Bring on the Sheeps

Aja might be at a crossroads, changing her highest preference from food to toys and motion. Which is pretty normal in a border collie, but I haven’t actually experienced it, so it’s a little jarring to see Aja choose toys and action over food. So much for the easy food motivated puppy days. Or maybe it’s just a phase, I’m not sure. She is losing her teeth, and I actually think that chewing at the moment feels a little weird to her. You’d think playing with toys would feel weirder, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

I had forgotten I had ordered some tiny tennis balls for Aja, brought those out and, OMG, Aja is such a ball dog! She thought those were great fun. I have some tiny squeaky balls we need to try out too – I think she’ll be a fan. She’s also really learned about the power of the toy, the power of taunting the other dogs and strutting around like she’s the Queen. She REALLY likes to run around showing her toy off to everyone, it’s pretty adorable.

Marvin and Aja have now been introduced, but I’m still pretty cautious with it. He’s just so tiny and oblivious, and Aja doesn’t quite know what to do with cats – and hasn’t learned that cats are allowed to do whatever they want and dogs can’t do anything about it. Still, I figured we could all sleep on the bed together last night, but border collies are so funny, Aja just wanted to sleep in her crate. London and Bright were the same way, crate lovers.

Training-wise we’ve been working on ‘relax’ on her side, holding an object, staying while I get dinner ready, recall through my legs, leg weaving, pivot into heel, collar holds, baby sit-ups, rear feet targeting, jumping into my lap and recalls. She continues to be a very fun dog to train.

The last few days I feel like she’s looking a little bit more like a dog and less like a brick. They grow so quickly at this age! She’s getting more coordinated, running faster, turning quicker. She still seems so big for a 3 month old puppy! But I’m sure it will all even out.

She did go into the vet for her last shots yesterday, and admittedly I don’t bring her in until they’re ready for her, and I carry her through the lobby – but, still, she actually LIKES the vet. I don’t know why, but she has been remarkably relaxed and comfortable both times that she’s gone, happy and friendly, no worries at all. Go figure. She weighed in at 17 pounds. Hopefully shouldn’t need to go into the vet again until she’s older for her rabies.

Today was actually a really good day out and about for Aja, no real Drama, just a little reserved when first meeting folks when we went herding, but it was just normal caution and she was jumping all over them with muddy paws within minutes and doing her full body wag. Aja ‘saw’ sheep for the first time. She had been around them, but I don’t think she had really ‘noticed’ them until today. And she found watching Dove herd VERY exciting – such a loud puppy. As she was so comfortable and excited we let her chase around a sheep in the round pen a little. She wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but she was willing to check it out. And then didn’t want to leave, need to work on recalls around sheep, apparently.

A little video of the end of Aja’s sheep introduction:

Then the dogs were running around in the agility arena while I was setting up for a workshop and people arrived … and she was just like, “Hello!” No weirdness, no Drama, it was so nice to see her happy and comfortable. She continues to improve, though I did find it funny to be at the vet and see all these super fat pet dogs that probably never left the house unless to go the vet – and they’re all super friendly and obnoxiously forward. Go figure.

Aja is with me until next Thursday, so we’ll see if she continues to do well bouncing back and forth between households. So far, so good.

As for herding with Haku and Navarre, they did great! We have decided we like this guy down in Junction City, which is not super close – but it’s not terrible either. So we’ll see if we can keep it up and continue to progress. And we actually did make some progress, Haku and I worked on homework between lessons, both on sheep and on toys, and it actually made a lot of sense when we put it together on sheep today. Haku was driving! And I think this method made a lot of sense to both of us, at least once I got to see it action. Totally ruined our ‘stand’ in obedience, but I’ll take it, we’re going to see what we can do in herding. If we can continue to practice and have lessons, it gives us something to work on that’s new and fun. Sort of breaks my heart, but Haku is getting older, he’ll be 9 this year and while that’s not old, in terms of doing more physical activities like herding, I feel like there is a bit of a ticking clock. So I think we’ll call obedience good and see if we can focus on herding this year.

I just let Gabe work Navarre again, but next week I’ll take over. He got some progress with getting Navarre to steady, but it wasn’t easy. So at least it’s not just me. šŸ˜‰ The nice part about the babydoll sheep is even if Navarre is ridiculously close, they still don’t push off the person, so you can actually work on the pace, even the dog isn’t respecting the sheep bubble. Still, with these sheep and letting Navarre move more he wasn’t rushing in on the sheep, he really was trying. It’s not as easy as with Haku, but I’m a little more hopeful that he can figure this out, at least to a certain extent.

So we set up another lesson next week, hopefully I can get out to practice on the sheep at Poodletopia this week and we all enjoy doing something new. Well, except Bright, who thinks sheep are so incredibly stupid.

In cat news, Dragon is eating again, retching less, and now has a gooey eye. Progress?