Yesterday I was working with Tilley and her rehab. A big part of it has now been having her go back to her first love; catching and retrieving. The chase and catch are the parts she loves best; this alone made her a phenominal frisbee dog. Although it is sad to see her lack of ability now with her vestibular disease; it is uplifting to see that none of her enthusiasm is gone.
I love to shoot action; after dogs my second favorite subject is movement. When my son was in football I shot every game and I couldn't wait to get home to see what I'd caught. When you shoot action you reap the benefits; amazing views that you would never have seen otherwise. Stopping action in it's tracks with dogs opens up a whole other world of dissecting behaviors.
So while I was playing ball with the dogs I decided to shoot some action at the sametime. I started with Tilley; for this I asked for the assistance of my son. I asked him to throw the ball as I shot. In the photo of her (grey poodle) you can see that she starts out on track and as her head lowers she looses her grip. You can see that she is struggling to keep her footing by her tail coming out to help in her balance. Because of her equilibrium issues she has a very difficult time when she is required to lower her head. Things like going downstairs, eating or retrieving a ball give her a challenge.
You can also see that in the images of Tilley; she slows down considerably as she approaches the ball. This because she has learned she no longer has the ability to stop on a dime. It is the final stage of picking up the ball where she has the most difficulty and she must be moving very slowly to achieve it. Also if you notice the ear position in the middle Tilley. It is slight but because of her loss of balance at this point her ears are no longer completely frontwards in the direction of her prey.
For Luke's images I decided to attempt to capture a catch. Not so easy; I was throwing with my left hand and catching the image with my right. My camera is very heavy so these are pretty good considering. A dog's eye never leaves their target; their whole body changes while their focus remains. Even after taking so many action shots I was still surprise to see just how wide he opens his mouth and how far back the ball goes on the initial catch.
Luke never left his position; to show you the sequence I had to move the images to the right a tad. But the last image where he is coming down from the catch; his back feet were still where he had been sitting. I have taught all my dogs to catch; it is a good behavior you can fall back on for many things. But it is important for them to not only know how to catch but to understand what catch means. This clears away any confusion as to chasing or catching an item.