Wow, Aja is growing up by leaps and bounds, it’s crazy how she can change over the course of a week both physically and mentally. You can really see the wheels turning in her head these days, she’s a little too smart for her own good. She definitely weighs her options, and she’ll actually just stop and consider if you ask her to do something. Definitely the sort of dog that wants it to be her idea and what’s in it for her – and I love that. It just makes everything so much more straightforward, but, damn, that girl is crafty – have to keep one step ahead of her.

Still, huge progress on a lot of things this week. She really is generalizing her stay, we took it on the road this week when we went into town to for a photography project. I was still very cautious about it, made sure the other dogs were sitting on her leash – but her stay around all the traffic was amazing. I found a location I really liked on a busy corner, there were giant trucks and the train went by – didn’t phase her at all, and her stay was solid. Admittedly, it helps when the other dogs are right there with her, but Aja has figured out what ‘stay’ means. We’ve been using it in all sorts of fun situations, so she’s been doing great holding her stay before I throw a toy or release the dogs to run.

The other breakthrough was with her ‘hold’, which she was not thrilled with in the beginning. She progressed quickly, but lost interest quickly too – she wanted to do anything BUT hold a spoon (still it was very cute to see her rolling over with a spoon in her mouth!). But she finally started to get into it and we have achieved taking the spoon and holding it for a few seconds, even while I touched it, then releasing on her ‘yes’. This seemed to help with her retrieve in general, which isn’t terrible, but she’s not one of Nature’s Retrievers. She likes to show off! But she’s really starting to love the game of coming back to tug with me or to throw it again. It’s like she had the lightbulb moment of, “Oh, you’re actually really fun when you play with my toys!” Her roll over is adorable, she’s got a baby sit-up (which has kind of ruined her wave, but we’ll fix that), barking on cue – she’s a fun dog to train.

The big moment of the week was our return trip out to Daisy’s for International league. Last week there was MUCH Drama. And she definitely improved, but was still cautious. Today we walked in and she was like, “Aja has ARRIVED! You may all feed me now.” Totally different dog than last week, made me so happy to see such a huge improvement. Last week she just stuck close to me while I walked the course, avoiding all the people and acting like the sky was falling. This week there was no way I could walk the course with her, as she wanted to go jump all over EVERYONE. Such a totally different dog, I had to constantly call her back to stay with me, she wanted to play, do tricks, run around, explore – you know, like a NORMAL puppy. Made me so happy! She still was suspicious of the man there initially, but got over that quickly too. Chasing balls, throwing her frisbee around, tugging and being totally fierce and happy. Color me surprised, but happy – I’m very encouraged she will outgrow a lot of her Drama.

Dogs did well at league today, it was a nice flowing course. Happily, Bright did her dogwalk contact the first time through, so I brought out a tiny tennis ball – and she was happy. The second run dogwalk was even nicer, so hopefully we can get back to our regularly schedule dogwalk performance without having to argue. Bright and I had some goofiness, but we’ll see if we can bring it together before nationals. Navarre continues to be easier to run than Bright, but we’re going to do a little seminar on Saturday to talk about Sir Driftypants.

Meanwhile, the cat saga goes on and on. Dragon has his gooey eye, then Marvin’s OTHER eye is all gooey now. Sad looking creatures at the moment, but everyone is feeling better, eating well. Nothing to do but wait and let Navarre clean out everyone’s eyeballs. Sigh.