Friday, October 17, 2014

Fall Fascination

I grew up in southeastern Georgia, so I never really experienced fall. We had summer and then we had not summer; it was hot or at Christmas time it was maybe 50 degrees--I clearly remember swimming in my grandma's pool on my birthday (Oct. 2) and Mom didn't let us in the pool if it was below 80 degrees outside. We had a lot of pine trees and palm trees and dogwoods, but not a lot of trees that changed colors in the fall. Even when I moved away, I still didn't really have fall because there were minimal trees in New Mexico.

Ohio is so lovely at this time of year and I can't get enough fall. I drive to work every morning in awe of all of sun splashing over all the colors. I walk Barley through our neighborhood and make her stop frequently so I can pause to take a picture of the leaves. Even after living here for 5 years, it never gets old. My mom says she doesn't like fall because she knows what comes next, but maybe I've discovered my inner Elsa and have learned not to be bothered by the cold--regardless, I love fall.





I love walking Barley in the crisp air and the smell of bonfires in the air. I love crunching through the leaves when Barley and I move off to the side when a car is approaching. I love apple cider and apple bagels. I love it all.

Barley and I have stuck pretty close to home this week. Partly because it's midterms, so I had to submit midterm grades for my students this week. Also, it's been pretty rainy this week, so it always seems silly to me to waste non-rainy minutes driving to a park when we could be walking in our own neighborhood and not wasting the little bit of time we have between showers in the car. Plus, our neighborhood has been so pretty that I'm not sure I could take the awesomeness of being out in the woods--we might not get past the first colorful tree I saw without stopping for 15 minutes for a photoshoot!

Despite the rain and grading, we managed to get in 20.99 miles this week. That .99 kills me. We were .01 miles from meeting our 3-mile a day goal! ARGH! If I had known that, I would have walked around the side of the apartment and gone in the backdoor instead of the front door.

Our neighborhood has provided several interesting walks for us, though. For some reason, our neighborhood goes all out for Halloween. Many of our neighbors have erected graveyards in their front yards. Others have ghosts and witches hanging from the trees. Barley hates that. Her ears perk up and her tail goes stiff and she stares down those decorations with her best border collie stare.

Most years, the decorations are about the same, but there was a new addition this year. One of the houses has a bear statue in the front yard year round. It usually doesn't bother Barley (although my parents' dog once froze in the middle of the sidewalk and refused to walk by it), but the bear has been decorated this year and Barley wasn't entirely sure what to think.

That's a severed hand hanging out of the bear's mouth.
It's always good reaction to distraction practice when we have to walk by new things on our usual neighborhood routes.

We've also continued to work in some of the heeling practice we did last week in our neighborhood walks. There's a football field nearby that is rarely used--a few weeks in August and September it sees some use from youth football groups, but those leagues have all wrapped up. There's a track around the field that Barley and I started walking on last fall because we can get in a few laps and add to our mileage without having to go too far from home when it's starting to get darker earlier and earlier. Sometimes, we just swing by in the middle of a walk and do a loop and then continue our walk.

Recently, they add a poop bag holder and trashcan right beside the gate to the field, so I decided that was our sign that we had permission to play on the field, too. Thursday evening seemed like a good time to take advantage of that opportunity. There weren't any joggers using the track, there weren't any kids playing nearby, so it seemed like we'd have plenty of space to do some training without much distraction. 

The field is fully fenced in, but the fence is only about 4-feet high, which Barley could clear easily if there was something she really wanted. So, I left her leash on the whole time. Her recall is usually very good, but if she saw a dog or a kid zipping by on a scooter, she'd go into her "wolf mode" and forget all about me--her leash is usually a pretty good reminder for her that she's with me and not a wild dog. First, we did a loop on the track to make sure the gates were all closed and then we went in.

We started out doing some heeling with the leash in my hand. We started at one end zone and repeated our game from last weekend--walk for a line or two, stop and sit. When we reached the middle of the field, we started jogging. She tried to nip a couple times, which resulted in some abrupt stops and downs, but she seems to be getting the idea that nipping is not an acceptable response to us moving more quickly--I'll have more on what's going on there on Monday. After we made it to the other end zone, we turned around and I dropped the leash. We repeated our drills from before, starting with walking and ending with jogging into the end zone. 

So happy to be jogging alongside me with her leash trailing behind.

She's very serious about sitting when we stop.

We went back and forth a few times, working in different skills. We did several sit-stays while I walked out a few yard lines (our start-line stays have not been great in class lately, so this was a great chance to measure out some distance and work on that) and then called her to heel.






We also worked in some different turns and some serpentine patterns so we weren't just walking back and forth the entire time.

It was great reinforcement of skills we haven't been as consistent about practicing because they usually come so naturally that sometimes I forget that we should just take a break and have a quick refresher on skills that Barley's pretty strong at executing, especially when we've got an opportunity to practice in a new environment. I'm hoping we can take advantage of having a nice empty, fenced in place to work on some "not really off leash leash, off leash" work. Once I have to break out hoodies and jackets with deep pockets, we may stick her long lead in one pocket and a ball/toy in the other and play some fetch, too.

I hope that everyone else has had lovely fall weather and colors to enjoy. Happy FitDog Friday!


20 comments:

  1. Fall is a great time for lots of walking - pretty scenery, nice temperatures. I love the photo of you jogging with Barley - hse is looking up at you with such a happy look!

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    1. I love that one, too! Even when the picture's blurry, she's still a smiley dog!

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  2. Pretty colors. Fall is my favorite time of year. It is nice you found a large fenced field. I wish I could find something like that.

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    1. It is nice! I feel really lucky to have that space to work in--there are some agility skills that we just really can't practice at home without a fenced in yard since there's just not much room in our living room! I'm hoping this helps Barley be even more focused in class :)

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  3. Great action shot and gorgeous colours on the trees.

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    1. I can't get over all the colors on the trees! They are even prettier in person!

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  4. Mr. N finds the Halloween decorations mildly weird but ignores them for the most part. Looks like a great place to play!

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    1. I love that Mr. N isn't bothered by the Halloween decorations. He's the full package: cute, smart, and brave! The tombstones and spiderwebs don't bother Barley, but the second she sees something hanging in a tree, she turns into a chicken :)

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  5. Good job on your sit-stays, Barley! Mom is always reinforcing mine too. Loved the fall foliage photos. It's actually my favorite time of year too, with spring a close second.

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    1. Spring is my second favorite, too! I think Barley loves winter best because she's a snow puppy, but I prefer the more mild, colorful seasons :)

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  6. I so love fall too. A huge part of it is the freedom to get out at any time, no hot sun worries, and often walking in the rain or darker evenings it feels like we have the world to ourselves!

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    1. It is great not having to worry about what time of day it is when I want to go for a walk! It doesn't matter if it's the middle of the afternoon--I can just grab a leash and head out the door without worrying about heat.

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  7. By the way, I know that .1 mile frustration... I have often come back from a walk and not checked my mileage before returning only to find out I was just short of five, ten or even 13.1 miles. Arg!

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    1. It is so frustrating! I hadn't uploaded walks for a few days, so I knew how many miles I'd walked on Thursday--but not how it added up with the rest of the week!

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  8. Love those corgi ears in that one pic! And yes, I hate the .99, too! Fall is the best though, so you'll have plenty of time to round it off :-)

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    1. Technically, we're down to only needed 2 miles per days, so our 3-mile/day goal will keep us ahead of schedule by a lot--but that .01 is soul crushing!

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    2. And baby girl is so weird--I don't know how it's possible for her to have different ears in every single picture!

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  9. I have lived in New England my whole life and never get tired of the joys of fall....the colors, the crisp clean air, apples, pumpkins!
    We are just starting to work with Luke on heeling, and I wish I had a football field to practice in...that sounds perfect! We have our fenced in yard, but it's kind of rough and uneven, and not as big as football field! I will be coming back to read your post on heeling as well.
    Unrelated question....have you ever thought about adding an email subscription option to your blog? I follow you on Bloglovin but if I don't get on there all the time, I miss your posts.

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    1. The football field is perfect! And luckily it's close enough to home that if other people are using it when we get there, we can keep walking and try again on the way home. And your wish is my command--there's now an email subscription option! :)

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    2. Thank you for adding that...I finally got remembered to check and I am now subscribed!

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