Stumptown

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The Stumptown trial ended up going pretty well, I was pleased to see Haku’s performance in Utility was much better on day two. Just a tad short on go-out number one, but nice and all the way on number two. Didn’t then wait for me to actually cue a jump after that sit, but, hey – one issue at a time. Nailed his articles this time too, making REALLY sure before bringing me the right one. Pretty much typical ‘high’ Haku issues, had to give a double command on gloves because he did not pivot with me to two but was entranced on glove #1. Just goofy stuff where he’s half focused, half not, but happy and having a good time. And once again coming to heel instead of front on his signals – so that’s two days in a row, so need to look at that.

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We fumbled our way to another Open Q, with some goofiness – but it wasn’t all my fault! The judge forgot the heeling pattern and I was all ready to explode into my fast when he called a slow instead – my brain exploded. We just went back and redid that section, but that was funny. Dumbbell pickups were okay, but an improvement. His gives were better on Sunday too. Fronts were, as usual, all over the place – but especially when it involves jumping in public, I realize his terrible angles when landing make it very difficult, especially when he’s high.

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Proud of Haku for working so hard in that environment, he may have been high, but he was totally with me and having a good time. Because of the weather he was inside in a crate in the middle of it all the whole time – and he handled it really well. The crazy things we ask our dogs to do – and some dogs, like Haku, make it seem easy.

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I always come back from trials with the thought that I really should actually train my dog. I know we’ll never have a great deal of precision, Haku doesn’t do ANYTHING with precision, but we can do better than we do at trials. We’ll only improve if we actually work on it though. Shocking thought. I’d love to have solid runs in competition where I actually felt like we were doing what we’re capable of. I don’t think that’s really happened, at least not in Open and Utility. Obedience practice in new public spaces – this is our goal.

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Have really been enjoying my trick classes this summer, such fun classes. Bonus being that gives me the excuse to train tricks to my guys – tricks are so fun! Not sure how I had never taught Bright to hold things before, that was fun to use her as a demo dog. I’ll have to do some three dog hold pictures soon. We’ve done all sorts of little things that I just have never trained before – and it’s really fun. And some fabulous trick dogs in classes – very inspiring!

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We’ve been doing more hiking now that we’re on summer break from agility. Rainforests are just not as pretty in the summer – they need the rain to really shine. In the winter the dogs had to be hosed down from all the mud, and now they have to be brushed out from all the seeds – where was the inbetween? Navarre’s favorite part is the swimming afterwards BY FAR. He’s a swimming maniac. Haku enjoys his swimming, but he’s ready for a break after a bit – but not Navarre. And Bright just sits in the water, just a bobbing head. Still, getting warmer, we have to get out there early to avoid the heat.

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We still play at the park as well, but less so – they can overheat so quickly running around there. We miss the cooler weather, when the dogs can run forever. Still, it’s almost August – and September is the nice downhill slide into Fall. Until then, we’re doing our best to enjoy summer, it has it’s perks.

 

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Happy Birthday Haku!

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By a happy coincidence Haku’s 8th birthday also happens to be a special Haku weekend at the obedience trial. Haku enjoys his one-on-one time more than the other dogs, whom he tolerates, but you can tell he’s always thought they were beneath him. I think Fenwick was the only dog he ever really respected. He likes Bright well enough, but even then, he totally looks down at her.

Can’t believe Haku is 8! Such a special puppy he was, and still so special now. Such an easy and unique bond we’ve had, since day one. Didn’t make training easy, still doesn’t, but when it comes to being totally comfortable with each other, that’s my Haku. And the things he will do for me, he would move the moon if he could.

Certainly Haku has no trouble with crazy environments, trial was at the expo center today, and while I heard that this trial was less busy than the Rose City Cluster, I didn’t find that to be true at all. We very much enjoyed the a/c though, got up to 95 today – summer is here. So clean, indoor, air conditioned fun is much appreciated.

As expected, Haku was pretty goofy for our first go in the ring, Utility early in the morning. Stopping short on his go-outs, not even trying fronts, coming to straight to heel on his recall signal, and messing up his articles. And more! But he was having fun, he likes the busy environment. Things went better for Open, I had a lot more dog – probably helped we played at the practice ring inbetween. I’ll be curious to see if his go-outs are better tomorrow after our practice.

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We even got to do a run-off for first place! Which was another great opportunity to reward nice heeling immediately after. We really should go to some fun matches, I know that trialing is eroding his behaviors – but I haven’t been inspired. Obedience has been fun to train, but it’s not my passion. I love having something to do with Haku, but we have just been enjoying the journey. Now we’re actually supposed to just go DO IT. You know, reasonably well and consistently.

Bright and Haku are in the same place, they’re SUPPOSED to be trained at this point, and we’re supposed to be, well, just doing it. Bright and her MACH (I think she needs 8 more double Qs?), Haku and his PUDX (needs 7 more obedience double Qs). Ah, the AKC consistency quest – proof that you can do the same thing over and over again.

I don’t really care if they get either one. I love just running agility (and so does Bright!), so I imagine at some point Bright will get her MACH (I find it funny that many dogs are at MACH 10 by her age). I don’t love obedience though, I like the training, but let me say I am not excited to get up in the morning and go to an obedience trial. I don’t hate it, I mean, I get to go play with my dog and do things together – we like that part. Obedience is an excuse to do that, I suppose. I like having something special that Haku and I do together, but we already did the things I wanted to see if we could do in obedience. I have no grand ambitions to be GOOD at obedience, because you have to have a passion for it, not just hanging out with your dog.

Still, Haku won preferred high in trial today! I had to figure out what that was, as we biffed Utility I was a bit confused. But I guess we had the highest score out of the performance qualifiers today with our Open score. Funny how I continue to be baffled by obedience traditions. So they had both high in trial, and high in trial combined – is that normal? I don’t know – as far as I can tell they just make up random categories depending on the trial. They like to give you a lot of ribbons in obedience. And they get cranky if you’re not there to get your ribbons. I’ll have to say, I love the preferred classes, I feel right at home.

And, look, I got multiple views of our Open run today – bonus of being at a busy trial, no lack of videographers!  I’ll give you a hint, the highlight is at the end where I have to fight Haku for the dumbbell. This was actually a pretty mild argument, compared to some down and dirty wrestling matches we’ve had in competition. Not Haku’s best dumbbell performance, but he’s most definitely been worse.

And look what I found at the trial today!

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Doesn’t that sign just look like it was made for Fizban? So cool!

Seminar!

I’m not entirely certain, but I don’t think I’ve been to a seminar since the Justine seminar last year. It’s been a busy year. Turned out to be just a lovely weekend with perfect weather, beautiful property, fun people, and lots of fun agility. The dogs did great, Bright was on her best behavior, only one tiny ‘blonde moment’, and even then I think I’m the only one that noticed. Navarre was also a star, including running for Tammy once, which he’s never done before (as I wanted to get pictures of him!). Was hilarious, for whatever reason he was just barking and sassing at her when they were running, and then afterwards she took him to cool down and he still would not shut up. Running with Tammy makes for one loud Navarre, apparently – but they did great together!

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I was really happy with the dogs’ skills, when Bright is not being an airhead she is still so easy to run – and she really was on her best behavior over the weekend. And Navarre was not being too wide and goofy, but a very good baby dog. We just ran jumps and tunnels for the exercises in this seminar, which is where the handling happens, so that’s nice. I like the Justine stuff, it suits me very well, and I think it makes complicated courses very straightforward. So many seminars in the past was all about getting that exact right timing, too little and the dog would pull off, too much and the dog went wide – with trained cues you have so much more room for error, I can just focus on moving down the line.

So the big takeaway from the weekend for me was Justine describing her handling as a ‘chase based system’, which I had never heard her refer to it in that way before. And obviously having the trained cues lets the handler stay ahead. The realization was in my placement of rewards. I’ve been rewarding almost exclusively with a thrown toy, for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that it’s the laziest method to reward and the dogs really enjoy it. However, what is my biggest issue with Navarre? Going wide, running around things, and it was quite clear on one of the proofing exercises that he does not consider ‘chasing me’ to be the goal of agility. Which is not surprising, this is the dog that thought restrained recalls were stupid even as a puppy. So we rewarded with what he likes when he was a puppy, and we did a LOT of frisbee rollers. Away from me. And we DO tug all the time … when he brings me back the toy. So take away, I need to go back to that foundation behavior and reward chasing me, not throwing the toy – oh so hard to break that habit.

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Navarre is growing up, and he is more flexible with toys than he used to be, but what he has really liked the most, by far, is frisbees. He doesn’t like balls, he doesn’t like squeaky toys – well, I mean, he will play with them, but not with nearly the same interest. However, for whatever reason, the dog that doesn’t like balls or squeaky toys became infatuated with Hi-Fi’s red squishy squeaky ball, to the extent that he wanted it OVER THE FRISBEE. This is huge – and unheard of! And so weird. And apparently they don’t sell those balls anymore – ha! So that was interesting to see that change in him, and he was all kind of confused about his toys at the seminar, as he’s the sort of dog that will stop working to go find the ‘correct’ toy if he feels you didn’t bring the right one. As we were using frisbee, tugging frisbee, draggy toy and new red ball – he’s tiny brain was confused as to which one he wanted at any given moment.

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So that was the last of our agility, we’re now on summer break until the Summer Cup. Looking forward to tricks and hiking and trips to the beach. Next weekend is Special Haku Weekend as we’re off to an obedience trial. Though I think he thought last weekend was Special Haku Weekend already, he got to stay home with Heidi – and he LOVES playing with Heidi. Bright and Navarre were, of course, good travelers on our trip. I just take it for granted these days, I’m so spoiled with these easy dogs.

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Funny story, the other day I was teaching and someone casually mentioned that my dogs were so well trained I didn’t even need to shut their crates. Whoops, apparently I had put Haku and Bright in their crates in the car and didn’t shut the doors, but they stayed in there anyway for an hour before I knew about it. And this was down in Brooks, so they could see and hear the agility going on, but they are such good dogs they just stayed in there, patiently waiting.

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Knock on wood, no more issues with Navarre’s shoulder. We had been taking it easy all around, which has been driving Haku slowly insane – and made everyone really fat (as I didn’t change their food intake). But we’ve done enough since then without any issues that I feel we can go back to full activity again. All the dogs will be very happy.

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Sweaty

Well, summer achievement number one unlocked – we survived the July trial. Keeping in mind that apparently it got up to a whopping 80 degrees today up there, it felt SO HOT. Certainly as hot as I want to be. Sunlight is my nemesis, that’s for sure. It’s this time of year that I really hate FAST, even now that it’s ‘combined’, it takes forever and uses up all the nice cool morning hours. I so hate FAST, I don’t like watching it, I don’t like running it, and it annoys me greatly that it makes days SO LONG. I hate it less in the winter though.

Trial went well today, standard was a little more interesting than yesterday, and jumpers, well, that was about as complicated as I had the energy for in the afternoon heat. Navarre was so much better about the sightseeing, no ridiculously wide turns today, no running around jumps as he waved to the leashrunner – just a nice baby dog doing good work. Contacts continued to look good, great weaves with distance in standard, no foolishness on the table – he CAN do the things, when the brain is there. Two Excellent legs today, which means he needs one more of each to compete with Bright for real.

Bright in jumpers today: 25.36 – Navarre: 25.41 – so close!

Bright standard: 38.22 – Navarre: 39.97 – getting there!

Navarre has better ground speed and stride length, but he loses it all with the wide turns and his weaves are not as fast either.

So, yes, Bright got another double Q today, which for her is crazy consistent. Nothing weird at all, she was super happy and having a great time. All the dogs enjoyed playing in the kiddie pool, and I enjoyed the free ice cream sandwiches courtesy of PAC. A fun trial, the dogs enjoyed the ‘take what’s in front of you’ feel of AKC. I still don’t know what the heck I do all day at trials, somehow I continue to feel like I’m super busy the entire day, but I have no earthly idea why.

Look, a video!

Last Hurrah

Any trial in July can be iffy, and Ridgefield is like an oven when it gets hot. I was thinking it was getting so hot this afternoon … it was 77. Heh. Yeah, Summer trialing, it’s not for me. I wanted to do a last hurrah with the dogs before Summer break though, and we did have fun.

I am in sort of a funky place with all the dogs right now, we’re not necessarily working on anything new, but in a holding pattern. Haku needs ‘double qs’ in obedience, Bright needs ‘double qs’ in agility and Navarre just need to be a baby and grow up. So they’re all doing, well, what they have been doing. And there are things I COULD work on, like working precision with Haku’s obedience, attempting to fix Bright’s running contacts or taking Navarre to fun matches to reward in the ring for focus. I COULD go do those things, but I probably won’t. Haku doesn’t enjoy working on precision, Bright is going to do what Bright is going to do at this point, and Navarre will grow up when he’s ready. Which doesn’t mean we can’t still have fun, but I always enjoy the process more than just ‘running agility’ or ‘doing obedience’, which is where I feel we are at this point.

Lots of good stuff at the trial, Navarre gets the gold star for contacts today with 2 great teeters, and a fabulous dogwalk and aframe. Bright actually got a double Q. Courses were nothing exciting, just straightforward AKC. Premier had a funky straight line exit that was interesting, we attempted it one way, requiring a rear cross which Bright didn’t read (shocking, I know!). She also dropped the triple.

Navarre was sightseeing like crazy, so wide as he would be gazing out and around at every turn, waving to his fans, checking out the universe. Sometimes I forget that he’s not Bright and don’t cue things correctly, but he was going super wide when there was no other equipment even in sight. Still managed a T2B Q, and standard he dropped a bar and fell out of his weaves. Jumpers he was more connected and with me, working hard … and then ran around the last jump because he was waving at the leash runner – ARRGH. And I got frustrated, which I shouldn’t, he’s just a baby. It’s much easier if he’s a baby the WHOLE run instead of at the last jump though.

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Such a dorky puppy, but, yes, still very much a puppy – and will be for some time. When we practice we often have people coming in getting ready for classes, and I don’t get the same behavior at all – it’s just a trial exposure thing. Navarre has always been a very outwardly focused boy. Though, let it be said, he did such a nice job running through tricks outside the ring waiting for his turn – he really is such a fun trick dog as he learns so methodically. With my trick classes this summer I imagine we’ll be working on lots of new stuff as he will get to be guinea pig. I love tricks, and having good excuses to train more tricks!

Oh, and Haku did some go-outs at the practice jump area – and after coming up short a couple times he was back to his good behavior.  Which is kind of the theme at the moment, he’s needing a couple ‘questions’ before he does it. Which isn’t super helpful for actually competing, so we’ll keep working on it. Also need to work on some glove pivots in novel environments, I have not felt really secure with this in competition either. Love my Haku, such a good boy.

Lucked out yet again with some BEAUTIFUL weather for hiking this week. Overcast and like 65, which is just nuts for July. Went with Linda’s terriers, wasn’t sure how that would go. Bright, Super Bitch, found them completely inoffensive. Tucker was actually HUMPING HER and she did tell him off, but even then, none of her normal displays of bitchness. Can’t explain that one. And Navarre, who got to play with Mable quite a bit when he was growing up, just wanted them to race and run with him – and they had no interest. Heh. Keeping in mind that Tucker is like a year younger than Navarre, but Navarre was the ‘youngest’ one there by far. Dorky puppy indeed.

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Aftermath

There are still a few fireworks going off tonight, but, in general, I’m calling Hubbard not too patriotic – it’s been relatively mild in the fireworks department. Navarre ended up doing surprisingly well. When we first started hearing fireworks last week he was pretty worried, would go hide in the bathroom, very concerned. I figured that would get worse as the noise escalated, but, this year at least, it didn’t happen.

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I had bought him a thundershirt and an anxiety supplement in preparation (he didn’t like the New Years fireworks either), and I think they both helped. It’s also possible that the supplement may have been the equivalent of doggie viagra to Navarre – it took me a bit to connect the two, as I had to actually put him in a crate at night as he was whining and obsessively grooming cats all night long. That did start pretty much when I started giving him the pills at night. Still, it only helped distract him, so, hey. Hopefully he will come out of his current horny funk, as he was actually literally peeing on poor little Pixel this week – and not accidentally.

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But I think being surrounded by dogs not concerned about fireworks is helpful, so when we were at Anne’s on the 4th there were a few loud ones, which concerned him, but didn’t freak him out with all the other dogs there as they didn’t care. And at home that evening Heidi and Dove were there, which was also a nice distraction to have. So lots of tugging and playing when the fireworks went off.

So he still doesn’t like the fireworks, but I was worried we would have a meltdown – knock on wood, we seem to be holding steady at this point. I assume it will get worse as he gets older, but time will tell. We made it through this year.

Speaking of knocking on wood, Navarre’s mysterious limp has not returned. He was not a fan of yet another do nothing week, but we started going back to the park and then agility yesterday (and many hours of romping at the BBQ!) and no sign of any issue. Still don’t know what that was all about, but we’ll see if it returns.

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In the meantime, trial this weekend! Navarre and Bright, AKC, should hopefully not be TOO hot, but it’s mid-80s. Our last trialing hurrah until Fall, I imagine. We do have a couple other agility events this summer, including a Justine seminar which hopefully won’t be 100 degrees. Note to self: Buy sunscreen, still not quite used to this summer thing yet.

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And Haku is entered in another obedience trial coming up, I’m always the last to know about obedience stuff and how to find and enter it. But it’s at the expo center, which I assume is air conditioned and should be a busy environment – which always makes for a more excited Haku. I keep waiting for our luck to run out with the whole UDX quest, we’ll see what happens.

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Haku is turning 8 years old this month, not old, but definitely well seasoned. I thought he was getting fat, but he’s just getting the mature dog chest pop. He is getting that scraggly looking ‘old dog’ hair though, weird hair growing in weird directions. He has slowed down, but I do think without Fenwick he lost a lot of craziness. Now he feels like he needs to be the mature influence in the household.

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Oh, and speaking of obedience, exciting announcement in AKC – getting rid of out of sight stays in Open! That makes me really happy, just not an exercise I’ve ever supported. And one would think that those that have competed in obedience for many years would love not to have to do the stupid stays at every competition. They are leaving them in Novice, which I think is a nice compromise – and keeping preferred, I imagine. Or certainly hope so.

I did find it interesting when someone was asking whether I cared about titles in agility I’m like, “No, though baby dogs’ first titles are always fun.” Yet in obedience, that’s really the only thing I’m working for. Obedience competitions are not really ‘fun’, but is it challenging to have goal to strive for. Now, we are trying, theoretically, to get better in obedience – to do better than we have before, but I’ll take qualifying over pretty in obedience. 😉 Of course, with the whole scoring being totally subjective, I don’t put much stock into it anyway.

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I do sometimes wonder if Navarre will ever compete in obedience, as it does take a special type. Well, to enjoy it. And I don’t see the point of competing unless your dog is enjoying it – and that IS the challenge, can you train your dog to enjoy an activity that is not intrinsically rewarding and you can give them no feedback and encouragement, and still have a happy worker for 5-10 minutes of difficult behaviors with no reinforcers. Navarre is just such a weird fellow with motivation, he has RULES, and one does not just easily change his mind about anything. We will continue to work on it, as training anything is always fun – but competition, yeah, that remains to be seen.

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We have achieved Navarre actually running to me with speed and enthusiasm. Cracks me up that Navarre and Dove thought this was a stupid exercise from the time they were 8 weeks old. Never seen two puppies that thought restrained recalls were totally uninteresting. So perhaps not surprising that Navarre has struggled with the concept of the recall in obedience. At least, with any sort of enthusiasm. However, we have hit a milestone that he now drives to me with speed. You would think just running to me and getting rewarded would be a really easy exercise … but not with Navarre. Dork.

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Navarre and Dove are growing up, and very much like how I predicted when I met them at 4 weeks. Dove is now way more of a ‘border collie’ than Navarre. She’s growing up to be the party girl, while Navarre is the more laid back ‘good dog’. Really been interesting to watch those two mature, and they still have a ways to go – they’re still just big puppies. So many dogs need a long time to grow up – 2, 3 or even 4 years old is still so young for a lot of dogs.

Random video from a few weeks ago, with bonus Kip video – miss the little squirt!