Windy Sage Miss Yellowstone, aka Parkr, and Cedarwoods Miss Boise, aka Benelli. were born less than a week apart in May of 2018. Parkr is out of my female, Cedarwoods Miss Montana. aka Hadli, and Bob Farris’ male Czar. She is my personal dog. Benelli is out Cedarwoods First Offense and Foothills Boise Brown. She is the first dog owned by Windy Sage that is housed elsewhere.
Training season began inauspiciously with a trip to Anita reservoir. The spring had been unusually cool. In the middle of March we had our last day of below zero temperature. The water around Billings stayed frozen until the middle of April. We didn’t load the to dogs up for that trip to Anita until the first week of May. I had both females entered into an NA test in June. The trip to Anita reservoir was a disaster. The water was still very cold and neither of the dogs would enter on th’070,,/77=0, $ bereir own.
The drive home was tense. How was I going to get the dogs ready? When would the water warm up?
For the next week I worked to get trips to Laurel Pond between rain storms. I decided to take both dogs back to puppy water introductions. I walked the dogs to the waters edge, picked them up and waded to dog swimming depth. Once there I put the dog into the water and let it swim to shore. I also mixed in a fair amount of bumper retrieval work in the yard. After about a week I decided to try to entice the dogs into the water with a bumper.
I got of work, drove home and loaded up dogs. When we arrived at Laurel Pond I first took Parkr to the water. As we walked to the spot where I swim dogs, I pitched a bumper in front of her a few times, which she retrieved. When we got to the water I waded in with Parkr on a check cord. When she got to belly depth I bent down and splashed water on her belly.
Bob Farris once taught me that dogs, like people are prone to pause while entering water when the water touches their belly. Having the belly wet prior to that point helps to lessen the shock and make the decision to go seem less momentous.
Exactly as Bob had explained Parkr walked into the deeper water unfazed. I pitched the bumper into swimming depth and said ‘Parkr’ loudly. She swam out for the retrieve. I caught her up before she exited the water via the check cord and grabbed the bumper from her mouth. I teased her with the bumper before throwing it again into swimming depth water. I again said ‘Parkr’ just before the bumper hit the water. Parker swam out and retrieved that bumper. I repeated the process a few times more, never letting Parkr exit the pond.
Benelli was a different story. On the walk to the swimming spot I tossed bumpers in front of Benelli, just as I done with Parkr. Benelli nosed the first bumper but then moved on. I picked up the bumper and tried another toss. She was more interested in the world than the bumper. When we got to the spot I repeated the process that I first did with Parkr. Benelli danced a bit, but eventually lunged. In the deeper water Benelli dropped her hind legs in an attempt to find the bottom and slapped the water with her front legs. She slapped her way to the bumper. I waded out behind her and when she turned I caught her up by her collar and took the bumper. I turned her back towards the center of Laurel Pond and threw the bumper 3 yards in front of her. She swam out to get it. Still slapping at the water but evening out a bit. Benelli did four or five more retrieves in this fashion. By the end of the session she was swimming better.
I repeated this process with each dog twice over the next two days.