Sunday, December 19, 2010

Still smiling!

Both Hokey and I are still smiling! I am still so in awe of his ability. What a dog! Of course, he doesn't get to brag too much here or Flash and Dani flatten him.

We have been lucky to share congratulations from so many wonderful friends. That makes our accomplishment even better. Best of all, we have heard from others with cancer challenged dogs who are heartened by our success. Of course, there are no guarantees and we have no idea how long Hokey's remission will last but I continue to do his supplements, special diet, etc and we will keep working.
We have quite a bit of snow so we are mostly working in the barn aisle, doing some utility obedience. I need to figure out a good way to work the ducks despite the snow. Haven't come up with that yet.

And we just ordered some custom bumper stickers - Canine Cancer Survivors Can Do! in bright green. Definitely one will go on my minivan :)
Deb E

Oh yeah, steak for THREE nights in a row!! Whoohee!! And other dogs got a piece each but *I* got lots of pieces.

I am back to work - learning utility which should be a snap for me since I am so brilliant but it may take a while to get Deb proofed. She seems to think I should hand her these white gloves when we both know the correct article indication is to lie down or sit by the glove. I love to run out and grab it, then shake it and bring it back to her and drop it. I mean, what more could you want?

And I keep warning those ducks that I plan to work their fluffy little butts off this winter. Deb and I will figure out a way to keep them in shape!
Yeah, life is good - just like those t shirts!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My version of our track - by Hokey

Whoa, yah! Deb didn't give ME a chance to post yesterday. I think you all need the real version of our track.

I was pysched - so psyched I was whining when Deb was putting the harness on me - bright neon green I might add and I look quite dashing in it! Plus festive for the season you know.

Forget the stupid sugar plums - I had visions of double cheeseburgers dancing through MY head! Deb had been stuffing green Xmas tree Peeps into her - guess she felt she might need a sugar high. She did tell me that I would get chicken RIGHT after the track but might have to wait until the drive home for my cheeseburger.

I was very glad to have that nice woman for my tracklayer. She has great scent :). Off we went, flying down the field, then up the hill. I am not at all sure why they felt the track should go under this creepy tree and right next to a big telephone pole on its side. That looked like the kind of place where my brother wolves might be hiding. Never fear though - Hokey's great nose could handle taking the turn a touch early.

I admit I had a lapse then - I saw a bright white thing and figured it might be an article, so we went off to check that off. No dice, nothing that easy! I put the old snoz back to work and lo and behold, we found a dark sock! Cool - one article out of the way. Of course Deb had no idea we, I mean I, had already handled one set of cross tracks. Ha, they couldn't fool me!

Now we trucked down a hill through some brush with nasty prickers - I really hate prickers! Blew through the other cross tracks too - do they think we are stupid? If they couldn't fool me the first time, why even try again?

What is this?! My track now went through this huge river! I am guessing a mile wide and probably about that deep. I don't mind baths or working in the rain (and it was raining) but putting my feet into water? UGH!

Still, double cheeseburger on my mind, so through the creek we went. Then I took us down this path in the woods. I find paths in woods to be hard to work, so I am glad we had practiced at the Westmo Town Park. Those cinder paths are tough!

And what should my competent nose find but a purple tie! Hmmm, guess we know why it became a tracking article - a bit bright for average the suit and tie crowd. By now I swear I could almost smell my cheeseburgers!

We went a looong way in the woods, then hit a field and I KNEW to turn left! Yes, back to the creek. This is where Deb almost blew it big time. All that work and now she hesitates to follow me down to the creek again?!!! This is the dog who HATES water, so if I say it goes there and *I* am willing to cross it again - what is HER problem?!!! She is even wearing our good luck shirt - the bright green one from Beauty of the Beasts that says Trust me.... I am the One with the Nose.

So I humor her - checking out the edge of the field thoroughly. Kind of interesting - different big mushrooms, including a bright orange one, some neat trash. Finally I am running out of options, so I insist we really need to cross the creek, finish this thing and let the judges move on to the next dog.

Deb follows me!!! Hallelujah!!! Across the creek we go and then there is ice. I really don't like walking across pure ice, so I kind of hop up onto the jump there. Got stuck with my line for a second but Deb's good old opposable thumbs helped us out there. I hopped back down to the path where it was mud now and WOW - WHAT IS THIS???!!! I snuffle, verify twice, turn to smile at Deb and sit - right there, even in the cold mud!

My glove - a sort of ratty small brown one but still, the glove of my tracklayer. Deb checks, she screams, everybody screams, I leap up and get mud on Deb, they all cry a bit and then, finally we head to the car for my chicken (cheeseburgers yet to come!)

Back at the car, Deb dried me thoroughly and stuffed me with rotisserie chicken. Good stuff - you can get it at most grocery stores cheaper than buying and cooking your own chicken - strip off the meat and save it for your dog. I could write a cookbook!

Anyway, I LOVE to be dried and rubbed with towels. Just feels good, you know? We had to wait a bit for my beautiful green and blue rosette but then we were on the road, heading for McD's for my double cheeseburger!!! And steak the last two nights too!

I am really rubbing this into Queezle's face. She thinks she is so hot being a top breed dog - well, that is nothing but looks. If I hadn't had a problem with a bit of equipment I could have been a breed CH too. But a CT is even better because *I* had to earn it!

Deb says no way we retire - she has promised me we will keep working. Doing some duck stuff - I am an awesome duck dog if I say so myself! - , maybe some utility obedience, more ASCA tracking and herding, yeah, lots to do, more cheeseburgers to earn!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Champion Tracker!

I am always humbled and honored to be the "dope on a rope" following my dogs on a tracking test. Hokey and I entered 13 TDX tests this fall. We got drawn in two and got in run in two others as an alternate. Oh, so close on a couple - including about a month ago in Virginia when two gun shots blew our almost perfect track.

I thought long and hard about not entering this last test in Virginia. After all, #13, the weather likely to be bad (on my end in upstate NY if not in Virginia) and admittedly, I was a bit discouraged. When we got in, I still waffled a bit. I would have to take my old car (yellow mini van with over 200,000 miles on it), had a bad cold, my good boots had a hole, etc. But off we went driving 400 miles down Route 81.

Sunday am was cold (temps in the mid 30s) and wet. It started off misty/drizzly for the TDs, but then started to actually rain when we went. Oatlands Plantation is a cool site with sweeping grass areas and plenty of three day event jumps (for horses) scattered about. The grass was manicured lawn though - literally cut closer than my lawn at home ever is! There were woods, a stream, some brushy areas.

Our draw items to determine our tracks were cute angel ornaments. We drew Track 2. Track one went off well but the BC got drawn down the cross tracks.

It was our turn. The wind and rain picked up but Hokey started right down the first leg. Then we turned left up a long, rolling hill. At the top, he indicated a turn to the right. The track actually went a touch further but he was hesitant to go between the low branches of an evergreen and a solid telephone pole log jump.

We almost blew it right then. Hokey spotted a white article (a piece of trash as it turns out) and did classic VST dog article search mode. Luckily when he realized it was not one of our articles, he worked his way back and came across one of our real articles! Yay - just two articles & hundreds of yards to go!

We went straight a bit and then turned right to go back down the hill. Hokey had now crossed over both sets of cross tracks with barely a nod. We went through a brushy/swampy/pricker area, then some more field and down a banking, over a creek into the woods. The creek was 6 to 8 feet wide in places and about a foot deep at its deepest.

On the far side of the creek, Hokey turned left onto a path through the woods. It was dirt and cinder, with a few old leaves around. The second article was partway down this leg. Good boy Hokey!!

We finally left the woods and came out into a nice field. Hokey immediately turned left to go back down to the creek. At the end of the line, he hesitated a touch. I honestly could not believe we would actually go over the creek again so I held steady. Poor Hokey then checked every possible permutation of the field edge and finally insisted we head down to the creek. Thankfully I did trust him - the words of Ed echoing around my head, "90% of the time, the first way the dog checks is the correct way".

I might add, this is a dog who hates water! On a 90 degree day at an agility trial he will not even go in the kiddie wading pools.

Hokey went right through the creek again and then onto a sheet of ice (which was over land, not water). We got the line caught on another jump right there but then he went straight to snuffle at a blob of mud. He snuffled, turned, smiled at me and sat! That is his stellar article indication and I ran up to see that the "blob" was a brown, wet, muddy glove, stuck in the mud!!

I screamed, he bounced around, the judges screamed, my track layer screamed and Hokey had (despite me almost blowing it!) earned his TDX which also gave him his CT or Champion Tracker title!

The title is a huge high of course, but best of all, is that Hokey is still alive and well, still loves doing things, training, traveling and competing. 14 months ago I was in terrible despair with a dog with a very guarded prognosis from an aggressive lymphoma. And from our despair came hope as he handled the chemo so well and now an amazing success!

The judges (Susan Ammerman and Judith Edwards) hustled off to the next track while my track layer (Sharon Kilrane) and I walked back up towards the start area where our cars were. I dried Hokey thoroughly and gave him a bunch of chicken.

Sadly, no other TDX dogs passed.

We had along drive home - made longer by stops for caffeine for me and double cheeseburgers for Hokey.

I am still in awe at my dog's ability. And our motto is "Canine Cancer Survivors Can Do"!!!