Friday, November 19, 2010

The green green fields of NSW

Jody, Tracey, me, "Lucky Phil" our waiter, Penny, Sue & Nicola attending our nightly dinner party

I have indeed returned from the mystical land of NSW where it rains daily and there are endless hills of lush green grass as far as the eye can see. My sneakers smell like a swamp from walking through water logged grass every day. It felt somewhat like a parallel universe coming from the rain starved city of Perth. You notice it even more in the plane over NSW which is very green and WA which is a decidedly brown colour.

The green machine - definately not recommended for four wheel driving

The resort where we stayed was lovely and couldn't have been more dog friendly. The dogs could stay in the rooms, run free on the property and sit with you in the restaurant while having dinner. The drive out there was unexpectedly challenging with a few kilometers of winding hillside dirt roads with hairpin corners and sheer drops off the side to navigate. We also encountered an array of wildlife including an echidna that apparently you should avoid, not because they are endangered but because they really wreck your car tyres if you run them over. I'm not sure that a Commodore wagon was the best choice of hire car and was filthy dirty by the time we made it to the resort. Luckily all the rain washed most of the dirt off as I was pretty sure I was going to have a hard time convincing the hire car company that it had never left a bitumen road.

We had originally booked into one of the rooms in the "bunkhouse" for the duration of our stay not realising quite what that entaled (picture a box with four bunk beds in it and you'd be close). Call me soft but dorm style accomodation which may have seemed quite acceptable when I was 15 on school camp, is not quite so much fun as a almost 40 year old. We swiftly moved to a much more comfortable resort room for the remainder of our stay.

2 x 2 Session with Susan

Sonic and Kyte travelled well although I think Kyte was a bit freaked out by his first plane ride. Sonic handled it like a seasoned performer given that this was his third time in the air. Up until now Sonic has never been a big fan of Kyte as Kyte is a very "I love everyone" type of individual and Sonic, well isn't. However in the face of "it's Kyte or your on your own", Sonic decided that Kyte was his very bestest friend in the whole world and gave him loves and licks at every opportunity. Other than Kyte chewing his way out of his soft crate on the last night of his stay to raid a bag of apples and museli bars the two boys were brilliantly well behaved and I think Sonic would love to always have four women fussing over him.

Sonic slumming it in the resort room

The Susan Garrett seminar was full on. The more I understand her methods the more I like them and I felt very inspired to become a significantly better dog trainer at the end of every day. I wrote copious pages of notes to try and suck up as much information as I could. Some aspects of the seminar were a little frustrating. I felt surprised that some of the people who I'd seen at the Lynda Orton Hill seminar back in February appeared no further along with their training than what they were then. I'm pretty sure that Susan was surprised too and unfortunately I think she adjusted the content to match the lowest skill level. At this point in time you have to wonder if seminars like these are better split into ability levels as it's not fair to have new people rushed in their learning but it's also not fair for those who are more experienced to be held back by novice trainers. I don't want to miss going to big name overseas agility trainers because the seminar content is the same every time you go because many of the participants don't bother to actually do the work in between the visits.

Horse riding in the green fields of Upper Monkerai NSW on my trusty steed "Princess"

I would also have loved to have delved into the nitty gritty of dog training so much deeper. We ultimately only spent half a day on contacts and realistically all of us from WA would have been happy to spend three days on the subject to really understand the information that had been presented to us. However I did still come away with a lot of things to work on with Sonic and a much better plan of action for when my new puppy eventually joins the house. There are things that I won't retrain Sonic to do at this stage but things like start lines can be significantly improved and I have a better idea on how I can work to improve his drive in between obstacles.

Nicola riding Brandy

I very much enjoyed our handling working spot. Sonic went sore in a shoulder on the Sunday so I thought for a while I wouldn't be able to work with him. Luckily one of the attendees was a vet and prescribed him a short course of an anti-inflammatory which worked immediately and Sonic has been fine since. I don't know that he felt 100% on the day and certainly didn't stretch out like he normally would however at no point did I feel that he was compromised. As always he worked his little heart out and seemed to really enjoy himself. We all got some really great information on improving rear crosses and getting tighter turns from our dogs.

More green fields

Really the next thing I have to do is sit down and actually plot a plan of action. Decide exactly what my goal is and then work out how to achieve it using the information that I have been provided. I'm convinced that we leave way to much to chance here at the moment and I firmly believe that it's not about if your dog happens to have "it", it's what you do with what they have that decides if your dog can be great.

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