2018 is going to be the Year of Navarre. Well, in a way. I do think he’s finally physically and mentally maturing and we can actually DO THINGS now. Or start to work on doing things. Have plans to work on things anyway. And obviously agility is number one on our list, because it’s my favorite!
Navarre has a nice foundation, I feel pretty good about his obstacle performance, he’s a nice jumper, and he’s trying very hard. He is not, however, Bright. And after running a dog that is so tight and close for so long, Navarre is a whole other … kettle of fish? Is that a saying? And part of that is me, as I’m just not used to having to actually, well, work on getting my dog to come in. But it’s been hard to say how much is me, how much is him being a young outwardly focused dork and how much I should physically reasonably expect from him. And that is what I want to work on this year, being a better handler for Navarre, and deciding what level of driftiness is acceptable.
So we have a few seminars set up for this year, mostly for Navarre and me. Bright … has her own issues, but that has less to do with handling in my mind. This weekend we got to see Anna Hinze, who is visiting from Germany. I had never worked with her before, and I liked her, she has nice eye and obviously does a lovely job with her dogs. It was really nice to be a student again, I just don’t get to have that sort of feedback often these days and it was really helpful.
Navarre was not doing anything super drifty, but we did talk about some ideas to help him. It does come back to the revelation I had last year with Justine, he just doesn’t chase me, and he never has since he was a puppy. Dove and Navarre were probably the only two puppies I’ve ever known that thought chasing games were just STUPID. My work last year having Navarre chase a toy in my hand to reward didn’t seem to have much effect in the long run when we were actually RUNNING the course. So Anna talked about just very simple idea of going back to hand targeting. Which, once again, we did when he was a puppy, but we never really did much with it. The idea is to bring the hand touch into a chase situation on course and reward for that behavior, rather than chasing a toy (which he does when the toy is there, and does not chase me when it isn’t). So simple concept, going to see about incorporating it into our training.
We also talked about teaching a verbal tight turn out of a tunnel, which I’ve always liked the idea of, another piece we can look at training this year. And the last really helpful point I got from Anna is yet another simple concept with big results, shoulder back on threadles. I do like having the off arm to give a clear threadle signal (Anna mostly uses the dog-side arm just with a lot of shoulder back action), but unless the shoulder is going back, the dog just isn’t getting the benefit of the information. Just because I’m using my offarm does not mean my shoulder is going back like it can – which gives way more information.
Then, of course, just being in a seminar working on leaving and getting ahead always reminds me how lazy I can be. 😉 Navarre, much like London (and most dogs, really), is going to be the most successful with the best lines if I get up there and make it happen. Shocking concept. And that Navarre really does need his threadles retrained anyway, he’s definitely set to ‘AKC’ at the moment. Lots of good stuff from him, he was trying really hard and had a great time. His weaves were perfect, go figure.
Oh, and the love affair that Navarre and Terrie Demiere have going on is just ridiculous, they have loved each other since he was a puppy. He rarely ever sees her, but when he does he just can’t stay away from her, so funny. Oh, and his favorite girl crush Luna was there, he loves her SO much – and she’ll play with him sometimes, but he just gets too needy and she has to tell him to push off. And he loves her all the more for it. Puppy love!
Then after the seminar we got to go herding – Navarre was in heaven! He’s doing so much better these days, I’m so much more optimistic that he’ll eventually be able to actually do useful work. After just working on keeping him moving for the last few weeks, we went back to getting him to balance and steady and he could actually handle it now (kind of)! Of course, it didn’t help that the non-dog broke sheep decided she wanted to start turning and challenging him. His response to that was to just ignore her and herd the other three – which, well, that’s one way to do it. That ewe was constantly challenging Navarre, but not Haku – go figure. I think Haku has found his power these days, such a different dog than the polite little thing he used to be. Super pleased with Navarre’s progress, still slicing his flanks sometimes, but nothing like he was. Good puppy!
As for Haku, I really think the lightbulb has turned on and he understands driving now. Which is just huge and makes me ever so happy. He was able to drive the sheep all over the pasture with confidence – he thinks it’s awesome! Such simple behaviors but made all the world of difference with his understanding. Inside flanks though … OMG, I just can’t. I did recognize very late in life that I’m actually mildly dyslexic. The thing is, you can mostly compensate for this in every day life, but I’m a little concerned about flanks once you take away my location cues and split face cheats.
So then we went back down to the herding instructor for even more Navarre Fun, though I think Haku had the most fun with this. I am really pleased with how Haku is doing, there is so much more we can do now and that’s really fun. I’d like him to have a little ‘herding career’. We had our agility career, then our obedience career, it would be really fun to navigate a new activity together. If we continue to practice and progress, I think we have time to do at least something in herding. So my goal is to see if we can eventually do some trials. I don’t care what kind, our options are limited as there is not much in our area. Just love that boy, and he loves his herding! Our current homework is working on our inside flanks, we’ll see how it goes. I can work on this with toys though, and a lot of this will just be for ME. Gah.
And Navarre is coming along, our homework is to continuing to work on getting him to understand the concept of steady and keep working on widening him out. Which will be an ongoing project, but I knew that. Herding just blows his little brain, when he comes out of the arena he just looks like his mind has exploded. So, yeah, still some baby brain going on in there.
Navarre and Aja did take over Haku’s obedience lesson this week. Navarre in obedience is kind of bizarre. He goes through weird phases where it’s like he has no idea what something is. Like for the last few weeks he had no concept of actually jumping the broad jump – and that was with me ahead, throwing a toy, it was like he had never seen one and he was SURE he needed to tip-toe through the boards. Just WEIRD. This week, BEAUTIFUL broad jump from all angles – but now has absolutely no concept of what ‘heel’ means. He likes to keep it real, that boy. But he was happy, so, hey, it’s all good.
As for Aja, didn’t take her long at all before she was playing and having a great time when I brought her into the obedience class. She has really seemed to have turned a corner with her Drama, and doesn’t mean she’s not suspicious in new situations, but her recovery continues to be very quick. I only had her in there for like five minutes, there was no need to do more, she was focused, playing, offering behavior and being adorably cute.
Her confidence has continued at David’s, going for walks and hikes and hanging out in the city she’s doing so much better, relaxing and just feeling comfortable in places where she was initially freaked out. Greeting and passing people on the trail, no issues with traffic or business anymore – the girl is growing up! And, yeah, I don’t think I’ll be seeing much more of her at my house at this point. Everything is going so well with her at David’s household that it looks very promising that she’ll be a good match for them on a permanent basis. So that makes me extremely happy, as I’ll get to see her all the time. Right now the plan is she won’t be back to stay with me until the end of March when they’re going on a trip.
So, yeah, suddenly puppyless! And just when she was finally getting pretty easy. I think 4 months is a pretty magical age, they’re still tiny puppies, but the really hard part is usually done. When they’re brand new and know NOTHING it can be a lot of work to teach all those every day life skills, but it’s just remarkable how quickly dogs can learn to be a part of our lives. Really takes about 2 months, and Aja will be 4 months old next week. Such a nice puppy, she really is a lot of fun, very much enjoyed having her here. Except, maybe, those first few days with the screaming. Oh, the screaming. Aja’s first ever behavior she learned was ‘Enough’. Heh.
So back to peace and quiet around here, though thankfully the cats all finally seem to be on the mend. Kitten is still sneezing a little, but no more eye gunk. Dragon’s eye is still a little weepy, but on it’s way out. Cats are playing together, sleeping together, grooming each other and basically having a love affair. Knock on wood, so far Marvin has been a perfect addition – I love him so much! And we may have made some progress with getting him to stop lunging at my food when I eat. Maybe. He LOVES the people food, and is VERY persistent. Still won’t touch cat kibble, only canned for him. Sweet, fun little kitten that we’re all just loving. Feeling very happy with my household of healthy pets at the moment (knock on wood!).