Colorado Training - May 2010

Sue and I left Seattle Thursday around noon, with AJ (and the brown dog, of course) and my daughter, Kristen, seeing us off. Getting through security, etc. went off without any issues, thanks to the input from all of our NDSD friends. Flying was interesting … Cody and Luau got settled under the seats in front of us, and when the plane took off, so did Cody! He pretty literally crawled right up onto my lap and probably would have kept on going had I not held him. It didn’t take long to settle him down – as soon as the plane settled into its flight pattern, Cody & Luau slept. Landing was pretty much the same thing; Cody didn’t like the noise, etc. with the landing and ended up on my lap. Sue’s crate came out without any issues. Mine came out in pieces. At least it wasn’t broken and I was able to put it back together again! I definitely overpacked for the trip and won’t make that mistake again.

We took Friday morning pretty easy. Some friends of my family met us at the hotel and took us out to breakfast. It was a great visit for me since I hadn’t seen them in about 40 years! They then took us back to their house to give me a tour. They have 4500 square feet for the two of them, and their entire basement was pretty much a huge game room! They have three or four spare bedrooms so if I ever head down for training again, I know where I’m staying! After we left their place, I took Sue down to Colorado Springs. If you’ve never seen the “Garden of the Gods” it’s a must-see! The picture attached is from there.

Sue had an easy time adjusting to the time change since she gets up at the ass-crack of dawn anyway! It was a bit more of a challenge for me since I don’t usually get up until 7:30 am. Getting up at 6:30am Colorado time was like getting up at 4:30am Seattle time. I was definitely in a fog for awhile. The training site was about 7 miles from where we stayed, and was literally right next to the airport runways (see pic #2 attached). The training site was amazing! It had 7 different rubble piles and an agility area with a barrel field as well. The rubble piles were not very tall, but were very, very long. Cody did very well, but wouldn’t range away from me much more than about 75 feet in any direction. The input I received from those I was training with suggested that that is probably about the size of the piles we are used to training on, and more practice with ranging away from me in a field might help in that area. Saturday was VERY hot, getting to about 87 degrees. Thank goodness it was windy or I think I would have dropped about halfway through the day. It’s usually windy in Colorado so that was no surprise. A gust of wind did blow Luau off of a plank when Sue was working her on the agility equipment, but fortunately Sue was right there to catch her!

Sue, Christoph and I were all training in the same group, which was really nice. We were “paired” with a guy from Colorado that has been doing D-SAR for about 12 years. He had some great input for us. One of the things he noticed about our dogs was that they didn’t start barking right away when they were locating the source of scent. I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing, as they seemed to want to make sure they had the correct “spot” before barking, but his suggestion was to occasionally reward the dogs with zero barks on a find to encourage early barking. We also had a gal from Florida with a yellow lab working in our group. She was fairly new to D-SAR as well and I don’t believe she had passed an FSA yet (I could be wrong on that one). The lunches provided were great for $10 a day. We had BBQ beef and/or pork on buns the first day, and tacos the next. There were probably about 40 people or more there for training, and it seemed to be very organized. It definitely made us realize that we may need to step it up a bit and get really organized for our training in August!

Saturday night we all gathered at a local restaurant that had JUST opened for dinner, and found out that they didn’t have their liquor license yet. I’m sure Taylor, Sean and a few others may have left at that point, but we stayed and ate. We were too hungry to go elsewhere – liquor or not!

Sunday was an absolutely perfect day! The weather was at least 10 degrees cooler, and not a cloud in the sky! Since Sue and I were leaving right after lunch, we decided to work on our separate issues. Sue was first up on the pile that morning, and Luau disappeared briefly after flushing several rabbits off the pile. It was just too much not to chase them, but she did stop (according to the safety guy) after a few loud corrections. She finally got the bunnies out of her system and went to work. Thanks to Sue and Luau, Cody didn’t come across any rabbits on the pile itself, but did see a few between piles. After his harsh correction with the bird at our FSA, I tried not to be too harsh with him – just told him to “leave it” and went about my business. It seemed to work. Cody and I worked on ranging out away from me that morning, and he seemed more comfortable with it. I can’t remember what Sue and Luau were working on … Christoph had a few issues with Spartacus not wanting to stay with his victims after barking a certain number of barks. It seemed as though he was saying, “I’ve found them; let you know about it; and I’m moving on.” We had a great roundtable discussion about it with our team, and they gave him some ideas to work on.

Flying home was no problem. This time, Cody stayed on the floor. He did sit up on take off and landing, but still stayed on the floor. We ended up sitting next to a 7-year old girl who LOVED dogs, and she adopted Cody for the trip. He and Luau were both pretty exhausted, so they were OUT most of the way home. Sue and I missed our flight, but only had to wait about an hour and a half before getting on another.

All in all, it was a great experience for all of us. I can’t wait to do it again!