~Loki and Erica
Boy did we have a busy winter! Things have finally slowed down enough to email you with an update. Loki had a fantastic ski season– we worked really hard training for avalanche rescue. Though we weren’t quite ready to test for certification at the end of the season, we were very close– and I’m happy with that for an 18 month old Weimaraner 🙂 we will work hard and hopefully be ready to test near the beginning of the next ski season. I will be happy to feel a little more solid on the obedience side– we’re working towards full compliance off the leash, and we’re getting close, but there are just so many interesting distractions sometimes!
Maybe in my next update I’ll send you some footage of our obedience work. Right now, we’re debating how to spend our summer months– I would like to cross-train him on another discipline so we have something to keep us busy during the summer. The key is to find something that won’t confuse the work we do with avalanche rescue. Some avalanche dogs do water work in the summer months, so that’s one option we’re considering. In the meantime, I’m enjoying looking through our pictures from this winter. It was hard to pick just a few… so I sent quite a few… you may have to pick and choose 😉
Here’s a day in the life of an avalanche dog:
First thing in the morning, it’s important to check all your ropes and boundaries. Loki wants to be sure no one gets lost.
Safe travel skills are important! Here, Loki is practicing with one of the other patrollers, in case one of them ever needs to handle him.
Here, Loki rides with me on the chairlift. This is the main reason for the load-rated harness he wears while working.
(to be continued…) –Erica
We are very happy to receive this update from you and Loki–and especially proud of the two of you. Thanks for all this hard work, you are doing great!
Now that spring seems to finally be here Loki and I are having all sorts of adventures. For the last month or so I’ve been working on introducing Loki to water. First, it was getting his toes wet, then the ankles, and so on. I’ve attached a video from this evening— we headed out to the lake after work. Needless to say, we’ve come a little ways from not getting our paws wet. You may notice the cord on the bumper— sometimes Loki needs to remember that the game is retrieving, not keep away, but the water work has seemed to really help this. Also great insurance in case he doesn’t go for it, so I don’t have to swim.
Other adventures include hide-and-go-seek at lunchtime on a trail system near my office. It’s a great game for anyone to play to help their pup remember to check in on hikes, but with Loki, in particular, we want to develop the idea that he can use his nose to find people. When we’re out on the trail, I wait until he gets just a little too far ahead of me, and I hide in the bushes next to the trail where I can still see him. He is quick to notice that I’m no longer in sight, so he runs back down the trail. He usually goes past me until he hits my scent (in the air), and then he usually works the scent cone back towards me. When he finds me, we enthusiastically play with his favorite toy.Another new thing is teaching Loki to pull me on my longboard. I keep it short and easy so as to not stress his joints, but it’s a great way to practice verbal directive commands. And to take the edge off the wiggles!Loki is also turning into quite a camping dog. Last week was his first tent camping adventure in Glacier National Park over Memorial Day weekend.The two pictures I’m sharing here show our work on the down-stay (he’s not tied in either). You can see the drool starting to come with the cheese! That’s what happens to those who attempt to counter surf. He got no cheese.
As always, we constantly incorporate sit-down-stay-heel-come into our daily routine. The heel is finally taking hold— at least 50% loose-leash on a flat collar, and his off-leash heel is almost better. The red harness he’s wearing in the picture is his working harness and includes a handle to help keep him safe on the chairlift. We are working on associating it with good listening and lots of fun search games.Anyway, I can’t believe he’s 6 months old already! It has gone so fast. ~ Erica
Training for Avalanche Rescue
Loki and I have spent much of the last few months frolicking in the snow. We’re training for avalanche rescue which means at this point that we’re spending as much time as we can on the mountain. Loki loves schmoozing the skiers and boarders around the main lodge, and yesterday he had his first ride on my shoulders while I skied.
This weekend we’ll be riding the chairlift. It’s hard to say what Loki’s favorite thing is about the ski hill, but riding down in a gondola filled with ski patrollers has got to be near the top of the list. As we say on the hill, he’s a real little powderhound.
When we’re not on the mountain, I’m working on developing his toy drive with short little breaks of fun, fun play throughout the day. We’ve also started some simple tracking drills and hide-and-go-seek games.All the best, ~Erica
More about our Adventure
~ Part ThreeUps and Downs
We had some trouble early on with puppy biting. When I tried to correct Loki he would get angry, which worried me. I’ve since used your advice, Shela—a good screech stops him in his tracks! Since then, I’ve screeched and redirected him to something he’s allowed to chew on, and I haven’t had many issues this past week. I’m keeping Cliff’s trick in reserve in case we have more serious difficulties in the future, but for now, we’re on a good, positive track. Though Loki did well with the crate the first couple of weeks, he’s become more vocal this past week and I’ve temporarily revoked his office privileges (his crate is now in an area where his complaints won’t bother anyone). I imagine his increasing energy levels have something to do with it, so I’m making sure he gets more exercise, and he still gets some nice breaks from his crate throughout the day. I’m hoping this is just a phase, and that he learns that fussing won’t get him out of his crate (I’m also doing work to make sure that his crate is a positive place for him—he just objects to not being the center of attention, I think!).
We had a nice visit with the vet for Loki’s 9-week shot. She was impressed with the detailed portfolio you sent and is supportive of the vaccine protocol. She is also happy that I’m feeding the Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Chow with the NuVet supplement. Good news—one of Loki’s testes has descended, and the other was in a good position, so I think we’re going to be just fine on that account. She is also an advocate of neutering closer to the 6-month mark rather than to wait longer.
Loki and I are getting along quite nicely. He’s already my little adventure buddy, and he’s always up for snuggle time at the end of the day. I love this little guy—he is so intelligent and energetic. Though I wrote a fair amount about training, to Loki it’s all fun and games, and I intend to keep it that way. Thank you for all your help in selecting Loki. We’ll be sure to keep you updated!
Click Here for Part One
Click Here for Part Two
Thanks, Erica, for providing so much information about your process and Loki. The photos were outstanding, too! We look forward to hearing from you in the future. Keep up the great work.