I saw a funny post the other day about how we talk to our dog friends vs. our non-dog friends.
My answer to the question ” what have you been up to?” varies based on the audience.
For my non-dog friends, I’ll say I’ve gone on a couple of weekend get-aways to visit friends. I’ve also been going to the beach a lot, trying to get back into a workout routine and researching organizations to start volunteering with in the fall. I try to sound like a normal person that isn’t doing “weird” stuff.
For my dog friends, depending on what I know of their dog activities, I will be more forth coming with my answers i.e. I’ve been training Maisie to be a Therapy Dog and have found an organization that I’m pretty excited about. I’ve gone through my own training with them and I’ll be tagging along this week to observe their program in action. Hopefully we will pass their dog team test so that we can volunteer with them in the fall. We’ve been going on a lot of training walks, in and out of stores and mixing up our destination to expose her to lots of different situations and people.For dog enthusiasts, I might elaborate a little more. Winn and I have been doing all kinds of advanced training over the last several months and have entered several different types of trials and have earned five titles. Right now we are focusing on Water Rescue training and are having a blast!
I’ve been around water my entire life and for about 10 years I worked at my local YMCA teaching 3-5 year olds pool safety and how to swim. I loved working with that age and I really felt like I was teaching them something that could save their lives. Now I’m exploring a different form of water safety by working with Winn and her natural instincts. It’s just for fun, she’s not going to be a lifeguard or a search and rescue dog, but I love swimming with her and having a reason to be in the water again.I’ve taken a couple of trips with her to learn the skills needed to enter and pass the junior level Newfoundland Water Dog (WD) test and have been working on a few of the skills included in the senior level Water Rescue Dog (WRD) test. (Last year I volunteered to help at the water tests in my area and wrote about those skills here and here.) She loves the water and has amazing instincts. We work really well together but being in the water is exhausting and I’m reminded that even though she’s a big dog, she’s still young and she tires easily. I’m also getting used to being in the water again so we are both working on building our stamina in the water and knowing when to call it quits.This week, I’ve been filling out entry forms for water tests put on by different regional Newfoundland clubs. Two are close by, about an hour’s drive and two are further away and would require a hotel stay. I hope to get into at least two, maybe three. My friend who has been doing this a long time and teaches water skills clinics would like me to go to Canada with her so Winn could also try for her Canadian Water Rescue Dog title. I think this year, we will just focus on her American title and consider that in the future. I’ll be thrilled if we get the title this summer, but I’m loving the bond we’ve formed and the fun we have learning new skills. I have high hopes for us as a working team and there are so many possibilities for us to explore!
I was really sad to read that this would be the final weekly photo challenge. I still remember the first time I participated, I was so nervous about putting something out there! What I discovered was a supportive network filled with people who love to capture images. We all interpret the theme in our own way and there are no wrong answers. The photo challenge has exposed me to people from all over the world and their experiences and lives. I’ll miss it, but I’m so thankful for the opportunity to participate. I gained the confidence I needed to keep posting and build my blog to what it is today.
Thursday morning we woke up to pouring rain and a flooded yard. While the dogs like nothing better than wading through the standing mud puddles, I’m not a big fan when it’s time for them to come inside.
Instead of letting them frolic and play in the yard, I hurried them into the car and we set out for one of our favorite places, a pool set up just for dogs!
We all still got wet (even though I didn’t get in, it’s impossible to stay dry when they shake off), but at least they weren’t muddy as they worked off their excitement in the clean water!
We are really looking forward to beach weather, but until then, this pool is pretty darn good!
We started with a walk in the woods on Thanksgiving morning. Maisie and Annie immediately knew where we were, but Winn was beside herself with excitement. She and I walk a lot and we have spent countless hours in training classes. She has always walked perfectly on leash but suddenly she was pulling me harder than any dog has ever pulled me. She had never done this before and I was amazed by her strength!
Stupidly, I had left my treat bag sitting on the kitchen counter so I had to resort to verbal commands and redirection to get her under control. It took a while, too long really, and my hand was raw from the leash but eventually we reached an agreement and we were able to walk along the path and enjoy a beautiful day. We were stopped numerous times by people who wanted to meet the girls. Three Newfoundlands is a bit of a spectacle but I’m alway happy to answer questions about my favorite breed and I was so impressed with Winn as she sat by my side while we talked.
Our next adventure took place at a doggie pool. We frequently go to the dog beach in town but it is very shallow so they don’t end up doing a lot of swimming. Winn has been swimming a couple of times, but typically they all just romp and play in the shallow water while chasing toys and each other.
After taking some time to figure out the ramp to enter and exit the water, Winn enthusiastically took off. She loved it! She’s a strong swimmer and her form was perfect. I was surprised that Maisie was the one who was nervous and wasn’t as confident in the water. Hopefully next time she will enjoy it more.
Notice how Winn is perfectly horizontal using her front and back legs and her tail to guide her around and change direction. She’s a natural!
Our final excursion was to a Christmas party for our local Newfoundland Club. I debated taking all three, Annie gets nervous in new situations and with strangers and sometimes Winn picks up on Annie’s nervousness and she gets nervous too.
They all had so much fun! We stayed toward the back of the room so that they could all get comfortable and Maisie and Winn kept creeping closer to the front so that they could see the other dogs and meet their owners. Annie plopped down next to me, joined the chorus of barkers and stopped to meet and greet some people on our way out. What a great way to kick off the holiday season!