a time to heel

A little play on words … last post was “a time to heal” and dealt with the divorce of my parents.  This post is about obed and rally heeling, dog training, getting centered, and getting on with things.

I love to swim. Many years ago (half a lifetime away) I swam 75 minutes a day. I swam 45+ laps, over a mile, every morning. Not only was it great for cardiovascular health, not only did it burn a bunch of calories, but my mind was able to work through problems and issues as my body swam, and swam, and swam.

In recent years I’ve switched to water aerobics but classes are too loud and engaging to really get a lot of thinking accomplished. In the past couple of months I’m adding lap swimming before my aerobics class, and I’m enjoying it so much that I wake up earlier and earlier, anxious to add more laps each week.

I began with 3-4 laps, built to 6-9 laps, then tried to increase by 3 each week. I do my laps in sets of 3 so it’s easier to track. First lap in a set is breast stroke, second lap is back crawl, third lap is side stroke.  I hit all the major muscle groups with these three, without having to spend a lot of time with my face in the water.

Four days ago, on Monday 3/16, I swam 30 laps in 45 minutes, for the first time in years! And yesterday, on Wednesday 3/18, the water was cooler and I easily swam 33 laps in 47 minutes. Water temperature has a great deal to do with how far you can swim, by the way, and 83-84 degrees seems to be my optimal temp. Anything over 84 is too warm and I can’t cool off as I swim.

Contrary to water aerobics PR, you actually DO sweat in a pool, if you work hard enough. If the water is too warm I can’t cool my head, I slow down and tire quickly. So a little cool is great.

Of course, all the ladies arriving for water aerobics complain “yikes! this is too cold!” but who wants to work out in bath water?

My goal, over the summer, is to get back to the mile swim, at least 3 times a week. My aerobics class moves 30 minutes later after Memorial Day, so that 30 minutes can be spent getting to my goal of 45 laps.

For summer 2009 we’re adding mini workshops during the 2-hour lunch break offered at agility camps. While Bud relaxes in the house I’ll be teaching:  1) puppy agility,  2) obed for agility,  3) intro to rally,  4) intro to tracking,  5) intro to 2-Min. dog trainer,  6) building speed and motivation,  7) building distance skills, etc.

Each workshop will cost $5 per dog and the cash will go toward beautification efforts. I’ll be providing campers with a registration form on the first day and they’ll “vote” for their favorite 3 workshops. The most popular 3 will be scheduled for the first 3 days of camp.

We’ll also be adding some private lessons, either before camp starts at 9am or after dinner is over at 8pm. With travel expenses to consider, many campers want to maximize their time at camp and we want to offer an action-packed adventure for them.

For campers wanting to relax and get away from all that adrenaline and competition, of course, there’s plenty of down time. And your bunkhouse mates are off doing mini-workshops, so you can get in a nice hike or nap.

My plan for camp weeks, therefore, is to get to the pool (a 20 minute drive, in Marietta) by 8:45 a.m., swim until class starts at 10:00 a.m., finish class at 11:00 a.m., shower and dress, home by noon, teach mini-workshops until 1:00 p.m., possible private lessons until 2:00 p.m., then camp starts and I get started with dinner. After dinner more privates possible, either campers or our local students, and fun runs on Thursday nights.

In between all that I want to resume training Dash, Red, Blue and Hazard (all our youngsters) for heeling.  Dash has several rally titles, and his CD, so he’s had a ton of heeling training.  Red’s had a good bit of heeling training as well but her mental state rarely allows her to concentrate on me in the presence of other people or dogs — she needs a ton of work and I’ll heel with her while campers are doing agility in the building.

Blue is the most focused heeler I have and can generally block any distraction in favor of the clicker and cheese she knows comes with heeling. Hazard has had NO heeling training. And she’s so darned short (~10 inches) I’m going to try the wooden-spoon-dipped-in-peanut-butter with her.

Every afternoon and evening I’ll be making the rounds of my new flowerbeds and shrub plantings, watering and feeding, making sure they get a good start in life. I’m not big on annuals (too resource-greedy, IMO) but will probably have some baskets to maintain here at the house and perhaps at the cottages. Baskets take lots of care and can dry out very quickly — beyond redemption — in just a couple of days.

As spring and summer come it will be interesting to see if I can maintain this schedule or if it exhausts me. Swimming generally invigorates, but it also puts a good deal of stress on my bad knee, so pain meds are a necessary evil.

Last year my knee imobilized me a bit, so I’m eager to be more active and am more motivated to get on with life.

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