May 12, 2009

Chasing the Creek like a Animal

More on the new dog, Fisher. I decided to take him down to the "swimming hole" yesterday afternoon. Piled up branches and rocks (reinforced by the neighbors) make a tiny swimming hole, enough for the dogs to paddle around and make a very short water retrieve. I thought that Fisher might like to try it.


I let him off his leash, and he dove in and swam to the other side. Then he swam to the dam. Then he scrambled over the dam. And he was off downstream--swimming, running, being swept through white water.

And barking all the time--not a panic bark, but a bark as though he were chasing something, in hot pursuit.

I was the panicked one. Was he going to go for miles? I scrambled back up to the county road and walked/jogged downstream. The creek was below my line of sight, but I could hear the barks echoing up its banks.

I went about a tenth of a mile downstream to an irrigation diversion, where I knew I could get down to the water. There he was, a little above me, splashing in a pool.

Clinging to vines and boulders, I worked my way up to him and waded out in the knee-deep water to grab him. Back on shore, I snapped his leash to his collar. Fisher just wanted to get back in the water, but I had had enough aquatic drama for one afternoon. And my shoes and jeans were soaked.

So today we are going to some ponds. They are an old gravel quarry. The banks are gently sloped, and there are no underwater obstructions. He can swim until he is exhausted, if that is what it takes.

His previous owner said that he had swum in Steamboat Lake and enjoyed it, but I do not think that he has had much water experience. We will have to change that.

To think that when I had my first Chessie puppy twenty years ago I worried whether he would take to water (he did). This one seems to have months and months of pent-up water lust in him.


mdmnm said...

Scary to have a new dog you haven't bonded with off-leash and around distractions for the first time.

Poor guy, backyard and no training, let alone exposure to woods and water. His life just got a serious upgrade-wooohooo! Creek!

Nice looking dog, too.

Chas S. Clifton said...

The pond experience did not go as well as I had hoped. He turns into a total fruitcake in the water, swimming in aimless circles and barking.

I think we will have to start water retrieves in very small, shallow places -- sloughs, flooded fields, etc. -- with short, short retrieves and him on a check cord.

mdmnm said...

Ah, yes, the old friend "check cord". Sounds like you guys will have a lot of work ahead of you. Maybe he'll calm down with more exposure or once he realizes that birds are more interesting than water.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Apparently this "water-freaking" is a known issue with some Chessies. I talked to the breeder-trainer who mediated the adoption, and she explained how to deal with it -- pretty much what I had already decided -- lots of obedience and a focus on working in the water as opposed to being over-amped in the water.

Unknown said...

This sounds like my dog!!! Off the leash, everything is more interesting than me. She runs until she is exhausted and then "lets" me come and get her. Many a time I have had to chase her as she runs down the beach after an imaginary creature. Good luck!