During this dry spell of posting, Carly has been grounded for the last couple weeks or so. She was flying much too far afield, exploring the neighborhood out of my sight range, and making friends “without supervision.” I did not want a repeat of the Case of the Red-Headed Guy. We’ve been very lucky that incidents like these have involved concerned and honest people.
We had many changes in the last couple months, including Hugh’s birds leaving and 3 new birds of mine arriving. Her behavior didn’t change overnight, but after awhile it felt like she’d lost almost everything we’d worked for, in terms of having a good response and being able to fly outdoors in a way that is up to my safety standards. I finally realized that if I looked objectively at her behavior, indoors and out, without knowing her history of freeflight, my training recommendation would be to work on indoor recall only, and get it into a very firm routine once again. (When her recall was good, our flying routine had become walks/flies at the beach, not any kind of disciplined practice. Bad idea.) In other words, go almost back to square one. As Cynthia pointed out, flying off down the beach was not setting her up for success; so we went back as far as necessary to ensure that sessions were both successful and fun. It was surprisingly startling to come to this realization; I had to focus only on what she was presenting, not what I knew she could do. (Hmm… does Sid or someone have a post on a similar subject somewhere?)
So we spent a few weeks doing re-training, while Piper has been learning the ropes. I will write more details in subsequent posts, but today I just wanted to report that she is back in the air again! A beach outing in which she stayed within a comfortable distance, juked and dove and hollered, but didn’t do any runners down the beach to check out the tourists. Didn’t even gaze longingly. I seriously wondered if we could ever do that again. It is really a shock to see things become “untrained.”
More details on what she, Piper, and especially I have been learning coming soon.
P.S. I am opening the blog up to comments, so feel free to post questions or remarks below. [UPDATE: and you can now do so without being subscribed and logged in.]