Valentine’s Love

What a crazy winter we’ve had, from last year being one of the coldest on record to this winter being one of the warmest. If only it could be like this year round! I do like winter, 50 degrees, overcast and drizzle is my kind of weather. No bugs, no heat, the dogs get to go everywhere and they never get overheated or tired. They got seriously skinny this January, we definitely got a lot of action over winter break. They seemed to do okay adjusting back to my teaching schedule this week though.

Back to teaching means they get to be my guinea pigs for classes, so we’re getting back into agility practice again. Navarre continues to have better trained skills than Bright, I find that kind of funny. Just little things, like finding and committing to tunnel entrances, Navarre’s got it down. Bright is the one with the nationals coming up though, so hoping to feel pretty good about our teamwork before then. Or not, it’s all good – I have no expectations for Bright at nationals, but I’m sure we’ll have a good time. A little one day USDAA action for Bright and Navarre this weekend, just a few classes. Should work Bright up to 22 inches again.

Last weekend we focused on herding, which makes Haku VERY happy. He really likes herding. He liked obedience, but herding suits him much better. Of everything we’ve done together, it’s what feels the most comfortable for him. It helps that these days he’ll actually hold his own against cranky sheep. I do think having our asshole sheep has been one of the best things for him, the confidence he’s gained by constantly facing down sheep that are challenging him has been fabulous.

Inside flanks continues to be more than my brain can handle, but I can only assume it will eventually get better. Haku doesn’t mind. Right now we have ‘come’ which means we’re changing direction and ‘stand’ which means walk-up. So, yeah, that will need some fixing, but it’s funny how well it does work. Fun to actually be making progress in the world of herding, and Haku is trying so hard – I don’t feel like I’m arguing with him at all.

Now, Navarre … well, yeah, arguing. About everything, and I felt bad about it until I went back and had Gabe work him at our lesson and he has to do the same thing. At this point, Navarre is just not good at anything herding-wise. But not being good at something does not mean he hasn’t made progress! He’s much better than he was, but, yeah, there is no part of herding that he’s good at. Yet. Maybe. But, as usual, no lack of enthusiasm and focus. He loves it and does not get the least bit discouraged by being constantly corrected. He really has learned to slow down and steady … compared to what he used to look like.

So we’ll go back for another lesson in a couple weeks, I’m going to try mentally practicing my flanks – and hopefully do better in practice than I have been. Going to keep trying to help Navarre have some feel for his sheep. Fun to do something different, hope we can keep it up this year – there is certainly no going back to obedience with Haku, it took like 2 sessions of herding to completely screw up his obedience behaviors. Haku’s natural state is not ‘precise’ …

Aja got to chase some sheep around again, she thought it was pretty fun and maybe had a little glimmer that she could control the sheep. I’ve had her again for a bit this week. Once again, Bright was the happiest to see her, Navarre was quite put out she had returned. Aja is 4 months old now and getting quite big and pointy. Still so awkward, some puppies just grow up looking all proportionate and cute – Aja is not one of those. She has the cutest expressions though, and her ears have so many cute looks. Getting spottier too. She did wedge herself into the household again pretty quickly though, my crew is very tolerant of her body slamming and barking – and Bright continues to think she’s just precious. Go figure.

We’re not sure if she’s just not been feeling entirely well or she’s in a new stage – she just doesn’t seem to be into food for the past week or so. She’s still eating, but not with her previous excitement. She’ll leave food and walk away, which was unheard of for younger Aja. Yet she’s very active and seems to be feeling great, so it’s a bit of a mystery. So we haven’t done much training while she’s been here. Though we did work on her cone sends with toys, which was fun:

She is just such a fun dog, very much enjoy her. She’ll be going back to David’s tomorrow.

Aja is doing much better with the cats, I don’t worry about her any more. I think she may grow up to be a cat stalker, she gets the ‘look’ around them. As for the cats, we are STILL dealing with lingering sickness issues. Dragon ended up with two weepy eyes for quite some time, he’s finally clearing up and then Fizban’s eye starts getting weepy. Gah. Both Fizzy and Dragon are still getting their voices back too. It’s been quite the long road to recovery. And Marvin still does the same delicate little sneezes it all started with. That’s the risk you take with having a closed system of indoor cats, doesn’t take much for it to blow up. I don’t think there is anything I could have done differently, and I had actually gotten Fizzy and Dragon vaccinated last summer, which I don’t do often with indoor cats. Shit happens.

Still, Marvin is totally worth it, he’s getting bigger and still is ridiculously cute and snuggly. The cats all love each other, Marvin is totally cool with the dogs – though surprisingly not as cuddly with them as the maine coon are. The cats play together, groom each other, sleep together, eat together. One big happy family. As for Ragdolls, they are way more oblivious than the maine coons. Like when I’m vacuuming Marvin just sits there, you have to vacuum around him. Absolutely no sense of self preservation.

It is really cute, Marvin finally decided he’ll eat dry food, and has joined in the mad rush to the automatic feeder. It plays a recording of my voice when it’s about to go off and the cats all make a mad dash into the cat room when they hear it. It goes off six times a day, so it’s very exciting around here.

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