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Saturday, 5 April 2014

The Importance of Time - Izzy Update

It's been a while since I last wrote a Blog! It's been really busy here at 'Puppy Towers' over the past few months, so I've not really had chance to sit down & pen a Blog - although I did draft one up whilst we were last at our second home - Moddershall Oaks.

One of the big reasons I started Blogging was to help us keep a bit of a memory about what we've been upto with our pups, so it was great to spend a bit of time reading the Blogs I did when we first had Izzy.

One of things that's really hard to believe is that we haven't even had Izzy for 12 months - yet it seems like she's been here forever!

Yes we are talking about you!
Reflecting on our previous Blogs is a great way for us to see how far we've come & it's been so great to remember what Izzy was like when we first got her. It's always easy to forget things. Last week we were putting some photo's of Mambo together for his handler & it's great looking back at what we did with Mambo & watching the videos of him growing up. Photo's are funny - we take hundreds (actually we've got 1000's) of photo's of all sorts of things but you never actually get them out & look back at them.

So having skimmed through the Blogs about Izzy, it's really proven to us just how important time is.

I'm not big on 'testing' dogs - especially young dogs & I don't always agree with things I hear about dog's being 'unsuitable'. I've done my own little experiments with puppy testing - albeit on a very minute scale!

Ozzy at 8 weeks old

I've taken a dog - Mad Ozzy - who was the 'strongest' pup in the litter and I've also taken on the 'weakest' dog in a litter - Little Mambo. A lot of people would have 'written off' Mambo because he struggled on the Volhard testing, yet Ozzy performed really well on the Volhard test & was head & shoulders above his litter mates.

As I say, I'm not big on this 'testing' - I think it's a reasonable starting point but to write a dog completely off at 5/6 weeks to me is bonkers. Mambo would have been written off by some people & deemed unsuitable as a Police Dog - yet he's probably a much better all round Police Dog than Ozzy is.

Little Mambo

The same goes for Izzy. Had Izzy have been 'tested' when we had her at 5 months old, some people would have completely written her off as being suitable for Police Dog work, yet 10 months down the line we've got people itching to take her.

As I always say, I'm not saying I'm right & others are wrong - it's just my opinion. I think people are sometimes too quick to write dogs off as being 'unsuitable' especially with young dogs under 10 months old.

Izzy couldn't be anymore different to how she was when we collected her! She's come on so well & I'd say she's actually the best puppy we've had - & that doesn't come easy! We've had some awesome pups through Puppy Towers, who've all gone on to become fully operational Police Dogs.

Baby Izzy

Looking back over my first few Blogs when we had Izzy, I'd said the following . . . . . 

"We’ve really struggled with over the past week is her playing with a toy & her environmental groundwork"

"Her toy playing has been a real challenge this week"

"I've packed up our kit in the middle of a session & headed home wondering where on earth we're going to go or what on earth we're going to do next"

"Slowly but surely we're seeing signs of improvement & there are little glimpses in her that actually give me confidence that she has in fact 'got a bit about her'"

"I'd built myself up for having this massively high drive, intense, real handful of a dog - only to find when Izzy arrived that she wasn't any of the above"

"She was distracted, unfocused & just not really that into her toy."

"I'm hoping that by the time we get married in April she'll be up to speed & ready for a course if she was needed"

Oh how things change!!

Izzy in the Main Arena at Crufts

It makes me chuckle now, thinking back to the times in the park where I threw her toy & she just completely ignored it. 

We've been really pleased - no actually, delighted! - with the way she has progressed & she now has all of the necessary attributes needed to go on to become an operational police dog.

Hopefully those who saw her at Crufts will agree too!

We have a great relationship with the instructors at WMP & we've been able to get out on a few little training days here & there with them to help develop Izzy's work. We do lots of training on our own, but being able to expose the pups to the more practical & scenario based training is invaluable to their development. It also means that when the pups hit an initial licensing course, they've already experienced lots of the things involved in a course.

We aim to give our pups the foundation, so that when they hit an initial course it's not a matter of them learning the exercises from scratch. Hopefully their handlers can just concentrate on turning them into real police dogs.

Izzy's bite work

We've done lots of practical based tracking with Izzy, a little bit of bite suit work, basic building searches - just things that will help make an initial licensing course go smoothly.

We're really grateful to everyone who helps us with our pups. Being able to get out on courses is a real benefit & everyone's always so accommodating for us. I'm always mithering to get out with them! 

Having a fresh set of eyes on Izzy is always invaluable to her development too. I always encourage people to get their working dog in front of lots of different trainers. The input from different people is invaluable in making your dog the best it can be. I know some trainers are very protective over the dogs & handlers they train, but for me everyone should be striving to raise the bar. The only way you can ever do so, is by taking on feedback & trying new things.

I absolutely detest, with a passion the "We've always done it this way" brigade!! It happens in every single walk of life & it drives me insane!!!!!! 

Baby Izzy

So . . . the big question & one we are now getting asked all the time . . . . how long have you got Izzy for?

The answer is, we really don't know!

We'd always planned on making sure Izzy was ready by the time we got married in April and in essence it's mission accomplished. She's more than ready to progress in her career.

However, one thing I really want to do is to try & get Izzy upto speed for the BPSCA Trials in July. I might even enter a few little obedience competitions with her too if I get time.

We're up against it a little bit because she'll be in kennels for 4 weeks whilst we're away on our honeymoon, so we'll only have around 4-6 weeks once we're back to get her ready for the trials. 

Izzy property search at Crufts

For the majority of the exercises she'll be fine i.e property searches, bite work & heel work, however we've also got the agility course to try & master. So as soon as she's back & out of kennels we've got some serious work to get in, in order to get her upto speed & able to get round the agility course.

Naturally we haven't done much agility work because of her age. It's important not to put too much stress on a puppy's legs & joints in the early years. We'll literally be starting from scratch!

Izzy agility basics

Although that's our plan, you can never guarantee things will work out that way. As we found out with Sear, we had the phone call to say he was needed & the next day he was on an initial course! Hopefully though everything works out! 

We'll do the BPSCA trials, maybe a couple of obedience comps & then it'll be time for D-Day. 

That's if we don't try & buy her to keep . . . . . .

Izzy posing