Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Fall Canine Camp

After having so much fun with Roo at The Canine Center for Training and Behavior's Spring Canine Camp, I definitely didn't want to miss Fall Canine Camp! But we couldn't miss work on Friday, so we went with the "Saturday Only" option.

Of course we have Wichita too now so it worked out perfectly that Jeff could go too- 2 people and 2 dogs!

We left the house at 6:30am on Saturday morning and drove out past Wimberly to 7A Ranch. It was a little hard to find in the dark, but eventually we made it and got checked in. We had breakfast and signed up for morning activities while the dogs hung out in the car. Then we walked around and explored the ranch for awhile. It's a pretty cool place, they have some guest rooms, an old west main street with small buildings including a cowboy museum and a real ice cream parlor. We walked down to the Blanco River too, but it was too cold for swimming.

Our first activity of the morning was lure coursing. Roo has run lure a few times at the Canine Center. Wichita and Comet (the other dog in our group) had never done it before. So trainer Shari had Roo go first to show the other dogs how it's done. Roo ran a couple of laps and Wichita freaked out! Shari was sure he was watching the lure move and wanted to chase it, not barking & whining at Roo. Either way, she had Jeff unclip Wichita so he could run and suggested we let Roo run with him, since the dogs know each other, she thought Roo might show Wichita what to do. Wichita did not need a teacher. He LOVED chasing the lure, and Shari was impressed by how fast he was! There were a lot of the super sharp grass burs in the lure area, and unfortunately, Roo kept getting them stuck in his paws. He always stops moving when he gets a grass bur and waits for me to get it out, so he stopped on the course a few times, while Wichita just kept on going. For some reason, Wichita barely picked up any grass burs and poor Roo was getting all of them. They got about 4 turns on the lure course and ran a few laps each time. Shari noticed that they were working together to chase the lure, which was pretty fun to see. Our one true failure at Canine Camp was that Jeff and I did not take any pictures or videos of the boys on the lure course. It was so fun and impressive, but I can't show any of you. I already knew that Roo really enjoys lure, but it made me so happy to see that Wichita clearly loves it!
Since I failed to get pictures, here's a random internet picture of a lure coursing machine and lure (the white plastic bag)
We still had a little time left before the next activity, so we went over to the tracking station for a few minutes and trainer Jyl showed us the very basics of laying a track and getting your dog to follow it. Since we only had a few minutes, I'm not sure if  either dog really picked it up well or not. But Jeff and I learned a little bit and can test it out at home now.

Our second session was field first aid with Dr. Zimmer. The dogs didn't enjoy that nearly as much as lure, since they just had to sit and listen. But Jeff and I found the information very helpful, especially since we like to hike and plan to go backcountry hiking/camping with the pups next summer. Dr. Zimmer talked about overheating & heat exhaustion, hypothermia, snake bites, cuts, bloat, and a few other issues.

Then it was time for lunch and a little more exploring of the property. We also got Wichita to jump an agility jump for the first time ever, we didn't realize this would be useful later.
Roo demonstrating the jump for Wichita
Wichita says "oh, this is easy"
Our next activity was hiking. Again, Roo and I had done quite a bit of canicross hiking at Spring Canine Camp, so I knew what to expect. I loaded Roo's pack with 4 full bottles of water and put it on him. Shari had a pack for Wichita to wear but we left it empty since he's not used to wearing a pack yet. We put on our hip belts and hooked up our canicross lines. We pretty much just walked around the ranch and down to the river and back since 7A Ranch doesn't have any real off road trails. We practiced commands like "Hike Up" to go, "Stop" to stop, "Easy" to slow down and "On By" to keep moving. We also practiced turns and swings. In canicross, the dog is supposed to be out in front and tow the person a little bit. In general, Roo is pretty good at it. We run this way quite a bit. Of course it was brand new to Wichita. It was also new to Jeff. I had told him all about it and how great it was after Spring Canine Camp, but getting to actually experience it makes all the difference! I heard Jeff tell Wichita, "Buddy, you're going to give me free extra mileage every day when we hike in Colorado". Wichita did fantastically as long as Roo was in front him and he wanted to catch up to Roo. Wichita was not so good at leading, but he'll learn.

When I saw the camp schedule, I didn't think Jeff would want to do "Advancing Your Nosework" with Wichita. I thought we'd swim or maybe Jeff & Wichita would do "Intro to Agility" but Jeff decided he wanted to try nosework with Wichita, even though it was the more advanced option. Inka the instructor was very nice about setting Jeff & Wichita up with 2 boxes to practice the "find the treat in the box" game. They went off to the side and practiced for awhile and next time Jeff & Wichita's turn came around, Wichita walked into the "harder than beginner but not quite advanced" course and found the proper box like a pro! By the end of an hour and a half nosework class, Wichita was trying to sniff around and look into every box he saw! Roo really enjoys nosework too, and for as little as we've done, he seems to be pretty good at it. Nosework is the next 6 week class I want to take at the Canine Center...with both dogs now.
Wichita working his nose like a pro
Roo working to find the scent, Wichita watching intently
Roo says, "I found it!!"
Everyone at camp participated in the Kidnapping Mystery. All the campers and their dogs were divided into teams. We had a great team: Me/Roo, Jeff/Wichita, Marla/Kona, Amy/Greta, Lory/Kida, and the one girl I didn't already know whose name I have already forgotten and her dog Brindle. Wichita was definitely the least experienced dog on our team. We knew we'd rotate through stations to find clues about who got kidnapped, who did it, why, and where the victim was taken. The stations would involve agility, retrieving, nosework, and air scenting.

We were at the air scenting station first, all 6 dogs did really well and we got all 7 clues there. We strategized so the dogs with more air scenting experience went first and those with no experience then just had to follow where the other dogs had been and it worked well for us. Even Wichita found Jackie's hiding spot with no problems. Since this was our first station, we weren't quite sure how the clues worked.
our air scenting station clues
We looked at clues and thought "maybe the kidnapper is an opera singer" Then someone turned around, looked at the Opera House behind us and went..."hey! maybe the place is the Opera House!" YES!!!
Of course it's the Opera House!
Our next station was agility, it was by far the toughest station. Each dog had to run a short agility course, you got a clue for a clean run, time did not matter. We had 3 or 4 dogs with a decent amount of agility experience and Wichita was the only one who had never done any agility. I took Roo through very slowly to make sure he hit every weave pole and didn't knock down any jump bars. Brindle had lots of agility experience, but her owner couldn't slow her down enough to get a clean run, which was a little sad because clearly she's an awesome agility dog. I was super impressed by Jeff & Wichita. Jeff had never taken a dog through an agility course (he has watched me run Roo many times, but never done it himself) and Wichita had never even seen most of the agility equipment before. Jeff took him through slowly and they got a clean run! Awesome! We got 4 of the 7 clues at the agility station.
a dog bowl and some small clothing...not so obvious
Our clues weren't so obvious this time. By the time we left agility, we thought maybe the kidnappee was a small dog who wears a visor.

On to the nosework station. For this one, we had the most experienced dogs go last, since there were 7 clues to find, the first dog had the best chance and the last dog would have to find the very last clue. All the dogs found their clues no problem, although Roo took a long time, he was second to last and "found" all the clues that had already been found before actually finding a new one. Our best Nosework dog, Greta, found the last clue in about 2 seconds!
We got all 7 clues here too and decided the motive for the kidnapping was love/heartbreak, but the Charlie Brown shirt confused us at first...then we decided that maybe Snoopy was the kidnappee and one of the Peanuts girls did it because she loved Charlie Brown. But which one loved Charlie Brown? They were all so mean to him! Lucy? Peppermint Patty? Marcy? Sally? Definitely NOT Sally, she was Charlie Brown's sister.

We'll figure it out at the retrieving station. Roo was deemed our ringer for retrieving, so we went last. Each dog took a turn going into the fenced area to find a "clue" pick it up and bring it out to the owner. Roo was the only dog on our team who loves to retrieve, so it was tough for most of the dogs. Wichita took a turn and went into the clue area and just stood there and looked at Jeff, didn't even sniff at the clues, and they were mostly fun "clues" like a rope toy, a football, a baseball, a stuffed toy, etc. Kida was the most fun. She went into the area and after some looking around, picked up the football. Lory called her, Kida stopped, looked at Lory, dropped the football, and went to Lory. She sent her in after the football again, Kida picked it up, ran around with it and dropped it again. Finally with all of us calling and encouraging her, Kida came out of the fence WITH the football, and we all cheered! Roo walked into the area, picked up a small stuffed Paddington Bear toy and brought it out to me immediately...he really does favor his Labrador genes. There was a little pepper shaker attached to the Paddington Bear so that confirmed the answer for me. I looked at Marla and held up the pepper and went "PEPPERmint" then held up Paddington Bear and said "PADDY". Marla said "YEAH!"

We told Shari that our answer was that Peppermint Patty kidnapped Snoopy because she loves Charlie Brown and she hid him in the Opera House. We were correct, so we qualified to choose one dog from our team to compete with one dog from the other qualifying teams to go find Snoopy in the Opera House. I told my team, if it's a stuffed Snoopy toy, Roo will definitely find it and carry it back, so they chose Roo to represent the team. We took off toward the Opera House with the other teams and went to check the women's restroom at the Opera House. Roo is sometimes nervous about going into small, dark, enclosed spaces. He got very nervous (plus I had no idea if Snoopy was in there anyway), so we turned around and kept looking. A few minutes later, Whiskey (and his owner) came out of the women's restroom carrying a big stuffed Snoopy toy and looking very proud of himself! DARN IT! We may not have won, but we had so much fun with the Kidnapping Mystery!

Next up was the Doggie Costume Contest. I had spent the week before camp making and testing Roo & Wichita's "SCUBA Dog" costumes. I didn't realize we'd have to parade down Main Street in the costumes! Everyone laughed at the poor SCUBA Dogs trying to walk in their fins! We got lots of comments on how cute they looked, how creative their costumes were and Jyl said that I put too much effort into these things :)  There were lots of other awesome costumes too. Judi & Poppi dressed as 20's flappers, the pair of Great Pyrenees were the Coke polar bears, Marla & Kona were rodeo clowns, there was a Ragedy Ann & Andy, a unicorn, a Hello Kitty and a few other great costumes. The Great Pyrenees Coke Polar Bears won the costume contest by popular applause. Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of any of the dogs in costume except Roo & Wichita.
A few pictures of my SCUBA Dogs: 

Jeff and I were starving by dinner time. We fed Roo & Wichita and left them in the car to nap while we went inside for a dinner of roast chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, salad, and pumpkin cheesecake bars (Pumpkin Crack as Jane called them).

I knew how much Roo would enjoy Canine Camp and I knew I would thoroughly enjoy watching him work and learn. I wasn't sure how it would go for Wichita since we've only had him 7 weeks, he's still pretty new to us. We're still learning and figuring out his likes, dislikes, and abilities. Wichita seriously impressed us! He was a champ at lure; he seemed to pick up and enjoy canicross hiking; he loved nosework; and he did shockingly well at air scenting and agility in the kidnapping mystery.

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