Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bender the Tracker...

Trackwest had an open day today, and I took Bender along (with a bit of encouragement from Desma) to see how he would go. As it was just me, I laid the scent trails, and Desma and the other instructor handled Bender. Bender did awesome! He was fired up and he followed the scent well. It is so easy to boost his energy up that there really wasn't anything special I did. I just took his tyre and rope and played tug o war with him at the end.

We put the dogs away and had morning tea together. The vibe of the club is really lovely. There isn't any competition between members - people are just in it to learn how to read their dogs really. All of the dogs can track. Bender has a great attitude for it. At morning tea our instructor said that there were a couple of dogs in her group that could get their TD title in one season if we were committed to it. Bender was one of them.

Desma was really impressed with how he went, and kept comparing him to her dog Blake. Blake is a bully breed like Bender so they have some shared genetic heritage and a similar mindset. High energy, single minded and stubborn. I asked what Blake was like when he was younger - just like Bender, hyper. And when asked to do something, so enthusiastic. Sometimes too enthusiastic, but for Tracking - it sounds like you can't possibly be too enthusiastic!

One hurdle though is going to be teaching Bender to pick up the scent articles. He has been taught for 5 years he's not allowed to pick up socks and other random bits of clothing, and now I have to teach him it's OK again. May not be easy with Bender considering how he consolidates what he has learned into very solid habits.

When I took Bender out I was very impressed with Barbie and how she handled herself. She did not howl. She merely gave me a pleading look as I left out of the front door. I think it's good that the dogs are used to doing things separately now. They have just accepted that is the way things are.

The cats always get left behind, so the dogs should be used to it too by now. When I got home, Barbie sang a little more than usual and gave Bender the third degree. Bender was pretty tired after doing 4 simple tracks to find me.

I took Barbie out to the river where we met two other greyhounds as soon as we got out of the car. One was a 12 year old lady, blue and white. She was off leash and came trotting over to us straight away. The guy had a black one on a leash - he was the foster so wasn't allowed off leash yet. He didn't have either of them muzzled though. I only muzzle Barbie when I let her off leash at Riverside Gardens so they got to meet each other without dealing with the face cage.

Barbie and the old lady said hello and then Barbie started waddling a bit - she needed to go to the toilet but didn't want to do it with these two greyhounds and their owner so close by, so I took her for a walk on the grass so she could go.

We went down to the water after that, and Barbie sat in it to cool down. I put the muzzle on and took her leash off and she laid down in the water. She did run a little but her recall was immediate and fast. She didn't stray very far away. Then she found a young mastiff x girl to play with. They chased each other around a bit, and even the 12 year old greyhound joined in. The mastiff x had never met a dog faster than her before but she loved it. The chasing ended after their third go at it when they collided a bit too heavily for the mastiff's liking. She was a young 18 month old pup so a little concerned about the impact. They both came back to where we were standing and we had a good yarn about greyhounds and dogs in general.

Her recall was so good today that I called her off chasing another dog! I think she is ready to give agility another go soon too.

I am so committed to my dogs! I can't help it though, I love them so. If I didn't, I don't think I would have them.

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