Coronavirus Lockdown

Happy Friday, everyone! Except we can’t really go anywhere to celebrate. I’ve struggled with what to write for this blog post. As with most of the U.S., we’re two weeks into this coronavirus lockdown. As someone who is self-employed and mainly works at home, my routine hasn’t changed all that much. But everything still feels weird. I am very goal-oriented and generally need some sort of external stimulus (i.e. a dog show, running race, etc.) to motivate me to do something. Now that everything in the near future has been canceled, I’ve been struggling with motivation even more than usual. (Side note: I’m an Obliger, according to Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies Framework. This means I need a lot of external accountability to get things done. If you haven’t heard of this personality framework, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s given me a lot of insight into how I, and others, operate.)

I’ve been trying to be easy on myself and not set unrealistic expectations about what I can accomplish during this period. Part of me feels like I should be doing something ambitious, but I don’t want to set myself up for failure.

What I’m Doing With the Dogs

The daily lives of my dogs hasn’t changed much either, but we are more restricted about where we can go. The county I live in issued a shelter-in-place yesterday, so I will have to get more creative about what we can do at home.

One thing I decided to do is enroll in a six week online canine fitness class which starts on Saturday. I have done a little bit of canine fitness with Zara and Colombo but I’m excited to learn more. I know having the accountability of a class will keep me motivated.

I had entered Colombo in several conformation shows this month and was looking forward to seeing if our training was going to pay off. But this break just gives me more time to refine his gaiting patterns and try to build his desire to work amid distractions. The other day, I took him to the local dog park and we just walked around outside the fence. I would stop periodically and try to get him to focus on me. This was very difficult for him with the other dogs in view. No wonder he struggles to focus at a dog show, with hundreds of dogs around.

Zara doesn’t have any hunting events until fall, but I am trying to refine a few things for our next try at NAVHDA’s Utility Test. One thing she likes to do after she retrieves an object (typically only a freshly shot bird) is parade around with it instead of coming directly to me. Ideally, I’d like her to sit next to my right side and wait until I take the bird. She will come to me, but she doesn’t always go into that exact position.

To help with this, I made some place boards. I now have her sit on the place board when she returns with an object. I’m hoping that enough repetitions of this will make it more clear to her what I’m looking for.

Zara sits on one of the place boards I made.

Thankfully, one thing we can still do is run with the dogs. I was planning on doing a 5K race with Zara in April, but that has been canceled as well. Regardless, I’ve been running with her twice a week, which is good training for both of us. I usually do my other run without her, because I need to be able to run without totally relying on her assistance. Those runs are usually much slower than the ones with Zara!

Some of the trails near of us have been really crowded lately, since everyone is out and about trying to get some fresh air. I may need to stick to running in our neighborhood for a while because staying six feet from people is hard on a crowded trail.

Zara is happy as long as she’s outside or someone is entertaining her.

What have you been up to during this crazy time? Leave me a comment below.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Gwen Van der Zyppe says:

    We are experiencing the same increase in crowding at our local state park, but that just pushes Molly and I to go farther off the beaten path. Most people are lazy so they stay by the lake and the parking area. We used to do 2 miles a day and she could get enough exercise by running back and forth, but we are now up to 5 miles a day in order to get away from the crowds. I find that my fitness and her engagement have increased, so I think I will continue on this path (pun intended.) We are in the early stages of working on her recall, walking with me off leash and getting ready to do some NAVHDA work this Spring (which probably won’t happen now.) With just the distraction of the woods, squirrels and birds, she is doing very well. And every time a mountain biker comes along, I am able to recall her to me with good results. I am so proud of how much our hikes have strengthened our relationship and her willingness to work with me! Coronavirus be d#@$ed!!

    • Terry Ann says:

      That’s awesome! Recall and attention among distractions are so important! These are things you can practice without birds around and you’ll see the benefits when you finally get to do some bird training. When Zara ran her first Junior Hunter test, she had only been on live birds three times and a lot of what she did during the test was natural ability. But we got a 10/10 on Trainability, which is primarily judged on obedience, like recall. I was proud of this, because that was one thing that we HAD worked on! We had spent a lot of time hiking off-leash, just like you are doing, and she was very good about coming to me. So keep at it!

Leave a Reply