Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lafontaine Beach Park

Lafontaine Beach Park... It may not be beautiful in the traditional sense of how we may think of beaches... there are random weeds everywhere, there are different sized rocks scattered all around, the shoreline is irregular, and the sand is course, not fine. But, all I can tell you is that it is beautiful.... I loved it.

I was up in Lafontaine today, and since I was so close to the shores of Georgian Bay, I decided to drive down the winding, snaky road that hugs the shoreline. I was in Tiny Township, the site of much heated debates between land owners and public beach seekers. It would seem that much of the beautiful Georgian Bay shoreline in this township is privately owned. There are some public beaches there, but some of them are literally no wider than an in-town house lot... approximately 60 feet wide... with private land owners on both sides. Because these beaches have been in the news so much over the years, I had always wanted to see them for myself... see what all the fuss was about. I was lucky because it was a beautiful sunny day. The first beach I stopped at was Lafontaine Beach Park... a small public beach, but one of the "larger" ones in the area, much bigger than a single house lot. There were private homes on either side of the public beach, and once you walked out onto the shoreline, you could easily turn around and view some of the beautiful houses along the shore. Ah-h-h-h-h, to be the owner of a beach front property. There was no one else out there when I was there. It was early afternoon, and there was barely a breeze. The sun was bright, the sky blue, and the sun was sparkling off of the water. I could see almost the entire Georgian Bay shoreline off in the distance. It was utterly peaceful there, almost too beautiful and stunning for words. I was mesmerized by the calm, sparkling waters and the simple fact that no where along the shoreline was there any view of city buildings. This beach just gave me a sense of utter peace... I didn't want to leave! Unfortunately I did not have my good quality camera with me, but I did manage to get some decent photos with my cell phone. Although looking at these photos does take me back to that day, and reminds me of the feeling I got while standing on the shore... I'm not sure that they actually do the place justice to those who have not been there...

Looking out at the water from higher up the beach... you can see the other side of the shoreline off in the distance, albeit only faintly.

A piece of shoreline... here you can see the rocks... these rocks continue out into the water, so I'm not sure how nice this would be for swimming.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Urban Tracking 101

Today I was lucky to be able to join some very experienced trackers for some urban tracking coaching. It was not that long ago that I thought of urban tracking as being too difficult and the titles seemed too far out of reach. Although after passing the preliminary CKC tracking title, the TD with both dogs this year, I do have my sights set on the more advanced CKC tracking titles. So when I had the opportunity to get some first hand coaching from some experience urban trackers, I jumped on it. We did a couple of very short grass to pavement tracks for Eros today, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well he took to the pavement. I did a very short one for Arlo too, and he also did well. Arlo has already had an introduction to hard surface tracking. I also had the opportunity to watch a few experienced dogs do an urban track, two of them were "blind" tracks. Very interesting indeed!

Later on in the day we moved over to some open fields, and did some field tracking. I was lucky to have a "stranger" track laid for Arlo through varied terrain. He did very well, and only missed one article. He did have some trouble on corners, but finished the track, and indicated all of the other articles (GREAT for Arlo!).

Overall it was a great day, with beautiful weather that was unseasonably warm for November in Ontario.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Vote For Len! TTL Photography

The Globe and Mail has a contest on right now which will award one photographer and one writer a guest ticket to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics to be a guest journalist for the Globe and Mail complete with a new camera, event tickets, flight, accommodations, and spending money. It would be the trip and opportunity of a lifetime!

For many agility enthusiasts here in Ontario, our favourite action photographer has been Len Sylvester of TTL Photography. He has been in attendance to many of the regional and national championships, as well as some local trials. His photos are simply amazing, and offer the competitors a chance at some stunning action shots that they otherwise would not have access to.

Please go to the Globe and Mail website and cast for vote for Len... You can vote daily and a one lucky voter will win a new laptop computer and a new DSLR camera. One vote per day per user is allowed!

Let's help Len get to the 2010 Winter Olympics!

Here is Len's submission:

Blaze in the weaves, as captured by TTL Photo.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

And Just Like That, They Were Gone...

Sunrise this morning.

View of some ominous looking clouds off of my front porch yesterday afternoon.

It was just last week that most of the trees still had most of their leaves. Then, with a powerful windstorm that rolled through here on the weekend, virtually all of the leaves are now off the trees. It was within a day or two that the majority of the leaves were blown off. Very dramatic transformation.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Daylight Savings Time Ends

This past weekend we switched back to standard time. The darkness will now come much more quickly in the evening, reducing our daylight for outdoor training. As winter approaches here in Ontario, we must deal with much shorter days and very long nights. The lack of light along with the cold and miserable weather significantly reduces our ability to work on many aspects of our training. It is when much of our training gears down and we work on what we can. Some of us are lucky to have indoor facilities in which to work. Agility skills can often be kept up quite well over the winter months, as many excellent indoor facilities are available. For schutzhund enthusiasts, many aspects of our training are put on hold until spring.

As the long, cold, dark winter months approach, many of us are simply dreaming of spring with its warmer days and longer daylight hours.

It will be another long winter *sigh*.

Handler Errors = Point Losses

Schutzhund trials are few and far between here in Ontario, so when one is being held, I always try and go out to watch. One can often learn a lot by watching trials, and I find the judges' critiques very helpful. I attended a trial this past weekend as a spectator. I have recently paid very close attention to the handlers in trials. I have found that there is a wide range of handling styles, but they can basically be broken down into 2 broad categories; Confident and Non-Confident handling. The handler's body language speaks volumes to the spectators, the judge, and of course, the dog. The handlers I admire the most are those with confident and smooth handling. Even when things start to fall apart on you out on the trial field, or when the unexpected happens, those who maintain their composure and smooth, confident handling present an overall excellent picture.

The other thing that I find astonishing is how many handlers make unnecessary handling errors that cost points. In this case, handlers are simply giving points away. It is a needless practice and, in my opinion, almost completely preventable. Certainly I will agree that trial nerves sometimes get the better of us as dog handlers, and due to nerves, we may forget things out there on the trial field. These mistakes should be rare occurrences, however, not frequent happenings. Perhaps it is my strong competitive agility background that is influencing me, but I simply feel that with just a little effort in trial preparation, handler mistakes can be minimal. In agility, handler errors are so extremely costly. It can cost you a clean run or a first place finish at a large competition. In agility the course is never the same. The handlers get 7 minutes to walk the course, choose their path, and decide on their handling strategy. In schutzhund, the obedience routine is always the same, it never changes. You know ahead of time what you must do at each level, which order you must perform the required exercises, and what commands to use. This should all be virtually automatic for the handlers. With having a solid, automatic handling system in place, it is one less thing the handler must think about while out on the trial field. And, because we all know ahead of time exactly what is expected, there is really no excuse for seemingly senseless handler errors. Except of course those that occur due to handler nerves or stress. What we should all be striving to achieve is what has long been common practice in the agility world; muscle memory. Many high level competitive sports require the participant to have muscle memory to be successful. Schutzhund should be no different. If you ever watch handlers at the world level in schutzhund, it is a very rare sight indeed to see a handler make an error. It would also be very counter productive to do so... when you are competing for a world championship, giving points away for things such as not taking enough steps in the buildup of your motion exercises or not assuming the basic position with your dog in between exercises will be catastrophic in term of your placement. I believe that all handlers can achieve this level of handling with some simple steps.

Because we all know the routine in advance, and it never changes, we should be out practicing the routine on the trial field without our dogs. Yes, that is correct, without the dog. Go out and walk the entire routine, and use all the commands you would use if your dog was there. Practice counting the paces in your head over and over again. The last thing you need on trial day is to try and remember how many paces are required for each part of the routine. This should be automatic. I also throw in there the exact moments when I plan to reward my dog with light praise, as it is allowed in the rules. This way it becomes automatic. I don't have to think about it. I practice throwing the dumbbell over the jumps, and all other aspects of the routine. If my rehearsed movements for each part of the routine are absolutely correct, the likelihood of me making handler errors out there is significantly diminished, as I have learned muscle memory for these required elements. This is a skill I have learned through many years of competitive agility. It is a skill that all of us can master with a little practice.

Below is the heeling pattern for all levels in schutzhund.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Serpentine Tracks - Everything That is Old is New Again

Sod Farm where we often track.

The idea of running serpentine tracks is not new... many experienced trackers use this technique to their advantage. Serpentine tracks help the dog to understand that the track can go "anywhere", can slow the dog down, teach the dog to be more careful when searching, and can help with corners. I saw the value in using serpentine tracks quite some time ago, and I did try a few of them. The problem that quickly became apparent is that if I cannot see the track... I do not know where it is, and I have no way to assess how accurately my dog is working. Very frustrating indeed. Because of this, I stopped running serpentine tracks.

Recently I came across an experienced SchH competitor who routinely trains with world level competitors. He recommended serpentine tracks, and uses them more often than straight line tracks. He and his club members have had great success in competition with their dogs. I decided to pick his brain for more info.... How does one know where the track is? Well, his advice was helpful for sure. He does use a distance object (as if you were running a straight line track). This distance object then becomes your "centre line"... Meaning you walk your serps out to the right and left of this centre line, but always come back to this centre line. Then you use a natural landscape marker for knowing where your curves are, or use an artificial marker, such as a thin rod or dowel. Sounds easy enough.

In practice however, it has proven to be much more difficult. On the occasions when I could see my track, the dogs have done reasonably well. When I have not been able to see it, disaster has ensued. My dogs were casting and circling a lot, and despite there being a ton of food on the tracks, both dogs had considerable trouble. One night recently Arlo decided he was going to go in a straight line anyway, and because I did not know where the track was (except of course, for the centre line - track could easily be seen when laid... disappeared by the time I ran it), he proceeded along in his straight line, intersecting the serps along his way, finding food of course, and believing he is somehow "on the track"... how utterly frustrating. My dogs have been running straight line tracks for quite some time now (with corners of course), and seem to be so conditioned for this. When I see them having difficulty with the serp tracks despite a lot of food for bait on the track, it makes me wonder if they really "know" how to track? When I have a really bad tracking experience like this, it puts me in a really, really bad mood. Clearly more skill is needed on my part to somehow remember or know where the track is if I want to run serp tracks.

From now on we will only run a serp track when I can clearly see it (heavy dew, frost...). Until then, we will continue on in our normal fashion.

Arlo navigating a serpentine track.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

ShowStopper Success Story

For a few years now, Cole has suffered from seasonal itchy skin and usually gets a few hot spots in the summer months. These were previously managed the usual way... clip the hair, keep the area clean and dry, and keep the dog's mouth away from the hot spot using an Elizabethan collar if necessary. The bacteria in the mouth do not belong on the skin, and can make any skin condition worse. Cole would usually spend a few weeks of every summer wearing an Elizabethan collar. I experimented with different diets, and with Cole also suffering from SIBO, I had to be careful when trying out a new food. I found a diet that agreed with his digestive system, and also did not produce any itching - for most of the year he was comfortable. However, come summer and the hot humid weather that is so typical of Ontario, he would always suffer from hot spots.

On the advice of Richard from ANR-Specialties, I decided to give the ShowStopper supplement a try for Cole. This supplement is not specifically marketed for relief of hot spots, however he was aware that the product had provided relief for many dogs suffering from hot spots and itchy skin. With the alternative for Cole likely being a need for antibiotics +/- some steroid therapy to control his itching / hot spots, I decided that we had nothing to loose trying this supplement. Richard did warn me that the cost may be a factor, as the supplement is not cheap. This did not deter me. I thought that if the supplement did in fact work, and Cole was able to live E-collar and itch free, then it would be well worth the price. I also liked the idea that perhaps his itching could be managed drug-free.

Being from a scientific, western medicine, veterinary background, I would have been very skeptical to try something like this in the past. I have learned though over the years, that sometimes you just have to give things a try... as long as there is no potential to cause harm, then trying things that have not been "scientifically proven" may just prove to be worth your while. Such was the case with the ShowStopper. I didn't expect to see any improvement in Cole's skin for at least a month. Well, within 2 weeks of starting the supplement, Cole was no longer itchy and his hot spots had healed and was living without his E-collar. If I didn't see it for myself I never would have believed it. On the advice of Richard, once we saw relief, we decreased his dose of the supplement to the lowest effective dose. It does not have any claim like this on the label, it was simply Richard's advice from past experience. Although Cole's labeled dose is 3 scoops per day, and up to 6 scoops per day, Cole is easily maintained on 2 scoops per day. And he loves the taste. The one down side to this supplement is weight gain. It is so high in fat, that Cole quickly gained weight. And, with him not being able to exercise properly because of his ongoing SLO, he bulked up in no time. I had to experiment with the portions of his food, as he is also on an energy dense food. As a young dog, we had tremendous trouble trying to keep weight on him. So, we quickly stabilized his energy intake, and although he is still a bit heavy, he is doing well.

The biggest improvement I saw with Cole would be with his skin and his coat. He was no longer itchy and his coat was beautiful, shiny, and better than it has ever been. This product also significantly reduces shedding. Once again, if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I never, ever would've believed that claim. There are so many products out there that claim to reduce shedding..... I thought they were all just marketing claims..... after all, many dogs have a double coat... Dogs SHED!!!! Especially Cole. He has a very typical GSD coat, heavy, double coat, with a lot of undercoat, and he was always a heavy sheddder even though he is a house dog and never really develops a true winter coat. Well, it is like a dramatic transformation.... he barely sheds at all now. Even when I brush him, the hair that comes out is negligible, unlike before when I could get mounds and mounds of undercoat out of him, enough to seemingly make another GSD. Those of you with shepherds who have coats like that will know exactly what I am talking about. It's so unbelievable, that I won't truly believe it until spring comes. This is when the shedding is usually the heaviest. I'll be sure to report back at that time. In the meantime, I plan to keep Cole on this supplement indefinitely, and although it is a bit pricey, I feel it is well worth it.

Below, Cole with his new, shiny coat.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Olympic's Emeril - Schutzhund 2

Arlo and me and his High SchH 2 trophy, 84, 77, 75. For full results, click Here

October 3rd & 4th 2009, the Durham Schutzhund Club hosted a fall trial with Judge Nikki Banfield, USA. I had entered Arlo in this trial just a week prior to the event, as although I had planned to enter a fall trial, Arlo had been ill the previous week due to ingesting large quantities of wood.... that's another story. Because of this, I was not sure he was feeling well enough to trial. It turned out he was feeling great, and our practice sessions at the Durham club really impressed me. It seemed that Arlo was finally able to transfer what he has learned to a new location much more easily now. Along with this and some great words of advice from training director Peter Lauder, I was feeling confident going into this trial. Overall, our performance was good. Leading up to the trial I struggled once again to overcome and control my nerves. My nerves got the better of me during the tracking phase, as for the first time that I can remember, the spectators were allowed to come down onto the tracking field. Every other trial I have attended or been entered in, the spectators were required to stay up on the road. They were very close to us, we were the last to track, there were many people there watching, some of whom have world level experience, and well..... this unsettled me. I'm sure my nervousness translated into Arlo's performance, as the conditions were outstanding, plush sod, lots of dew, no detectable wind, the track was visible.... he could have easily put in a 95+ point performance, but instead we ended up with 84. I am not going to complain about that, as he did very well considering my state of being. I had also lost some points due to a misunderstanding of the rules... once again, another story.

Leading up the obedience routine, I was feeling quite unwell... nausea, nervousness, panic! I really don't know why I get into this state of mind, Arlo is a very reliable OB dog, not a high scoring one, but quite predictable. Once we started working, I quickly settled into my "trial mind", "in the ring state", "in the zone".... I don't really know the correct term for this, but it happens almost always when I run agility, which is far more often than I enter a SchH trial. No matter what I am feeling or worried about waiting to go on the field, it all virtually disappears once my dog and I start working together as a team. All I see is my dog, me, and the judge. It's as if no one else is even there, I forget completely all about everyone else. It is a nice state of mind to be in. Arlo and I worked great together, and what a wonderful feeling being out there with my canine partner working as a team. We lost quite a few points on little things... things I admit, I have not worked on at all. I have since begun to work on those "little" things that turned into big point losses once added up, as I do intend to trial with Arlo again. Even though our score was quite low, I did get many comments from the spectators about how nice we looked out there together, including a "nice job in OB" from a 2-time WUSV competitor. But, my favourite comment was from the judge... in her critique, she said that it is obvious that the handler and the dog have an excellent working relationship together. :-)
Arlo did his best work for me, and that is all I can ever ask for.

The protection phase was the one I was most worried about. His bitework has progressively gotten less intense over the years, and this can certainly be attributed to his illness, however I just cannot be certain how much his illness contributes to his performance. However, he had worked great with the helper Jason at our practice sessions before the trial. He was actually more fired up than he has been in a while... a good sign. His protection routine in the trial was very flat, and I did loose a little bit of control a couple of times. I have been told that nervous handlers can have an adverse affect on a dog in trial, but it was difficult for me to tell how much this was an issue for him. We squeaked by with 75 points... a pass, but not enough to move on to a SchH 3 level. One must score minimum 80 points in the protection phase to be eligible to progress. So, we must try again if we want to move on. The following morning Arlo did have a fever of over 40 degrees Celsius, which could certainly have been a contributing factor to his level of intensity on the trial field. The day of the trial I saw no signs of him feeling ill, and I was very diligent to watch for these.

Overall, my experience was good, and I am happy I decided to enter. The judge Nikki Banfield was outstanding, super nice to the competitors, very fair, and very detailed in her critiques, which I found to be very helpful. I felt it was a privilege to have trialed under her. At the end of the trial, she told everyone that the dogs only know what we (the handlers) teach them, so if we are having training issues, then we are to go home and look in the mirror, as it is us and only us who are responsible for those. Then she told everyone to go home and hug their dogs. I think that message really hit home for a lot of people, as it is so true. Our dogs only know what we have taught them...

A big thanks to friends Graham and Josie for the great photos. My camera does not have a good zoom lens yet, but we will have one soon.

Heeling the "J" pattern.

Dumbbell throw over the jump

Retrieve over the frame

Long down

Waiting for our critique

Bark and hold, Jason Peter is the helper

Back transport

Setting up for the "out"

Judge Nikki Banfield after our protection routine critique congratulating Arlo and I on a successful SchH 2 title.

Fun shot after all the awards were handed out.... Josie caught this one of Arlo looking up at his trophy....

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mental Prep

As I once again prepare to trial one of my dogs, my mind is focused not so much on the physical abilities of my dog (I know he knows how to do it), but more so on my mental preparation. Mental prep is such a big part of our success in dog sports. So much so that I have become consumed with thoughts of how to improve my mental abilities before I compete so that I can "keep it together", so to speak, for my dog. I have unfortunately had years of practice "doing it badly", meaning that I have allowed my mind to negatively affect my performance with my dog. I think that proper mental preparation leading up to and during competitions is seriously lacking in my dog training circles. Sure I have lots of help teaching my dog how to indicate articles, how to do a send out, how to do a hold and bark, how to do weave poles, how to do front crosses... but I find that there seems to be very little opportunity around to discuss the importance of positive mental prep before a trial. This whole idea is becoming more and more popular, as I feel that poor mental prep before a trial affects quite a few people, and they are recognizing it and want to improve their mind's ability to deal with stress related to dogs sports. Many have researched on their own and found valuable resources to help improve their mental performance. I still feel that I am in the novice or beginner stage when it comes to learning about good mental preparedness for competition. And I am even further behind that when it comes to "practicing" good mental control at a competition. I have just had too many years practicing "bad mental behavior, thoughts, and images" that it has become a very, very hard habit to break... at least for me. I often refer to Susan Garrett's training blog, as she has some good ideas and words of wisdom. I am amazed at her ability to keep mentally focused and also her ability to "recover" after an upset in performance.

Here is one of my favourite posts from her blog... "How many of you lose your concentration partway through a run you when you are otherwise acing it? Likely it is a really important run, say the last leg of a double Q or a big qualifier or perhaps even a “finals” class. Things are going along swimmingly and then you let your “conscious mind” know how good you think you are doing. I have done it myself many times. When you allow your conscious mind to play a role in your run it will immediately say things to you like “wow, don’t screw up now” or “if you can just not make any errors you can go clean.” Once thoughts like that enter your head, your focus has been taken away from your run and more often than not it is difficult to get it back without a “hiccup” in the run. That hiccup can be your downfall, that is when you are out of position or cue a turn incorrectly and disaster flows." from this page of her blog, .

I have done this particular thing to myself many times, and subsequently blew what was otherwise a clean run, usually near the end, with only 2 or 3 obstacles left on the course. Mental prep and performance is so important to our success in dog sports, I'm surprised that more attention is not paid to this critical aspect of success. Perhaps it comes more naturally to others and they are able to master it with little help? Perhaps they feel that experience alone will eventually correct the problems? I don't really know what the answer is, but being relatively new to the dog sports world I feel that I myself need some help and coaching in the mental prep department. Especially as my dogs progress in their respective disciplines and move on to higher levels of competition, I am finding it increasingly more difficult to harness and control my thoughts surrounding a competition.

More on this later... Now I move on to researching ways to improve my skills at mental control.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wallace Payne & Pedro - 2007 North American FH Champion

I am sure this video has been well watched by many in the Schutzhund world, but I came across it just recently in a round about way. I have heard of Wallace Payne, but I was really not that familiar with him. I was on a tracking blog, and his name was mentioned... The name rang a bell for me, but it was not immediately apparent who he is. With the beauty of the internet, he was just a few clicks away. Needless to say, this video speaks for itself. Pedro does an "off-leash" 99 point FH track. It is spectacular. For the untrained eye, it may just appear that the dog is merely... "tracking". To those of us who actively train and compete in the sport, we are awed by Pedro, and even more so that this entire track is done off leash, with no communication from Wallace. Even though when we trial, we are not allowed to "help" our dogs via the tracking line, there is still an element of communication that goes on there between dog and handler. Even subtle changes to the tension in the line can affect the dog. Here is the link for this amazing track:

And here is Wallace's website:

This style of tracking is what we are all striving for in schutzhund...


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Olympic's Zorro, TD - CKC Tracking Dog Title

Myself, CKC tracking judge Dawn Sanderson, and trial secretary Pando Stepanis at Tersha Kennels. I was accepting Eros' plaque, ribbon, and his tracking map from the judge after the test.

We were at Tersha Kennels in Thorndale, near London, Ontario today for a CKC tracking test. The test was hosted by the German Shepherd Dog Club of London. Tersha Kennels is the home of CKC judges Sharon Smith and the late Terry Smith. I was very pleased to be a part of this test, as those hosting the test are good friends. It was also that much more special, as it was a great way to honor Terry's memory by participating in a tracking trial at his home club. His presence could be felt all around, and I knew he would be proud.

After Arlo passed his TD test in June of this year, I decided to give it a try with Eros. Eros is not as confident in tracking yet as Arlo, but I had quite a few weeks to prepare, plus access to many different practice fields. Additionally, I had the help of my club members to help with laying "stranger" tracks and articles for Eros. I was feeling very confident about Eros' skills going in to this test. The other issue for us here in Ontario is that there are relatively few opportunities to enter tracking tests, and when one is offered, there are so few spaces available. One often has to try entering many times to actually get a chance to run their dog in a tracking test. I felt I had to take the opportunity when it was available.

There were 4 TD tracks today, with 3 of the 4 dogs passing. The tracks were laid on alfalfa. It was a sunny day, with moderate temperatures, and moderate winds. The field was dewy, but the track was not at all visible to the handlers. It was a great lesson in "trusting your dog"... I did not know where the track went, I could not see it, so I had to trust my dog. Eros did have a bit of trouble with the wind, and he circled at two of his corners, but after a bit of searching (which felt like an eternity when out there) he found the track again and carried on confidently. He found the article at the end without difficultly, and indicated clearly. I was very, very proud of him.

Now the option is available to us to train for the higher level tracking tests, and I do want to work towards these titles with both dogs. Happy Tracking Everyone!

Myself, Eros, and judge Dawn Sanderson after Eros passed his test. Dawn is holding Eros' plaque and ribbon, and Eros' glove is on the ground at his feet.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Doggie Fun in the Sun

Blaze, having fun.

There is a river not far from our house that we occasionally take the dogs to for some water play. I had not been for a while, as the last time I went we were constantly dive bombed by large biting insects, and I came home with a leech on my toe..... a couple of really good reasons not to go back! I decided recently to check out the river at another location up stream a little bit. This part of the river has a very wide open bank with few large trees, and faster flowing water that was clear and clean. There were no blood thirsty insects, and so far, no leeches! It is not the same as a beautiful lake, but it does provide some water fun, and it is deep enough in places for the dogs to swim.

Blaze diving after his toy.
Blaze swimming with his toy, he loves to retrieve...
Two very wet German Shepherds... Blaze on the left looking up, and Tito on the right, both waiting for the "throw"...
Double retrieve... Tito on the left, Blaze on the right.
Double retrieve... love this photo.
Blaze splashing through the water.
Blaze with his toy.
Double splash. Tito on the left, Blaze on the right.
Blaze swimming.
Tito on the left, Blaze on the right.
Double retrieve... Tito at the back, Blaze at the front.
Tito. Tito is by far our most confident swimmer. You could easily say he may have had a little TOO much fun here. This was his first time swimming.
Tito... big splash!
Tito going after his stick...
Tito splashing!
Tito with his very large stick.
Tito... no fear.
Mika contemplating...
Mika going in the deep end.
Mika biting the water, she loves the water!
Mika, the big shake!
Mika swimming.
Mika getting her stick, love the water flick from her tail.
Mika biting the water.
Mika with her stick.
Cole going after the toy that is getting carried away by the current.
Cole splashing after his toy.
Cole retrieving.
Cole. You can see the clear water in this photo.