17 Weeks 5 Days- Retrieving a Stock Whip

Nov 9, 2004 | Stitch's Story

This morning I add a 5′ stock whip to her pile of retrieve articles. She leaves it until last, then brings it back with no trouble – well, she makes the decision with no trouble. She quickly decides to pick it up (x3 to let her know), then tries to bring it, trips over it, lands on her nose, goes back, picks it up with it trailing out between her legs, tries to lift it and herself, etc. The point being, she immediately tries to bring it to me. And eventually it lands at my feet. I don’t really believe in jackpotting, but I confess I’m jackpotting if I can grab something before it hits the ground – since I’m not holding items in hand and having her hold them with me, every time I move my hand toward her, she thinks she’s being rewarded, so she drops the item. I caught 6 of them this round, and gave her all the kibble I had in my other hand each time. Her lifts are getting more secure, and her carries are getting longer. I’m not sure it’s going to work, but after breakfast she brought me two things I didn’t want her taking outside. Usually when I call her she drops what she’s carrying. I love to watch her lift the FlexiLead. I’ve left the cord out several inches. She lifts it by the snap, and it swings so hard her head rocks with it, but that doesn’t seem to bother her. Sometimes I wait too long to click for a carry and she decides that the article she was carrying isn’t paying off so she searches for another one.

Then I put out her target spot on the floor. Wee hah, she doesn’t even THINK of retrieving it, just whomps it thoroughly with both front feet. X20 around the room, then I pick it up and show her the upright one on the couch. She’s busy playing with my hand. Hmmm. I lure her around until she’s facing it, ask for a Sit Stay, then tap the target. Oh! Whomp! X20, then I raise it to 6″, no problem.

I spend the rest of the day training llamas for a jump-off. The day seems to be holding its breath waiting for snow, so for supper we go outside and play on agility equipment. Stitch doesn’t run right for the contact trainer, but holds Eye Contact as I get the clicker and kibble ready (ee hah!). As soon as she realizes I’m walking toward the trainer, she gallops up it. I barely get some kibble on the top in time, then drop a few at the bottom of the ramp for the contact. X10 with great speed and enthusiasm.

I have the two dogwalk ramps flat on the ground (they were forming a backup chute for llamas – lots of work to do this month!). I start clicking her for stepping on them. At first she thinks I’m paying for stomping them with her front feet. After each click I put that kibble a few inches further down the length of the board, and take her back over to the contact trainer a few times until she figures out I’m paying for walking the boards. X30. I think there’s not enough difference between the board and the ground, especially with the grass being fairly long.

I attach the ramps back on the dogwalk at about 24″ off the ground and start clicking and luring her up them that way. She gets halfway up and bails a dozen times. Finally I straddle the horizontal part of the dogwalk facing down the ramp. That does it, she keeps coming all the way up. I skoosh backwards the length of the board and get off in time to lure her down to the ground. To my surprise, at that point she turns right around and runs the dogwalk! I have to really hustle to get the kibble on the down contact. Holy cow! And again. Now I’m out of food and I go back toward the house to get some more. Twinkie runs the dogwalk parallel with me. I wasn’t expecting this, I had called her away from it before I started for the house. I don’t realize she’s on it until she’s in the middle of it. She catches me looking at her, looks back at me, and falls off onto her back on the lawn. Oh garf, the end of an agility career, woe is me, alack, alas. I give her a cuddle and make sure she’s OK, after which she runs back to the beginning and runs the dogwalk again. Tough little bird! This time when I’m done, I make sure she’s with me when I head back.