Blue’s back cross, standard jump

Here’s the final update on Blue’s back cross training on a non-wing, standard jump.

Today I’m adding wings to the jump and will work with those for 2 days. We’re going to move on to the tire next week and repeat all the jump training, including obstacle focus and handler focus exercises, on both the standard tire and the teacup lollipop tire.

To keep a record of my progress on the “Foundation Sport Package” for the 2-Minute Dog Trainer brochures, here’s a list of the 8 brochures:

1. Come to front (complete) … Blue’s first skill in our home!

2. Stay in sit or down (complete) … for walk away, for walk around, for obed and agility

3. Stay in stand (complete) … the most confusing for Blue, probably because she’s 13″ tall and I can’t get down there

4. Standard and wing “jump” (complete) … includes obstacle focus and handler focus exercises

5. Tire “jump”

6. Weavepole entries

7. Unambiguous contacts

8. Heel position

Blue has actually done all the work associated with these 2-Minute trainers but I’m going to train through them again as I address each skill in the package. I’m certain she needs remedial work with the stand/stay, and re-visiting the weavepole entries will be good practice for her. Our contact trainer is out on loan so I may play some with the basement stairs instead.

Last evening, with Blue’s dinner, I tested her skills on the single jump.  With dog-on-right I had her do “jump, post turn to the left, come to my right hand,” then circle around to face the jump again with dog-on-right “jump, back cross turn to the right, come to my left hand.” She nailed both jumps and was being very watchful.

Then, with dog-on-left I had her do “jump, post turn to the right, come to my left hand,” then circle around to face the jump again with dog-on-left “jump, back cross turn to the left, come to my right hand.”  Again, nailed both of them. So I fed her entire dinner for having done the 4 jumps in a thoughtful, watchful manner.

The whole event probably took less than a minute. Again, I’m amazed at the cleverness of this dog, but also am convinced that her learning was facilitated by the 2-Minute, highly-motivated, process. At no time along this journey have I drilled her on jumping, on turns, on any skill.

I’m off to the shelter this afternoon, if I can get out of our driveway. We’ve had a week of snow, followed by sleet and rain which froze, followed by snow, followed by more rain which froze. Our vehicles were treacherous to clean off yesterday afternoon, with huge sheets of ice breaking away and sliding down the side towards me.

And I’m having to be ultra-careful where I step as I’ve hyper-extended my bad knee twice in 2 days. It seems a little sore, stiff, and tight, but I’m cautiously optimistic that it will continue to improve.

In the meantime the weather and my infirmity have convinced me that this is not the place I’ll grow old and die, especially if Bud goes first and leaves me alone in my old-age. Back when I was a kid, and immortal, I used to say, “I’ll never go into a nursing home — I want to die at home, with the first person who finds me being the mail carrier who can’t stuff any more mail into the box.”

Yeah, well, the view of that situation is a bit different from this side of 50. A week of being trapped in the house with nothing to entertain us but work and television has convinced me that I really AM a people person. The thought of being old and infirm and living 20 minutes from town on a GOOD weather day isn’t nearly as appealing as it used to be.

We had a student at Dogwood (where we were 15 minutes from 2 large towns) who used to say, “how can you stand living out here in the country, especially when Bud’s gone, all by yourself?” She’d say, “I would worry about falling and hurting myself, and having no way to get to help.”  Of course, I never worried about that because I wasn’t going to fall.

But now I’ve actually found myself, when Bud’s out of town and I’m here alone, limiting my travel about the 28-acre property. What if I were to go down to the pond and have an accident? It would take a day or two for someone (my mother or sister) to wonder where I was and why I never answered the phone. Then another day for them to come looking for me and find me at the pond.  I certainly wouldn’t go tromping through the woods. They’d never find me, that’s for sure. Maybe I’m just getting old …

At the shelter they’ve had 3 transports since I was last there. A bitch with a litter of puppies went to Toledo yesterday, 2 dogs went to Parkersburg this morning (for a trip to Hagerstown, probably), and a van load went to Pittsburgh this morning as well.

In my job as volunteer coordinator I’ve been contacted 2-3 times to arrange for back-up drivers for transport. These e-mails have pointed out a real weakness in our current system of logging volunteer information. I correspond primarily through e-mail and most of our volunteers never answer e-mail. And I’m not going to spend every waking minute of my life on the phone calling for assistance.

I’ve decided to create several “call sheets” for the staff and volunteer leaders at the shelter. Each call sheet will list the names and phone numbers of folks who have volunteered to help with their specific need. The rule will be, “call them once, if they accept the task they stay on the list, if they turn you down flat take them off the list, if they turn you down but tell you to keep them on the list give them one more opportunity.” Hopefully this will enable each of the leaders at the shelter to boil their lists down to a key 5-10 people they can call on to help them.

Having 150 volunteer forms to search through is just too overwhelming. And the excel database created by the last (hard-working) coordinator is a little awkward to use. So I’ll probably re-do the whole thing in FileMaker Pro and then be able to create the separate call sheets on 8-1/2 x 11 paper.

My dogs are patiently awaiting their breakfast, so I’m off to get dressed, feed dogs, and take off for the shelter.

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