It's been one of those weeks where I feel like I'm running on only a bowl of Wheaties—I haven't had a whole lot of energy and have had the patience of someone low on blood sugar. Not too inspirational. I'm not sure where the downer mood came from, but I knew I needed to get out for some real exercise in an attempt to zap some life into me.
My determination showed. We were the first people at the trailhead parking lot. When we hit our first steep climb, I was ready to push hard. As always, Kona waited for me to hurry up.
We made it up the climb and merged onto a fireroad. The more I run a trail, the more relaxed I feel on it. Kona and I have crossed this trail enough times that I no longer feel spooked about what may lie high up the mountain walls. I instead marveled at the steep terrain.
Kona decided marveling was quite boring.
As we continued to climb, rustling off the trail caught Kona's attention. After a few moments of waiting, a family of quail mad dashed cross the fireroad. Quail are such goofy birds, with their pompom heads and awkward flying attempts. I think Kona thought they were silly looking too.
When we reached the top of our climb, we both had energy to spare. Kona seemed to have a hard time relaxing, even though we were at one of her favorite sniffing grounds. It took awhile, but she did loosen up.
I decided to explore the area a bit. We headed to the high camp that sat just above us. The area is used for group camping, often for scout troops. Huge picnic tables took away any feeling of solitude, but I enjoyed the forested surroundings. Most of our trails stay at lower elevations and in chaparral forests. Big trees were a welcomed change of scenery.
Kona became very interested in a crow's nest. She was frustrated that I wouldn't let her get any closer to the big birds.
When it was time to head back, I decided to make our run longer by skipping the steep singletrack and sticking to the fireroad which would connect us to the creek. I thought Kona would enjoy a new trail and have fun in the water once we reached the bottom.
I don't know if Kona had a memory of our Disneyland run up this trail, but our descent and the remainder of our run wasn't too fun. Kona's mood didn't change suddenly when we turned downhill, she had been having a tough time from the start, but she got worse during the descent.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I finally got Kona into her crate. I think I need to come up with a plan to help Kona, especially with her hyper vigilance. I'm sure there will be more on that later.
Nose Work Info
My apologies for not posting this yesterday like I said I would. It was that whole "running on a bowl of Wheaties" thing.
I'm really liking Nose Work for Kona. It's much easier for her than other classes we've tried because it's hard for her to focus on me when she's nervous. In Nose Work, she doesn't have to pay attention to me! Engaging her nose seems much less stressful than following commands.
The classes we're taking are set up as a progression to have dogs ready to trial. Nose Work trials are sanctioned by the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW). The folks at the NACSW wanted to open the training taught to detection canines to companion dogs. Add in competitive trials and you have a new dog sport!
The inaugural Nose Work trial was held in August of 2008, so the sport is in its infancy. From what I can find online, it seems as though the founders of the NACSW have been traveling and presenting Nose Work workshops to handlers and trainers in hopes to spread the word and keep the sport growing.
I have a feeling Nose Work will be around for awhile. I don't know of another sport where you follow your dog instead of giving her commands. There's still a huge component of teamwork and I'm beginning to see how handling does play a huge role (you need to learn how to not mess up your dog's search). I like the dog/handler dynamic. It reminds me of Search and Rescue work, but scaled back and simplified.
I plan to keep Kona in classes as long as her stress levels stay at a mid to low range. Hope to have more Kona Nose Work stories in the future. In the meantime, we'll keep chasing our shadows on the trails.