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April 1, 2014: Dog Training: A Dog for all Seasons

Very exciting, Ryder is slowly becoming a good all-around dog. She’s becoming adept at being a good companion and also at doing search and rescue. Yesterday was a good example of this. There was to be an informal training session at Mirror Lake Middle School. I decided to take a ride there with Jim Madry who owns Yukon. This is because I can’t yet bring myself to drive the stretch of road between Palmer and Anchorage. Too much traffic for me.

Jim readily agreed to take Ryder and me to Mirror Lake. Our phone connection became non-existent as we were making travel arrangements, so I was not able to

Stacie with Lucus

talk with him about what I should do with Ryder. Jim doesn’t crate Yukon, and I don’t crate Ryder, so I figured that we’d figure out what to do when the time came.

I got to the Trunk Road commuter lot and put Ryder in the back seat of Jim’s truck. Yukon, seeing Ryder, just yawned. Ryder jumped into the front seat – I told her “hop in back,” and this is what she did. Yukon then jumped into the front seat – I told him “hop in back” and this is what he did. I was quite proud of my dog, who then settled in for the twenty-minute ride. Later, trainer Stacey Re said that she was surprised that both Jim and I could put the dogs together the way we did. Bottom line: my having an adaptable dog makes life way easier than it would be otherwise.

Present for training: Me with Ryder, Jim with Yukon, Kathy with Tara, Lisa with Mac, and Stacey Re with Lucas. Jim set a trail (by walking) for Tara and Kathy, and I set a trail (by walking) for Stacey. We elected to all work together instead of breaking up into groups. We first worked first with Ryder. I asked Jim to again be Ryder’s subject because he tends to put his heart into this activity. And he agreed.

Today Ryder did not disappoint. Jim went barreling through the knee deep snow behind the parking lot (while holding up his jeans) and Ryder kept him in her radar as he took off. He hid behind a tree. A minute later I showed her the scent item (Jim’s belt) and then released her. She took off really fast, with me holding onto the long line. In seconds, she caught up to Jim, then I caught up to him and tagged him. The two then played tag with an old come along strap that Pete found.

We did this three more times. The last time, Ryder located Jim, but did not go over to him. This seems to be her way of saying enough for now. So Jim did one final play session, and we called it good.

After, Jim, Stacey and I followed Kathy who worked Tara on the predetermined trail, then we watched Jim work Yukon. Jim is doing wilderness training – this involves having the dog find the person while off-lead. The dog then returns to the handler, and alerts him or her to having made a find. The dog then takes off, and shows the handler where the subject is located.

Lisa then worked Mac, and then lastly, we (Jim, Kathy, and I) accompanied Lucas on the already set trail. This was a momentous event – Lucas has been sidelined for nearly a year with ACL injuries, and so this was his return to the world of search and rescue work. The German shepherd did extremely well – he remained focused as we walked through a residential neighborhood, one with several twists and turns. He moved easily in a very decisive fashion. This dog and handler well knew what they were doing.

When we returned to the truck, Ryder and Yukon were snoozing. On the return trip to the Trunk Road commuter lot, I counted my lucky stars. I’m glad that I have a dog who is first and foremost a reliable companion, and secondly a search and rescue dog in training.

Next: 93. 4/3/14: Snow Cave Building, 101