Monday, March 16, 2009

tracking with Gretchen

This morning I was loaded into the car to go to the barn - a VERY good sign. My tracking gear was in the car and I was psyched!

After Sandi did her barn chores we hit the road to Sanford, NC to meet our tracking coach Gretchen Stephenson. She finished her AKC CT tracking title this winter with one of her Weims, Obie. Gretchen was one of our first teachers in tracking.

We met at a large park, which was mostly under water thanks to the previous 5 days of steady rain.

Check out Setter Tails for a report on Ambrose's first tracking lesson!

Gretchen laid a track for us which included tracking through a lot of standing water.

It was really fun, but it was interesting how
the scent was hanging on the surface of the
water. I could taste it when lapping at the

Here are some more photos (taken by Gretchen)
of our track. This was really fun and I did a
great job. I didn't even really mind my article
indication in the water.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pet Partner evaluations

Last weekend we had a house guest, Judy Thorn. Sandi has known Judy since she and Ruby were in Judy's Canine Good Citizen class at the APS of Orange Co. dog training program in 1999. Judy also helped Sandi and Ruby become Delta Society Pet Partners in 2000. The Delta Society Pet Partners program helps train and screen handler/animal teams to participate in visiting animal programs in hospitals, schools, libraries and other facilities.

Sandi and Ruby volunteered for 6 years, working in our local hospital inpatient pediatric psychiatry unit, Ronald McDonald House, Neuropsychiatry, Orange County Exceptional Child Program, schools and summer camps.

This past weekend when Judy was here, she evaluated some students from Sandi and Jenn's (Royal's person) Therapy Dog class at APS/Paws4Ever. Here is a photo taken during one of the classes. Our assistant Karen is demonstrating some awkward petting with Whiskey, and Megan is taking notes. Megan is a high school student doing her project on animal assisted therapies.

It was boring for me because I had to stay home - at least it was sunny and warm and I could be outside. Ruby works as neutral dog for the evaluations so she got to go and be a part of the activities.

The evaluation begins with the obedience skills exercises from the Canine Good Citizen test, then moves on to aptitude skills. These exercises simulate experiences a team may have while on a visit in a facility, such as encountering an individual with an uneven gait wearing a floppy robe, or using a loud voice, or in a wheelchair. It also involves uncoordinated petting, and petting by a crowd of people at once. I really like people, but some of the exercises would make me nervous and over-excited. Ruby is good at handling these things. The handler is evaluated on social skills and how well they support their dog at the same time. Both ends of the leash are being evaluated!

Here is a photo of Jenn and Bernie after their renewal evaluation (teams have to complete a renewal evaluation every two years). They did a really good job. Bernie is an English Shepherd type like I am. Judy is in the middle, and the robed volunteer is Deb. Deb was a student in Sandi & Jenn's class, and she and her whippet Tangie successfully completed their Pet Partner evaluation.

Judy spends time with each handler to give constructive feedback after their evaluation.

For more information visit Delta Society's website at and read about their Pet Partners program.

Monday, March 2, 2009

More Snow! Yippee

What do you know? We woke up this morning and we had snow! That is really amazing, since last night when we went to bed everything was dark and dreary, and this morning it is white and fluffy.

I love snow because it brings out all the great smells outdoors, and I can usually find a critter to dig up. They probably think they are safe under that snow, but they don't know the power of my nose.

Ruby loves the snow too, and so do Sandi's horses. They snort and get silly. Willy is a thoroughbred gelding who is 27 years old now. He wears a blanket to stay warm.