I took the dogs out for one final practice.... Shakespeare's track had an ugly section where he seemed to lost the straight line, and then he did okay. Indicated both articles, even did corners. I'd really helped him on the first corner, laying strategic treats in the footprints, but the second he did largely on his own. That was more impressive because I'd been distracted while laying (by a couple turning their young dog loose in the park!) and hadn't given a lot of help in the track or on the line.
Laev, on the other hand, did an ugly track. I'd laid a TON of food, trying to do a last minute reminder that slow, focused tracks were good! but she tracked right over most of it. Struggled on the first corner after a long leg because she was going fast, then settled down and worked the zig-zags in a semi-decent fashion. The shocker, though, was that she skipped both articles until I stopped her! Laev's article indication has typically been very good. I'm calling that an obligatory dress rehearsal failure, because otherwise I'd be stressing big time.
Then we went to do obedience. Man, I love this dog, even to almost forgiving her article mistakes. She tried so hard for me today. It was cold -- in the twenties, with pretty steady 15 mph wind, according to the weather. I don't know what the wind chill was, but I can tell you, it was cold! I left Laev in a down to practice the honor, and when I returned, one side of her face was decorated with snowflakes, while the other was black and Doberman-like. She was shivering, so we played tug to reward and warm up. Then we practiced our obedience routine.
She was not quite as dazzling in her heelwork as I know she can be, but it looked good enough. The awesome part, though, came during the retrieves. I sent her over the wall and waited -- I always wait nervously, I hate not being able to see my dog -- for her to come back over it. Instead, I saw her appear to the left of the wall, having picked up the dumbbell and returned to one side. Before I could even react, however, she froze, glanced up at the wall, and then BACKED UP and leapt at the wall! I didn't think she'd have the angle or momentum to make it, but she came over it with the dumbbell!
I didn't wait for a sit-front, I just started cheering her good decision and reinforced right away. Turkey hearts, today. Raw turkey hearts. (I'd been stretching for long periods between reinforcements, so I wanted it to be good!)
Note: Raw turkey hearts in a bag in the pocket can make quite a mess if the bag happens to invert inside the pocket during heelwork. Note also: freshly defrosted raw turkey hearts are COLD when the blood and juice runs down the inside of one's coveralls and saturates one's jeans all the way to the ankle.
Anyway, Laev had a good time with the turkey hearts.
We have one final issue. I've been working really hard on dropping her, so that we didn't risk leaving the field during the sendaway in search of critters. The woods at the end of the field is just full of squirrels and rabbits! What I discovered today, though, is that Laev isn't expecting a long sendout, but hesitating in anticipation of the platz. I should be able to work through this easily enough, but not on less than a day's notice :) so I just sent her further down the field to a target. I hope she doesn't stop when she doesn't see the target tomorrow!
Still, I'd rather take the point loss for an early platz than the utter failure of her leaving the field, and she hasn't offered to do that again lately. So here's hoping....