Tag Archives: field

Is this the Arctic Circle??!!

12 Mar

Yesterday was soooo cold and windy I was really not looking forward to walking Rudy and Rio after work! We had been having snow falls albeit minimal on and off all day. It hadn’t come to anything so there was no excuse not to get wrapped up and head out!! Well, apart from the fact it was quite hard to open the door against the wind which by then was almost gale force!!!

Little bit windy Rio??

Little bit windy Rio??

I got home and the dogs had been enjoying a snooze in the warm but soon the excitement hit fever pitch as usual when they realised we were off out!! So I started the daily chore of dressing in so many layers I look like a walking, talking Mummy!! It’s always hard to know exactly how cold it is so better to err on the side of caution! Trying to bend down to fasten my boots was interesting!! It reminded me of being pregnant but this time it was the clothes that were in the way!!

Anyway like intrepid Arctic explorers(!) we set off in the car. I decided to walk the other side of the hill as it’s more sheltered. I parked the car and struggled to open the door against afore mentioned wind and wrapped myself up as well as I could and we set off down the track. I can honestly say I have rarely been so cold or blown around!! The dogs set off like torpedos, ecstatic to be out running around and I trundled along hands stuffed deep into pockets, muttering to myself about the sense of this walk and how good I was to the dogs etc etc!!!

It turned out to be beautiful up there and by halfway round the walk my hands obliged and thawed out enough to get some feeling back into them!! The snow was still falling and in fact it looked more like tiny hail stones in the ground. The sun was shining and it really was lovely. It would have possibly been more lovely from inside sitting by a roaring fire but where’s the fun in that??!!

Hail stones

Hail stones

Towards the end of the walk we came across a field full of horses so giving them a wide berth we finished the walk by road. An old chap was putting his dogs back in his car and asked me what breed Rudy and Rio were. On telling him they were working cocker spaniels he said “No they aren’t!! My daughter has one and it’s half their size!!”. Hmm well that’s me told then!!!

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Who’s a dummy??!!

5 Feb

After lots of hill walks I decided Rudy and Rio would benefit from a slower paced walk, more controlled, more confined and to them, ultimately more boring!!!! Anyway, decision made we set off for some local fields with a training dummy. For those who don’t know, a dummy is a training aid used to encourage dogs to retrieve an object and bring back to the owner. Working dogs use these weighted dummies to prepare them for when they get out in the field and have to bring back pheasants.

Training dummy

Training dummy

After the dogs had had some fun running round and doing what needs to be done, we did some heel work and general whistle recall work so there was a fighting chance they would be interested in what I wanted them to do!! The field we were in has plenty of long grass and hedgerows which both dogs love to explore!!

I called them both to me and had them sit. Rio sat and gazed at me intently his whole back end swaying as he wagged his extra long tail!!! Rudy…hmm well as usual Rudy sat slightly apart and gazed intently…into the distance!!! Clearly not impressed that his fun had been curtailed and equally determined to blank me just so I knew what crime I had committed!!!

Keen as mustard!!

Keen as mustard!!

Ok so far so good..ish!!! I had the dogs smell the dummy and said “mark”. Again Rio studied it carefully while Rudy couldn’t have cared less!! I threw the dummy into a clearing not too far away and both dogs waited for the command to retrieve. After a few moments I told them to “go back” and Rio ran straight to the dummy, picked it up and proudly ran back to me, tail wagging frantically!! Rudy had sort of mooched toward it and got side tracked and had a pee instead !!

Ok second go. Again both dogs smelled the dummy and waited as I threw it, this time a few feet further and into some longer grass. At the command Rio sprinted to the area and again found the dummy straight away, retrieved it and brought back ,if not directly to me then in my general direction!! As Rio had set off I had see Rudy out of the corner of my eye take off in completely the opposite direction!! Clearly from the look on his face this was SO DULL he took it upon himself to do his own thing!!

Rio was loving it so much I decided to just do it with him instead and let Rudy get on with it!! After a few more throws Rudy came back and joined in. I swear dogs are like kids !! Once Rudy realised he was getting no attention he wanted to play again!! I almost felt sorry for him as although he can find the dummy most times, he is slower at it than Rio!!

After about 10 minutes Rio was so over excited I called a halt to it before he spontaneously combusted on the spot!!! He wouldn’t leave my side thou as the dummy was in my pocket so we went off up the track with me walking and him doing his best kangaroo impression and yes Rudy skulked along too!!!

It was really good to see Rio doing so well and I guess I just have to accept they are different dogs and Rudy just isn’t that interested!!

You go your way and I’ll go mine!!

23 Jan

Walking Rudy and Rio yesterday in the snow through our local fields as I can’t get on to the hill, I wondered what other dogs are like on a walk? I mean my 2 run like crazy, so fast and cover so much ground so quickly and often in separate directions, it can be tricky to keep track of them both!!

Listening..for 2 seconds!!

Listening..for 2 seconds!!

The first 2 fields lead across to more open land but there is a small lane at the end that when the roads are not covered in snow would be used sporadically for local people and farmers to access their homes. So really I need to get Rudy and Rio back and either put them on their leads for a few minutes or get them listening to me and walking to heel just while we cross the lane.

They have had about a week of not too much training and it never ceases to amaze me how quickly they get out of the habit of listening to instruction!! They are so excited to be galloping round in the snow they find it really hard to calm down sufficiently to take direction and actually do as they are told!!!! I had to make them sit for a minute just to relax then we tried both walking to heel.

I knew they only had to do it for a couple of minutes but guess they didn’t so they lunged around, 1 trotting off too quickly and having to be called back into line, 1 trying to dive headfirst into the hedge after a smell etc etc etc!!! To say it was frustrating was an understatement!! We kept going though and I just wished they could be calmer and WALK not run everywhere!!!

Ring leader??!!

Ring leader??!!

We made it into the next field and I let them go again and they had a lovely time in and out of the hedgerows, tails wagging constantly!! They really are such a happy breed of dog it makes me smile every day!! At the top of this field there is again another lane and Rudy has a habit of ducking through the hedge and racing into the opposite field. Not every time, but too often for my liking so I have to keep an eye that he doesn’t shoot under there. Of course there was no traffic here either so no danger from vehicles but the dogs SHOULD listen and not do as they like!!!

Rudy shot under the hedge and Rio followed so I whistled and bellowed and they pretty much came straight back but I wondered do other peoples dogs always have to push the boundaries and do things they know are wrong?? Is it Rudy leading Rio astray? They are like 2 naughty schoolboys!!! 1 daring the other into the next misdemeanour!!!

They see fences and hedges and gates as things to be ducked under, dived through, jumped over. They are objects of fun to be enjoyed at every given opportunity, not barriers to keep them out of places!!! No Rudy and Rio never just mooch along slowly and to be honest if they ever did I would think there was something amiss!!!

Snowwwwww!!!!

21 Jan
Brrr

Brrr

Well after all the rain..we have now had snow!!! Rudy and Rio love it and are keen to get out in it at every opportunity so I get wrapped up in so many layers I look like a Mummy and off we go!!!

I walked with some neighbours friday around some local fields that before the snow were under water but are now a real winter wonderland!!! We had quite a few Vicar of Dibley moments..when you confidently take a step forward and plunge knee deep into a hole, thus losing your balance and pitching forward head first into said snow drift!! Cue much hilarity from your “friends” and much concern from Rio who rushes back to see you are still breathing whilst Rudy has heard his favourite sound..a pheasant screeching and had taken off in hot pursuit!!!

That being said we had a lovely walk and the surrounding landscape looked beautiful so we stayed  out til it was dark and all went home wetter and colder than when we started  out but all agreed it had been fab!!!

I dried the dogs when we got home and was surprised to see the amount of snowballs stuck to them!! Rio’s back legs were festooned with them bless him and I did feel sorry for them both when I saw that between each claw was more snow!! However they were not bothered and they soon got dry and warm. The exertion of snow jumping obviously took it out of all of us and we all crashed out on the sofa that evening!!

Rio intent on finding something!!

Rio intent on finding something!!

Saturday I walked with my good friend Cath and Fern over Gretton Hill. Again quite hard going as the snow was so deep in places where it had drifted and also your foot plunged down through the snow , hit ice, crashed through that and ended up filling your boots with freezing cold muddy water!! Oh the joy!!

At the top of the hill we bumped into 2 guys running (must be crazy) and offered to close the gate for them. The one guy looked like he was going to cry at the offer as he was planning to use the gate as a support before he collapsed!!! So we left him to it and were just inspecting some strange hoof prints in the snow when we looked up and saw 2 beautiful full grown deer run along the track behind us!!

Needless to say all 3 dogs had missed them as they had put a pheasant up from the bushes and were all going after that!! All in all it was a lovely long walk, the type that when you get home you feel you can relax and enjoy a snooze!!! So we did!!

Two steps forward …and 3 back!!

10 Jan

I really enjoy training Rudy and Rio and usually we get some pretty good results as their breed, Working Cocker Spaniel, are naturally intelligent and keen to take instruction.

With that in mind we were doing some more recall whistle work and heel off lead etc the other day and all was going extremely well. Both dogs had had their free run to blast off some energy at the start and were enjoying the work. Yes I thought I’ve got this sussed!!! I tried something new but it didn’t quite happen!! I don’t know if it was because I didn’t show them clearly enough what I wanted or if it will start to sink in when we try again?

Basically I asked them both to sit and then tried to make Rio wait while Rudy walked to heel with me. Hmm…Rudy happily came but so did Rio!!! So I sat him again and tried to take just Rudy but again Rio came!! His little face was a picture!! He looked quite upset at being left out!! It was pitiful!! We tried a couple more times then I let him walk with us too and he was so happy his tail wagging frantically from side to side!!!

So back to the drawing board with that one for now but usually when we come back to something they seem to remember the idea and we will probably get on better next time!!! It certainly keeps me fit having to go back and forth so many times but when the penny drops and we achieve something new, the feeling is amazing!!!

Anyway just as we were walking back along the track in the direction of the car and I was cheerfully congratulating myself on the huge improvement Rudy and Rio had shown, a pheasant screeched from miles away. I was not quite quick enough to call the dogs back and quick as a flash both had ducked under the fence and shot off across the field heading for where they thought said pheasant may be!!!

Despite me calling and whistling repeatedly they were both struck stone deaf and carried on regardless!!! There followed a period of about 3/4 minutes when I was just stuck waiting for them to come back, whistling at intervals and getting madder and madder by the minute. Then I started to get slightly concerned as I couldn’t actually see them even in the furthest hedgerow but there was no way for me to get to them so I just had to wait…and wait…and wait!!!

Sorry Mum!!!

Sorry Mum!!!

Eventually I saw Rio coming back across the field but no sign of Rudy. The next minute Rudy appeared from a completely different direction!! Both dogs were shattered and I have no idea how far they had run but suffice to say the walk ended pretty abruptly then!!!

A horrible experience and one which made me realise dogs have their own minds and their own wills and they are not always going to listen to me when their instincts take over!!

“A” Grade students…or Class clowns??!!!

8 Jan

For the past couple of days I have concentrated on quality walks rather than quantity. We have walked locally around Winchcombe and Sudeley Castle and incorporated lots of simple training . We usually start the walk with Rudy and Rio off the lead in the field so they can do what comes naturally!!! When they have had about 20 minutes free running and covering the ground like their lives depend on it, I rein them in a bit and calm them down enough to be able to concentrate!!!

Fun time

Fun time

We did lots of heel work off lead sometimes with one dog either side of me and sometimes with them both on one side. They are surprisingly good at this..I say surprisingly,  as regular readers will know what terrors they can be for pulling while ON the lead!!!

Rudy was positively angelic tip toeing along practically against my leg while Rio took advantage of being on the outside and managed to sneak ahead by a couple of paces!!! I’m sure passers by would think I had tourettes as I hiss, click my fingers, tut, growl and mutter at the dogs to keep them sharp and listening to me!!! I figure if I keep nagging them vocally it will become “white noise” and they will become immune to it so I try to vary things and it does actually seem to work.

I see their ears twitch when I hiss and they slow down and come back into line with each other and me. Every time I stop I ask them to sit. This always starts in the same vein…I stop. They stop. I say “sit”. They stay standing. I say “sit” again. They remain standing. I hiss/ tut/growl/stamp my wellie etc and finally the penny drops and they sit, albeit begrudgingly!!!

After a while this process speeds up and usually one or other will get really quick and sit as soon as asked while the other will take the view that they are safe for an extra nano second to stand and look longingly into the vast empty field next to us!!!

When we have done enough of the heel work Rudy and Rio get to charge about like mad things again interspersed with whistle recall work which they love!!! They can be running full tilt along the track side by side seeing who can run fastest ( Rudy!!) and I give 2 blows of the whistle and they turn together, in synch as if attached at the hip and come running back  towards me at the same speed, waiting to see if I am going to ask them to stop or send them past me.

A couple of sessions of this and we resume some heel work or some sit and waits.  Depending how much time we have after doing the sit and waits together  I try to get them to use their brain even more by asking them to both sit and wait then calling them to me separately. This can be fairly hit and miss!!! Usually they both still come together so I have to take them both back and sit them and not go as far away before telling one to wait and calling the other to me.

You have to see the funny side as I call Rudy who is vacantly looking around and Rio who is hovering just above the ground desperate for the command to come!! I call Rudy and Rio comes and vice versa!!! Eventually if we get one right we celebrate… me with a woop woop and them with a bark!!!

I really enjoy trying to teach them new things but have learnt little and often is the best approach and if you don’t expect too much you won’t be disappointed!!!!

All that training's hard work!!

All that training’s hard work!!

Look who’s talking!!

2 Dec
Hmm is she calling us???

Hmm is she calling us???

We all know you are not meant to shout at your children and that they respond better to a calm voice and reason but sometimes it seems only a screech will do!!!  Well it appears the same is true for dogs!!

Calling them to you in a nice kind voice will usually work better than a bellow!!! However it’s hard to remember the basic rules when you see them heading towards potential danger or you have called them 3 times already and they have become deaf!!

Lulu

Lulu

My friend Sue has a recall issue with Lulu her Tibetan Terrier. She is not usually able to let Lulu off the lead to have a good run with other dogs because she wont come back when called!! Her ears twitch so you know she has heard you and sometimes she even stops to decide what she is going to do… you can almost see her brain working things out. ” Hmm I really want to carry on running through this field to chase the rabbit / play with Muffin and Princess / see how far I can get before I drop in a heap… but I can hear my Mum calling me.. Do I run to her or from her??!! She may have treats for me?? She may put me back on the lead!!” What a dilemma!!!

Anyway Sue has found an enclosed dog walking field near to where she lives and has taken the plunge lately and let Lulu off!! It has been a huge success and obviously it’s lovely for Sue to see her dogs having such fun, running around and playing with other dogs.

Until……. some pesky children had left the gate to the dog walking field ajar!!! Lulu and Princess were running off the lead and Sue probably saw the open gate at about the same time as Lulu did!!! It was a race against time now!!! Lulu spotted her escape route and went for it hotly pursued by Princess. Sue called them both…then called again and both ignored her. She shouted at Princess who then stopped in her tracks and came back. So now she just had to stop Lulu!!!

She shouted at her and saw Lulu do a half halt and think over her options ( see above!! ). Unfortunately she decided she would rather carry on and risk Sue’s wrath. After all she was already being shouted at so why come back?? Sue realised she needed to calm herself down and after a few deep breaths called her in her best sing song voice while reaching into her pocket for a treat.

And lo a miracle occurred!!! Well ok maybe not a miracle but Lulu turned and came running back to Sue, tail wagging , happy as could be!!

I think we have all  been in scary situations and reacted accordingly, then realised the shouting scared voice doesn’t encourage the dog to come back. In fact it probably scares them away!!!

I always take a whistle out on walks to call Rudy and Rio back as they run so far away from me on their travels!! It works well and saves using the “wrong” voice!! However I have found that you can actually blow your whistle in an angry way!!!!!! I have found this out twice this week whilst waiting for my little angels to come back!!! You can in fact grip said whistle between your clenched teeth and blow til u pop the button off your jeans!!! Yes really!!!

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