Mom! Quit your moping! Let’s go train!
Gael has fit back in admirably with the springers, who are a tight little family pack (and remember we’re all stuffed into two back rooms while my house is on the market). While some credit might go to the springers, I’d say most goes to Gael who, like my past Gordon, Vita, is showing remarkable ability to read doggie language and ease her way back into the pack. As Vita matured, she showed amazing abilities in reading other dogs, defusing aggressive dog behavior and making fearful dogs feel at ease. It also meant she was capable of subtle dominance moves that didn’t at all look like dominance, but in truth were, usually to claim a space or a person.
Gael has a ways to go to reach maturity, since setters don’t really mature until they’re 4 or 5. But I’m seeing clever little moves so far. She’s managed to transform to grown-up-dog-sleeping-out-of-her-crate status ever since she came back. She achieved this by quietly claiming the dog bed at about 8am that first night, and simply not moving until morning:
The next miracle happened this morning in the bedroom. I was working in the other room, and heard lots of bouncing and barking, which meant everyone was playing. When things got quiet, I peeked around the corner:
This photo might not look like anything unusual, but you need to know that Reardon is Lord of the Bed, and he can be a bit of a butthead with the other dogs on the bed without his say-so. This is the first time I’ve seen Gael share the bed with him. I’m certain that if he turned around to look at her, she would don her invisible Gordon cloak and pretend she simply wasn’t there. It’s these quiet little insinuations into the adult dog privileges of the household that I’m finding so fascinating right now. And Gordons seem to know how to do this better than any other breed. Other breeds bulldoze in or take the submission route. Gordons sidle in with a kind of intuitive subtlety unlike any other dogs….
I am once again guilty of posting dog updates on Facebook when they should be here! Bad, bad Facebook! I recently picked Gael back up from her trainer, and we spent a few hours watching her work before I took her home. I could tell Gael was glad to see me, but was also a bit confused between me and the trainer. That ceased after a few minutes, and by the end of her work, she ran to the van to go home.
Anyway, here are some shots of Gael working her birds. In this first shot, she has winded the bird and is moving into the scent cone:
As Gael gets closer, she freezes into a point:
Here’s Gael working a different bird. With this bird, I was able to move into the bush and flush it, without Gael moving. That’s a lot of progress for 2 months!
Here’s Gael on her third bird:
I had hoped to get a better shot of Gael pointing from her front, but the trainer was having me move in and flush the bird for her, which is what we’ll be doing in the spring hunt tests for Junior Hunter. I’m pleased with Gael’s work in this short time. Her style is intense yet classic setter with a level tailset. While many field trialers today prize the “12 o’clock” tail, I like the old-fashioned tail. Way to go, Gael!
Jes’ checking out how my new Nikon camera works. I typically upgrade my techno-toys about 10 years after everyone else, and my camera finally bit the dust a few weeks ago. I need something to photograph Gael next week in the field, but all of my savings are wrapped up in house move/sale/upgrading tasks. So I ran out to Costco and got a cheap Nikon Coolpix. Here’s one of Reardon on the move:
Not bad. And I had to get a shot of Kani, who has happily grown some winter coat:
I’m still not convinced this camera captures movement all that well, but fortunately Gael is a POINTING breed!:-)
Since December my focus has been on getting my house ready for sale, in hopes of down-sizing to a more manageable property and mortgage amount. Beyond that, my goal is to find a property with a shop/garage that I can use as a training building. Needless to say, this has turned my life and my dogs’ lives temporarily upside-down, with contractors and cleaners in and out of the house, and now real estate agents and open houses.
The dogs have handled the changes with good nature, but meanwhile life goes on. Kani’s recent blood test on 2/20 continues to show disturbing numbers. Here’s the breakdown of the worrisome numbers with comparisons to the last two tests. All of them are above the normal range:
2/20: 12.4 (this has stayed steady for 4 months, but it’s still out of range)
From 11/21 to 2/20, Kani’s PCV has lowered from 41% to 35%. This percentage shows the amount of red blood cells. 20% is the danger level, and it’s scary that we’re heading in that direction.
And yet, Kani seems to feel great! She’s happy, bouncy, and with a good appetite. My vet just shakes her head, smiling. I’ve made a point of getting Kani more exercise lately, with frequent short walks and running with her little springer pack after a tracking session. I just try to be grateful for every tail wag and every good day. Right now, life is a joy with her.
Now that the house is actually on the market, I’m trying to get us back into a training routine. Reardon and Journey are preparing for a go at Utility at the Seattle Kennel Club shows in March, and Rozzie is making good progress with her tracking, now progressing to two corners per track. I also made the big decision to send Gael off to a field trainer for a few months while everything is so unsettled. Next week I’ll head to Kennewick for a visit, and I’ll be posting pictures!