Friday, September 30, 2011

More Challenges

The first run of the day was excellent, and the second was really challenging.  Let's start at the beginning with Selene's first time in lead.  On a different forum Rose Rosenberg asked if I had yet run Selene in lead.  I had not, as she is a very young dog and I have only run her a few times, and didn't want to put her under a lot of pressure.  She's been running very well and showing a lot of enthusiasm, though.  Last night she settled in very quickly as a house dog, and at some point through the evening I looked at her and though "why not?"  I figured if she was showing signs of being overly stressed I could just have her switch places with another dog to get her back into her comfort zone.

I chose the team pretty carefully.  I decided I'd run her beside Just, as he's a steady, experienced dog who gets along well with his running mates.  I put Beau and Capella in wheel.  Beau is Selene's VBFF, so having him close would probably have a calming effect, and Capella is a competent leader who also gets along well with all the other dogs.  I put the two exuberant brothers Orion and Midnight in wheel.

Selene started out very well, but proved to be too distracted to be ready for the lead position.  I think that is just a matter of maturity.  Selene is part Hedlund Gray Husky and part Great Pyrenese (though I don't see much Pyr in her), both of which are reputed to be slow maturing.  She didn't act or look particularly stressed during the run, but she was rubber-necking a lot rather than focusing on the job.  I think a few more months running in swing or team will help her settle down nicely, and I plan to give her another leader trial later in the winter.

Here is the training journal entry for that first run, and complete vido coverage as well.  The video of the complete run is about 9 minutes long.

Date, Day, &c:
Friday, Sept 30.  10:00 AM
Mileage & Speed (M = Measured , ~ = Approximate): 
1.5 miles M, Max speed 12.2 MPH M, Average speed 8.5 MPH M
Route, Trail & Terrain Conditions: 
Boyce - Stricker drive loop.  Dirt with a few puddles.
Overcast, 38 degrees F
Just & Selene
Beau & Capella
Orion & Midnight
As Selene has been running very well, and behaving wonderfully also, I decided to give her a trial in lead beside Just.  I wanted Beau and Capella behind her as they are all buddies to Selene.  Orion and Midnight get on well with her, but not so nicely as the others.

Hook up went well today, and on launch Selene was well focused and forward oriented.  She and Just hit the first two "gee" cues very nicely.  As the team settled down into the task of just running I noticed that Selene was looking back at her team mates pretty frequently.  She didn't appear to be stressed by them, but more like they were distracting her.  When I spoke her name she looked ahead again, but could only maintain the focus for a minute or two before looking back some more. 

She focused well when responding to cues and as we were running through (in her case - around) the puddles, but any time she didn't need to pay attention to her footing she was rubber necking.  It was especially noteworthy as we ran past Ted's yard.   It took her quite a while to resume forward forus, and she really didn't pay attention until we took the haw onto the cross-over trail. 

She has potential as a leader, but I think she needs to mature some more before I work her up front very often. 

The rest of the team behaved and performed very nicely

The second run of the day was more challenging.  Amazing Grace decided to be more than just a bit 'snarky' with Nels.  In fact, she was down-right ugly with the big boy.  It didn't quite qualify as a fight (no blood was involved), but she had him cowed three different times in the first 100 yards or so of the run before I cut her loose from swing and moved her beside Seamus in wheel.  She didn't mess with Seamus at all, which shows she does have a working brain in that cranium after all.

Rose and Cassie were in lead.  Cassie is just starting her career as a leader and she's plenty willing, but doesn't yet know her cues.  Apparently Rose doesn't understand "haw" (left) as well as I thought she did, either.  This tells me that it's time to spend some serious time with my leaders in training on the Sacco cart where I have more control over the dogs' direction and can better train 'gee' and 'haw'.

Date, Day, &c:
Friday, Sept 30.
Mileage & Speed (M = Measured , ~ = Approximate): 
~3 miles , M max speed14 MPH, M average speed 7.4 MPH Measured.
Route, Trail & Terrain Conditions: 
Twice around Boyce - Striker drive loop
Overcast, ~40 degrees.  Dirt with some puddles.
Rose & Cassie
Nels & Grace (at start)
Seamus & Denali (at start)

Position switch as described below to;
Rose & Cassie
Denali & Nels
Semuas & Grace

Hook up went smoothly, but the launch was rough.  We were barely out the gate when I had to stop and break up a squabble between Grace and Nels.  We barely got started after that before the pair was tussling again.  Nels was being severely cowed, and when it happened a third time barely into the power-line segment I swapped Grace and Denali so Nels could have some peace and Grace next to a dog who won't tolerate her snarky crap. 

The rest of the first lap went well, and I decided a second lap would be in order.  When I gave the leaders the "haw" cue to the power-line for a second go around Rose seemed totally clueless.  I had to get off the machine and move the leaders into the turn several times.  Each time I'd get them lined out Rose would move back to the driveway before I could get on the machine and get them moving.  I would have spent all day working on that if necessary, but Ted came to the rescue and helped get them through the turn.

On the way back I decided to take the 'haw' down the power-line rather than going past to the cut-over trail, and Rose again couldn't seem to catch on to what I was trying.  Ted again came to the rescue and we got them around the corner.  Rose obviously needs more work to help her learn her left from her right.

There were no other issues noted during this run.

I need to make a run into town for some supplies, and I'm thinking that little Ms. Amazing Grace needs to go in with me, to be fitted with a greyhound muzzle.  She should be able to breath, pant and even drink water with one, so should be able to do at least short runs in a muzzle.  That will at least prevent her from practicing her habits of grabbing the lines and snarking at her neighbors.  I wish I could identify a trigger for that behavior - she does it with some dogs but not with others and I haven't really been able to identify a pattern.

Meanwhile, I need to pick up some necklines and I could stand to do a little bit of grocery shopping for some things I forgot on my way home.  Tomorrow might be a good day for running those errands.  I'm thinking that Sunday morning might be a good time to do some Sacco runs for these leaders in training and maybe I can recruit someone to give me a hand with some of that, since some of my dogs have never worked out with the cart before.

Meanwhile, Allen Moore of SP Kennel fame has been working on a project here at the house.  I'm guessing it will probably be finished tomorrow, so I'll have fun news and photos to share.

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