Posts Tagged ‘Golden Retriever’

My very first blog post was called Two Dog Travel.  This was the story about how the Labrador broke out of her soft crate while visiting family.

I should have read it before we went home for Christmas.  While it’d been more than three years, and not one incident in all that time once we got back to my parents guess who decided to break out of her soft crate again?

Once again we traveled with two dogs.  This time the 55lb Labrador and the 65lb Golden Retriever.  We now have a Subaru Forester all decked out for the dogs, making the trip even more comfortable for everyone.

On Christmas Eve we decided to go shopping, so the dogs were placed into their soft crates, and my Father who elected not to go with us was given strict instructions not to let them out.

Out we went, shopping for a few hours only to come home to the Labrador greeting us at the front door, tail all a-wag, and evidence of an entire eaten loaf of bread on the floor.  All that was found was the wrapper.

“Dad!” I yelled, “I told you not to let them out!”

The Labrador followed me through the house, tail wagging as I went to find my Father, but there was no answer to my rather loud and exasperated exclamation.

Turning the corner I spotted him.  Asleep in bed!  How dare he?  He let out one dog and then didn’t bother to watch her?  “Dad!” I cried out, feeling fully justified in waking him up for a scolding.

Only… “I didn’t let them out,” was his sleepy, confused reply which sent me flying down the stairs to spy a ripped open soft crate.  This time she didn’t bother with the zipper, but ripped her way right through it, while the Golden watched (good boy for not following your sister’s example!).  And then she figure out how to open the sliding door to my old bedroom and probably happily trotted up the stairs to find the loaf of bread so easy to reach on the counter.

Lesson learned.  Metal crate purchased and left at my parents house!

And then I sheepishly apologized to my father, several times.



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The Golden is now a Canine Good Citizen! He has his very first title! And I’m a bit torn.

Three years ago when the Labrador came into my life, the CGC was the only goal I had. I knew nothing of obedience, rally or agility. We went to training because the Labrador was going to be a big dog (Ha!) and she had to behave. It took us five tries to earn the CGC. Each and every time, my evaluator looked at me and said something along the lines of “Will you relax?” Each time I was so nervous that the Labrador didn’t pass due to reacting to my nerves. When we finally passed I was so excited!

And then I heard all the depreciating comments about the CGC when it became a title. Sometimes list serves are not your friend. “The AKC will do anything for money.” “The CGC is a joke.” They talked about it not being a real test, and that anyone could pass.

The consensus seemed to be a CGC was nothing to be proud of. And then another person on that list spoke out, reminding them how earlier they were declaring Obedience and Rally a dying sport because they couldn’t attract new people. And with attitudes like this, she suggested, no wonder! She was proud of her CGC, and worked hard for it and it lead her into those other sports. I wrote to her privately and thanked her for her words.

Now, the reason I am torn is I think I understand just a little more what some of those other people were seeing. Had the evaluator who passed the Labrador been there the other night, the Golden may not have passed. This evaluator was more lenient. She allowed retries. While one retry is allowed, she allowed people several. Technically, with a retry he would have passed, but it doesn’t feel the same.

Even so, I am proud of the Golden. Proud of the work we have done. I’ve enjoyed our time training, and the games we’ve played, and in the end that is what matters. And I do still love the fact he gets CGC added to his name!

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The AKC Rally National Championship was overwhelming! It was a lot of fun, but wow what an environment. Our first run I lost the Labrador. She got distracted, left my side and when she didn’t immediately return, we were excused. I don’t blame the judge, they had a lot of dogs to go through! Outside the ring I had perfect attention. I get inside, I get nervous and well, then we have an issue. I was so nervous my mouth even wet dry.

Our second run would have giving us a qualifying leg at a regular trial, so I’m very proud of her for that. Our very last sign though was a halt-pivot-halt. We stopped, she sat. We pivoted. And then she stood there. I asked her to sit. She didn’t. I asked again. And again. I realized I was begging, took a breathe, and tried again in a calmer voice. I almost reached down to tap her on the head, but instead, decided to call it. She’d stayed with me through the course, and now it was time to eat the points. We moved out, did our sit/stay and left with what would have been a qualifying score even with eating 10 points for the sign.

So, I’ve learned I’ve got to get a handle on my nerves. I’ve known that, and thought I was doing better, but in that environment it all flared back up! But we still got our nice participating certificate! Dog in need of a better handler!

We went from Rally to Agility, returning to Agility classes in March. The Labrador has repeated Intermediate, and the Golden has now down Foundations, and Beginner. In April we trialed. On Saturday we attempted Jumpers, Regular 1 and Regular 2. The good things about those runs is the Labrador stayed with me. She didn’t visit ring crew, or get distracted, she ran with me, just not necessarily over the obstacles. Actually our Jumpers run went very well, we were just over time by .2 seconds! So, though we didn’t Q I was pleased with her runs. There were vast improvements from our last agility trial to be proud of. Of course, Saturday when we had no Q’s is the day everyone came to watch including the Labrador’s breeder. Isn’t that just how it goes??

The next day we registered for Jumpers, Regular 1 and Tunnelers. This time I screwed up the Jumpers course by sending her shooting past a jump, then calling her back and making the mistake of calling her back over the jump. You can clearly hear the crowd in the video trying to tell me not to do what I was doing! Ooops! Regular 1 we missed a discrimination, but for the first time the Labrador got her weaves in the ring!! I finished the course cheering her on with “You got you weaves!” Sometimes you have to set smaller goals. Tunnelers though, tunnelers was nothing but awesome! With seconds to spar we shot around that course, not missing a beat, and moving as the most awesome tunneler team in history! And with the completion of that crazy figure eight tunnelers course little Ms. Labrador earned her very first Agility title the TN-N!!

So now we are moving on and working on building up to 12 weaves. One more session and I think we’ll have it. The Golden is doing some private agility lessons, as well as starting his CGC class. Our sit to greet is terrible. He wants to hug everyone, and has a very bad trainer. The Labrador is also doing some private agility training, and we are starting another Advanced Obedience class. I’m not sure when we’ll get back into the Obedience ring, or if it will be Open, or Graduate Novice, but either way we’ve lots to train. We’ll also be back in the agility ring this summer, and fall. I’m hoping to have the Golden’s CGC by the end of summer. After that, well I’ll need to make some more goals and plans.

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This week was Spring Break! That means things like Monday was 66 degrees and Wednesday didn’t get above 28. Today was 65, and by Monday they are calling for snow. Spring also means mud.wpid-isight-2014-03-15-21-161.png

Would you believe that’s the Golden? He really, really enjoyed his mud bath….. His water bath after….not so much:


See? He’s NOT amused!

With the RNC coming up I took this week off to train. And we trained just about every day. Mostly outside. Looking back on the week I have a few ideas for next time. First, I think I need to spend as much time thinking about my training as actual training. I need a better plan. I need to consider how we’re doing and what we need to work on. A list would be helpful. In relationship to that, I need to be keeping better notes. In the beginning I was posting here every week, and I was keeping notes at the end of every day. I’ve started to slack off. I’ve waited several days and then tried to make notes on how training went, or events that happened and find that my memory just isn’t that good any more!

All that said, it’s been a fun week. We trained with friends. The Labrador and I worked on heeling around distractions, including toys and food bowls with the expectation that there will be a food bowl at the National. We’ve worked on the broad jump. We’ve worked our ring entrance, and handing off the leash to the stewart without the Labrador going over to say hi. We’ve worked on retrieving bumpers for fun. We’ve even played some agility.

The Golden is working on sit to greet, stand for exam, and heeling. He finished his Foundation Skills for Agility by winning the “Get Out” competition! (Upholding the family honor as the Labrador did the same thing when she took the class.) He’s started jumping, and rocks his tunnels! We’re working crosses, and I’m getting better with my footwork on front crosses, hoping that will translate over to running the Labrador as well, though she didn’t often give me chances to do front crosses! She’s a rear cross type of runner (in other words, mom’s just too damn slow to keep up!). We’ve started working on 2 on 2 off contacts, and these are things I need to put on that list I mentioned above. A list to keep with me to remind me when I’m out at the park that these are the things to work on!

The RNC is coming fast. And I have trail this coming weekend — a good chance to try out some of the things I plan to do at the RNC. So goals this week are to keep training. To work on focus, and attention. I need to read the rules at least one more time and study the signs. We need to practice our downs while heeling, and stands while heeling. We will keep working on our fronts, and of course, keep working on our heeling!

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We have great plans for this year! But for right now — here are pictures of the kids!


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It’s never intentional, but the holidays always mess with my training schedule. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas my job gets more hectic, and then of course there is normal holiday hustle and bustle. This year that included a week away from the pups over Thanksgiving. Christmas we traveled for a few days and took the Golden with us. It was his longest car ride ever. He was fantastic! The eight hour drive didn’t phase him at all. Some fetch outside when we arrived helped burn off some energy, and then he settled in nicely to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

It’s taken several years, but I’ve finally gotten my parents trained to ask me before they give him treats. Mom asked before she buys treats, and they both check before feeding him other things. I allowed carrots and green beans, but told them no to the potatoes and bread (mostly because they’d already stuffed him full of carrots and green beans!) I also was pleased they asked before letting him lick plates.

We did very little training while visiting, but did go to the local General Store which allows dogs and got him lots of loving. He was great in my parents house and didn’t mess with his first Christmas Tree. He sat at Grandma’s feet as she prepared dinner, and didn’t beg or try to steal any of that delicious ham. He sat under our table as we ate, though he’d already figured out who was most likely to be swayed by puppy dog eyes.


The real challenge though was the car ride home. What is normally a seven hour drive ended up an eleven hour drive as we sat on the highway for over three hours, and then added an hour with the detour we had to take since an accident had closed the west bound lanes. He was a champ! He handled the delay far better than his humans. Oh he looked up as the firetruck blared by, and checked out the five ambulances that screamed past, but he didn’t bark, or whine, or pace, or move out of his seat. He definitely is a Very Good Dog!

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Family Photo!


This week there has been a lot of training. And yet it still never feels like enough! Before the Golden was born, the Breeder had a Puppy Shower. It was a lot of fun, and there were gifts for the attendees as well. One of those gifts was a little journal/notebook. This book has an entry for every day of the Golden’s life since he came to live with me. It’s what I refer to before doing a blog post to refresh my mind of everything we’ve done during the week. I noticed tonight as I was reviewing it that I’m running out of pages. I’ll need to buy a new journal soon. My little boy is growing up!

This week we’ve added a lot of things to our training list. I really need to make a list of all things we’re working on — mostly so I don’t forget to train something! We’ve started working on switches, and around (sending him around an object), as well as holding the dowel rod while moving (which really did not go well tonight!). I’d forgotten what a distraction leaves in the wind are. The Golden is happily reminding me. We are still working sits, and downs and stands, also finding stationary heel. Rear end awareness is going well, and “face me” on the stool was awesome tonight. Usually I move only one direction at a time. I’ll work clockwise for a bit, then break, and come back and work counter clockwise, but tonight he went too far one direction and adjusted himself, moving back the other way, so I built on that taking steps one way, and then the other. He was fantastic.

We traveled to a new location this week for a new class. We are taking a Games and Tricks class, which is a lot of fun. Most of the Labrador’s classes were at this location, but it was the first time there for the puppy. I was very pleased with his focus and concentration and willingness to tug! That’s another thing we’ve been working on tugging and playing in different places.

And yes this does mean I’m currently doing classes four days a week. Tuesday we have Performance Puppy with the Golden, Wednesday is Novice and Open with the Labrador, Thursday is now Games and Tricks with both the Labrador and Golden, and Sunday is Weave Poles and Agility. And we are already starting to work out what we want to be doing in January. Goals for this coming year are the Golden’s Rally Debut. Perhaps this will be at the Golden Retriever National, since it is close to where I live this year (and I’ve been told by the breeder I must go!). For the Labrador I think we’re going to work on training Open (and Utility), but compete in Rally Excellent. I don’t think we’ll have things trained and ready to start in Open this year (but maybe we’ll surprise ourselves!). And of course we’ll compete in agility. I already have plans for March and April (though I need to remember to check the March dates and make sure they don’t conflict with the Rally National).

Oh! One more thing to mention in what’s turning out to be a very rambling post. Tomorrow is the Golden’s first appointment for the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, which is “a groundbreaking effort to learn how to prevent cancer and other diseases. It is the largest and longest observational study ever undertaken to improve the health of dogs.” I am excited to participate.

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