Saturday, September 5, 2009

Champion Quicksilver Rhythm and Blues: "Crosby"

Crosby is Champion Quicksilver Rhythm and Blues, a top-winning Dalmatian owned by Jim and Barbara Lyons. Crosby will be 10 years old this month, and has come to my house to be trained to "coach", or follow the horses. Crosby will be here for 2 months. If all goes well, Crosby will compete in the Greater Washington Dalmatian Club Road Trial in late October (2009).

I live in Crane, Montana. The GWDC RT will be in Virginia. I own two Dalmatians, a Lab, and two horses. I have competed in Dalmatian Road Trials since 1992. I have titled 6 different dogs in Road Trials; 4 of them earned both the RD and the RDX. Crosby has had some obedience training, and has had extensive show training. I will train Crosby to the RD level, and hope to compete with him at that level. I only have 2 months.

DAY 1: Crosby came yesterday afternoon. What a beautiful dog he is! And so adaptable! He has such a delightful temperament.
Today I got up at 6 AM and pottied him, then we worked on basic, on-leash obedience. I hope to be able to get a few Rally Novice legs on Crosby in 2 weeks.
Barbara Lyons, Crosby’s owner, has already taught Crosby the basics of heel, come, sit, and swing. With treats, I worked him on those maneuvers plus around and turns. He did VERY well. This is a very nice dog.
Crosby gets along with my other dogs (4 yr neutered male Dal; 11 yr female Dal; 9 yr neutered Lab) very well. He had no issues with them from the beginning, and the worst thing they all do is have a “marking” contest on every blade of grass. I am LOVING this dog’s temperament!

DAY 2: Today we did the usual AM routine: potty then obedience work on the ground, on-leash. Crosby tends to lag on the heel, so today we worked on this with lots of praise and encouragement. The automatic sit is not there, but Rally doesn’t require it, so I am working on sits on command. He learned very quickly with slight pressure on his rump. He responds well and learns fast. Good dog.
After breakfast I took all the dogs for my exercise walk (2 miles). Crosby did it on a flexi. I don’t allow him to pull, and he learned quickly just how long the flexi is, and how to use it without getting a correction.
After the walk, I put the Lab indoors (he is new here also, and doesn’t have the stamina nor the training to go for a horse ride), then I tied Crosby to a water spigot while I saddled Shadow (the horse). (The other two Dals get to run loose during this time, because they have been trained to stay nearby). Crosby was a bit vocal at first about his confinement situation, but a scruff shake with a verbal scolding took care of that (he learns quickly!).
With Crosby on a sit-stay on-leash, I mounted Shadow. Then we started at a walk, with Crosby at “heel” on the left of the horse. I began using the Hock command (instead of heel). Crosby didn’t even seem to notice the horse, and moved along well from the start. We did about 3 miles at a trot, then put the horse up. What a great time! Crosby took to this like a Lab to ducks! It’s lovely to watch his smooth, ground-covering gait. I couldn’t trot the horse slowly – that was too slow for Crosby. I had to move at a nice clip. It was a good conditioning session!
I live at an elevation of 2,000 feet. Although this is not very high, it is higher than what a California dog is used to. So I will condition slowly, even though Crosby seems in great shape.

DAY 3: obedience work at 6:30 AM. Crosby was more attentive today. He had a real “spark”. I think he’s discovered the treats, and how to get them. He was better about not sniffing, and about keeping up. We trained in front of the goose pen, while the geese hissed at us. Great distraction!
From 7 – 8 we walked. 2 miles. On a flexi. Crosby showed some response to the Come command today on the flexi, but there is still no immediate response. He has not yet discovered that a “come” means treats.
At about 8 AM I saddled and rode Pate (the Appaloosa). Pate is much slower than Shadow, and tends to wander when walking, so this gives Crosby experience with a different horse. Crosby did very well on his stays. He even stayed while Pate stomped his impatient feet and tried to get me moving again (I backed the horse away from the dog on the stay, so that if the horse is impatient, the dog is not in immediate danger of being stepped on). I took Crosby out by himself today, so that I could focus on him, and not confuse him with commands/corrections to the other dogs.
Crosby doesn’t seem tired by all of this exercise. He is in great shape, and came inside and wanted to play!

DAY 4: Same routine. Obedience training on leash on the ground (Rally). Then 2 mile walk on a flexi. Then a 2 mile quick horse ride at a trot. For the obedience training, I began trying “random sits”. I still get resistance from Crosby on the sits. He sits well with certain hand signals (when he thinks it comes with a treat), but for the RD I need him to sit without a signal, so I am working on voice recognition. Crosby obviously thinks treats are for standing (conformation stack), and so he tries that first. Sometimes he sat, but most of the time he seems unresponsive. Actually, he is responding; he responds with a show stack. Good dog, Crosby, just not what I want! When I try random sits in the house, I suddenly have FOUR dogs accosting me for treats. Do you know how many treats I am going through? Yesterday I cut about 75 hot dog chunks. They were all gone before the morning ride; I had to make more for the horse ride. I will continue to work on automatic obedience sits on leash, and random sits on the flexi and in the house.
On our horse ride I set up the camera for video and set it on an electrical box. I haven’t looked at it yet, but it should show Crosby learning the hock for a short span.
Crosby did the one minute sit stay from horseback (on leash) very well today. He completed it well two times. This is very encouraging!
Crosby’s house time is spent mostly tied to my waist. This reduces his counter surfing, and helps him attach himself to me (literally)!

DAY 5: Today Crosby got no real training. I got up early to be in a parade in North Dakota (about an hour away). I rode the horse sidesaddle, with Caden and Rad at hock. Crosby, of course, was not ready for a parade yet; plus the asphalt and the heat might be too hard on his pads at this point. It was a very hot day, but Caden and Rad did well. We were done with the parade before the temps got above about 85.
When I got home in the afternoon, I put Crosby, Rad, & Caden out in the dog run while I got up on the roof to help Brad (we are building an addition). I can see the run from the roof (and the dogs can see me). Crosby was very unhappy with me, and spent the afternoon proclaiming his displeasure. It was very hot outside (100 degrees), but the run has great shade, so the dogs were probably out in about 85 degree temps. Crosby kept moving the whole time, which is great, because I got to see how he holds up in the heat. He got plenty of exercise in the run – he exercised himself. And he seemed to have plenty of energy for the heat. He is inside now, and still has enough energy to play. So he got his exercise today , even though he didn’t really get any training. My, my, this dog DOES NOT act like he is TEN!

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