to put old Stitch down. Even when you're expecting it, it hurts. Then my dad had a little heart episode. I've had enough adventure for this year, thanks.

Alright. Let's get on with it.

We started today by going for a run. He and Stitch were good about staying close to the Gator. Much easier for me to keep an eye on them when I don't have to keep looking back to watch Stitch toddle along. At the dugout, once again he waded in but couldn't quite manage to launch into swimming. If the weather's good we'll go to the lake this weekend where I can wade in ahead of him and help him learn. In the meantime, we have to get back to working on retrieving. He's great at chasing, picking up, carrying - until he notices something else, whereupon he drops the bumper in the mud and goes haring off in another direction. Then when I ask Syn to get the muddy bumper, he goes to take it from her, realizes his mistake, and then goes after her tail, with Really Bad Results.

Then we did some nosework (trial coming up in 3 weeks). Syn was great, Serra... decided that I was going to pay for indicating rather than all that "finding" nonsense, so three of his four searches ended up with me leading him to the source. The fourth one was perfect with a good search and a solid indication with super duration. I need to back up a bit, I'm working him above his ability.

And finally, we have (had) a Dutch door between the kitchen and the front hall. Last night friends came over and he hit the door in full tackle mode with both front paws. Popped it right out of the wall and broke it into pieces. Ron went back and forth all day today between calling him Bonehead and Destroyer Of Worlds. I actually think it might be a good thing because the first thing we do when somebody's coming over is lock the dogs up - which isn't teaching him anything useful at all.

Dog person came over this evening and I got both of the dogs to sit in the kitchen looking wistfully into the front hall while we talked. Only had to shut the door in guest's face four times before he decided I was serious and decided to stay in the kitchen. I must say Syn wasn't a lot better than Serra was. So there's another thing we'll be working on over the next few days, along with the whole idea that every single shoe, piece of clothing, and roll of toilet paper does NOT have to end up in the dog yard. Fortunately so far he shreds the tp but only relocates the shoes. It's nice to have a plan.

Swimming

Went to a pet store today, limited slip collar, no tugging, met several people and didn't lift his feet off the ground, kept his leash loose (one moment of forgetfulness as we got to the rawhides), kept his mouth to himself. Wonderful outing. I do have to start training again soonest, but I'm having such a good time just exploring his wonderfulness. What a SWEET person he is.

Barn hunt class and beginner agility class tomorrow evening.

This afternoon we went for a run with the Gator. I left the girls loose but kept Blockhead on a leash until we got to the dugout, which is 2 shelterbelts and 3 fences away from the road. He's purebred (so relieved to see this... ), he waded right into the water, tried to drink the dugout dry - but limited himself to wading. I hauled out a bumper and started tossing for Syn, which really annoyed him. From this he learned that she's liable to castrate him if he tries to take the bumper away from her when she's swimming. Point taken. After a dozen or so, I asked Syn to stay and started tossing the bumper for Serra, at first just in reach without swimming, and finally just out of reach. He thought about it, turned back, tried another direction, turned back, thought about it. If he couldn't do it, I sent Syn to get it, which annoyed him more. Finally I got a perfect toss about a foot too far out and after wishing it in didn't work, he launched and got it. It wasn't more than one stroke out and one stroke back, but it was actually swimming. He's going to be a bona fide water baby. That's going to make conditioning way more fun.

Together again

It's now May, and the last five months have been the worst EVER. Moved my 90+ parents out of their house and into a senior's apartment, got a bad flu for Christmas, then the concussion, and then the new shoulder. There was nerve damage in my shoulder before the replacement, so rehab is not going brilliantly. Those in the know say it's a matter of maintaining range of motion (which is good) and hoping the nerve comes back in the next 6 months. As it is I can lift my arm up to horizontal - which is more than I need for tossing bumpers and dumbbells, so if that's as far as we get, I can live with it.

I can't begin to say how grateful I am to my friend Dawn for telling me to send Serra out for board-and-train until I was up again, and to my friend Barbara (dogsden.ca) for the job she did with him while she had him. While he was with her, she was running him loose on our farm several times a week with her dogs, and taking him to her class for other people to work with.

Several days ago Serra and I started working on Nosework using wintergreen, which is the Novice scent in the trial I've entered him in next month. He made the transition from tea to wintergreen with no trouble at all and yesterday I started introducing him to the idea of resting his head on the container when he found the scent. So far so good, but Giants are always happy to rest their huge heads on something!

Today we went to the parking lot of Lowe's and worked on looking at people walking by. What a perfect trip! He came out of the car on a loose leash and kept it loose for half an hour as people went by carrying various large parcels and pushing carts. A couple went by pushing flatbed carts with plywood sheets flopping back and forth, and a car drove over a balloon with a loud bang. I imagine the driver was startled by the noise, but the only thing that bothered Serra was a family of three giggling kids walking by pointing and screeching cheerfully about the pretty puppy. I had to touch him on the side to get his attention as he was prepared to enter into the whole giggling, screeching party with joy. He didn't lose it completely, just went forward and started to tighten the leash, and when I touched him he came back willingly for a treat. We walked up and down between the cars and did some work on you-must-walk-on-MY-side-of-posts (which he was pretty good at).

I'm in love.

Also I caught my husband last night - he of "we really don't need another Giant Schnauzer, do we?" and "Gosh, he's very large!" - with his arm around Bonehead pointing at the TV and talking to him about the finer points of being a hockey goalie. "Yeah, buddy, that's what a boy and a dad do together, they watch hockey!"

Surgical time out

The good news - I got a new shoulder joint.

The bad news - I can't possibly do anything but warehouse and screech at a 90-pound 10-month-old Giant puppy while trying desperately not to move my arm and guarding it to be sure it doesn't go in a naughty direction (because if it dislocates we have to start all over again). I wasn't ready to do anything sensible but fortunately friend Dawn suggested I send him out for a board-and-train with friend Barbara (http://dogsden.ca). By the time I was out of the hospital, I was more than ready and Barbara agreed to keep him until I get the green light from my surgeons to use my shoulder normally. The more I think about this the more grateful I am to both Dawn and Barb, because I can't think that Serra and I would have come out of this with any kind of positive relationship if I was trying to keep us both sane and safe while not being functional enough to actually think or walk around.

And while I'm thinking about this, I'm so thankful that his training is 100% non-physical, which means that any control comes from his brain and not from me yanking him around, so the only danger we'd be dealing with would be his 10-mo baby brain and momentary excitement. Can't wait to get him home! (and to be able to drive again, and to be able to move my arm without taking a pill first, and to walk outside without having a bodyguard on either side of me, and to sleeping in a bed instead of a recliner... )