Sunday, June 6, 2010

What's Next?

It’s just so cool.

With Zachary passing his Canine Good Citizen test on Wednesday, I have now, finally, at long last, completed an item on my list of Goals for 2010.

Yup. One.

(wait… wait… give me a moment to savor it… Ahhhh….)

Ok – moment’s past. No time to rest on our laurels - do you realize how far behind I am this year? Training Levels has taken the biggest hit in our quest for the CGC certificate, and Training Levels should be where my focus is. By the end of this year I had resolved to finish Level Three + OTR 1 (On The Road) for both dogs, Level 4 (OTR 2 for Zachary only) and Level 5 (no OTR for either.)

And where are we now (CLICK HERE)?

We are still stuck in Level Three, that’s where we are. And while we have made major inroads into Level Four, there is still much left undone. To make matters worse, at the moment, all the easy stuff is behind us and the more time consuming things (like scenting and retrieve and that !@#$ Sit-Stay…) lie before.

So, what am I going to do about it?

I’m going to start working on Rally!!!

(I never said was the clever one in the family)

You see, the other “undone” on my 2010 goals list is AKC Rally Novice (RN) for Zachary – not the title, just enter a match by the end of the year – and Rally Novice is filled with relatively easy things to work on - things we worked on in earlier Training Levels (sits and downs and such) plus things required but unfinished for Training Levels future (Heeling, Fronts, and Finishes.)

Alas, there are no Rally classes that work with my schedule, so it looks like Zachary and I will have to go it alone. Oh well, no matter. Homeschooling is the name of the game around here!

To that end, I whipped up an Excel spreadsheet last night with all the Rally Novice signs and descriptions, and printed them out on Business Cards (see photo above - click to see larger) with the sign pictured on one side and the exercise description (abridged as necessary) on the back. These will make handy flash cards for re-familiarization, as a few things have changed since Beau got his RN title (pre-2008.)

And then I started thinking about how I was going to set up practice courses in my rather long, narrow, sloping yard. (Short answer? I can’t.)

After much thought, I finally decided I might be able to do a substantial amount of practicing using just 6 cones. Each cone will be 6-8’ from it’s horizontal and vertical neighbors, making the 4 in a row just right for the Serpentine, Weave, and the change of pace exercises, while any 3 in a row would work for the spirals. The idea is to shuffle my cards and go stand by an outside cone (say, ‘F’.) I read the card and then perform whatever it says at cone ‘C’ (except those Serpentine and Weaves) and then move on the logical cone after that. So if I start at ‘F’, pull the Right Turn card, I’ll heel to ‘C’, turn right, and end up at ‘D’. From there I can stop, turn around, and then pull another card. If I want to do longer heeling, I can do so by skipping the center cone for the U-Turn exercises and heel all the way to the furthest cone.

I figure, using this method, I can get a lot of practice in using a pretty small footprint. If I don’t plan on working the Serpentine/Weave I can eliminate cone ‘A’ and need just 16x16 or less, depending on how much space Zachary needs to get turned around in.

(Will it work? I have no idea. I'll let you know once I've tried it.)

As one story ends so another begins. I can’t wait to get started!

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