Today was the last major training Jochen and I will attend prior to THE TEST in two weeks. The various REDOG Regional groups take turns throughout the year to train for a day or weekend at Meiersboden, Chur. Yesterday was the turn of the Zurich group to spend just the day here. I have worked with this group before in the Serbeco recycling centre near Geneva. I really like this group and feel very comfortable with them so I was delighted to have this last opportunity to spend a day training with them.
The first time Jochen tried this ladder, he struggled to get to the top because of its steepness and also because of his size. I later saw what looked a type of Jack Russell Terrier almost run up this ladder.
Really anthropomorphising now, it was almost as if he were saying, 'damn it, I WILL NOT let that thing beat me', and up he went again. My helper and I made sure that he was fine and he went through the tank although he had to duck slightly, and came out the other end.
Now, Jochen has a tendency to want to jump from high places, 'look ma, no hands!' and so another helper had placed herself at this end to prevent him from from doing just that, a jump of about 6 feet. 'Shoulders, back, AARRGHH!!!' was going through my head as I raced to that end and commanded a very serious, 'Steh' (stand), which he did. He then followed my hand and sedately walked the rest of the planks down to safety. Naturally I was very a very proud and very relieved handler.
I was not sure about even trying to get Jochen to do this obstacle as the tunnel is so small. I noticed one of the male Malinois having to crouch to get through and Jochen is a lot bigger than that dog.
But my helper said she would support and we could only try, no big deal if it does not work. The plank leading up to the tank at the back is very narrow and Jochen had a few goes before he was able to adjust to its width. He somehow scrabbled through the tunnel, walked the horizontal ladder leading straight from the tunnel, and then walk the plank to the second drum from which I lifted him off. Job done. He can do it, it is just his 'ma' who on occasion chews her fingernails. 'Helicopter mum' I hear a certain person saying. You bet.
The Zurich group split into two and Sandro organised the advanced group. Sandro by the way is also going for the big test with his Malinois, Cliff, a handsome and talented dog. Sandro organised two really great searches for the day and Jochen did well. I had that gut feeling that the jinx I had allowed to creep into my psyche regarding this training site was finally laid to rest. I felt good, Jochen worked well and I was given some more excellent pointers for my growing list of information regarding the test and how to manage it.
Helen, the handler who assisted Jochen at the agility obstacles is another test candidate and she also a rather handsome Malinois, called Djinn who works so well.
LAST TIME WITH THIS GROUP
Jochen and I caught the bus back to Chur and the train to Rhaezuens, getting home at about 6.30 pm. I realised that this will be the last training day with Zurich, that the next time I see most of them will be in Geneva either as fellow candidates, 'victims' or helping in the kitchen, and after that, who knows. It is also most likely the last time Jochen and I will be in a Swiss train together. Three months and a crazy, fantastic project to reach for the highest level in Canine USAR, are nearly over. I feel sad but I am now also looking forward to the test itself.
Need I add that still almost every day that I am out and about with Jochen he attracts attention. Up in the wilds of the mountain behind where we live, on Friday a forester told me that Jochen is absolutely magnificent to look at.