A Rainy April

Took the boys out herding with Dave again last week, they both had improved. Haku’s outruns weren’t great, but not non-existent. I’m not worried about it, once we get the hang of driving we’ll go back at fix that. The problem is finding an area big enough, of course – he’s fine in our practice arena at Poodletopia. Apparently the slope of the area we were in at Dave’s can cause an issue as well. Mostly he’s just focused on driving, because that’s all we’ve been doing, so he’s anticipating.

The driving was better, and the good news is that we can bumble our way through it, even if it doesn’t go as planned. From what I can gather, as I don’t speak herding very well, there are couple issues. First being that apparently Haku keeps shutting the sheep down on the drive, not sure how to fix this one. The second being his normal issue of once he finally has the sheep driving, the line is right, everything is perfect … and then he’ll just back off and the sheep just wander off. Sigh. Need to continue to work on him continue to move into them – but not at the wrong angle or whatever. This at least we can work on. No issues pushing the sheep off of me today.

Then, ironically, on the fetch then he kept coming up into their bubble TOO much. I can’t win, it’s either telling him to get off of them or telling him to get up on them. Still, he was very proud of himself and it was so much easier to work with these sheep. We had a good time.

Navarre I just passed over to Dave as it’s more helpful for me to see what I should be doing than attempting to have him explain it to me. He used the flag again and today was blocking Navarre into stopping – but not asking him to. There was much flag slapping, and Navarre squinting but refusing to back off. Dave said he was being good, and I will give it a try with our sheep. Just MUCH harder with ours as you won’t be ‘stepping through’ our sheep. At all. Ever. They are a wall of sheep.

I find it very interesting to see the lack of stress with both dogs with herding. Haku can definitely be very sensitive to correction, and Navarre is not a high drive dog, he’s just a big marshmallow – but both are nothing but steely eyed determination no matter how much pressure or confusion there is in herding. Yet London, a total rock in all other aspects of his life, who had never quit anywhere no matter the pressure – in herding it was too much. The pressure caused him to both stress up and stress down and he would totally quit. And I never did all that much with London, and was way nicer about the whole thing with him. So, yeah, go figure.

The interesting world of herding. I do feel less inclined to practice now that I don’t have specific and concrete homework. Not sure when we’ll see sheep again, but now is the time – I’m not looking forward to the heat.

Agility-wise we didn’t do too much this week, just a little bit of running through some exercises to see how they flowed for classes. We don’t have any trial plans until maybe May. We had a lovely hike this week, new wildflowers every time we go. Just not sure if Navarre is broken. As usual, we hiking along, Bright and Haku were playing Stick with a small, smooth but fairly crumbly little piece of wood. For once, Navarre joined in and came over to show me the stick, he was just walking next to me when he yelped really loudly. I don’t know what happened, everyone froze, I thought maybe he hurt himself with the stick, I opened up and checked all over his mouth but didn’t find anything. He wasn’t doing anything to indicate there was any sort of pain in his mouth, I checked him over and didn’t see anything, but then he seemed off for the rest of the hike. Maybe a front, maybe a rear, I couldn’t tell, but definitely not his smooth self – but nothing huge. When we got home I thought I might find a torn pad or something – but no. Maybe some restriction on his front right, but it was hard to say. He did seem a little slower maybe? Possibly hurt his neck or back? Of course, now I can’t see anything, but the dogs haven’t gotten any action this weekend. He’s eating fine, haven’t seen anything amiss with his mouth – ugh. He’s not a yelper though, so something happened – I just don’t know what, and if the stick being in his mouth was completely unrelated.

And in the meantime, all the cats got sick again. Fizban’s eye got goopey, then Marvin stopped eating and Dragon lost his voice again. This swapping sicknesses around is driving me nuts! Still, Marvin never had the not eating sickness, so I’m hoping this is the final round. He’s eating fine again, and once he did I put everyone on antibiotics, we’re doing a full 2 weeks and I’m DONE with cats being sick. So silly to be trading the same damn sicknesses back and forth for FOUR MONTHS.

On the other hand, I think Haku has gained so much weight he tried to get on the bed last night and failed (he made it the second time, my bed is REALLY high). It took a while, but the new food is really kicking in, he’s actually kind of plump. I ordered a new bag, he seems to be doing well on it. And then for everyone I finally broke down and ordered a chest freezer, they’ll all be getting supplemented with raw. The plan is to go pick up a huge amount so that it will last me 6 months or so (and buying in bulk is the only way to make it cheap), as that’s the biggest pain about it all.

I liked the butcher in Aloha, Ponderosa, they had a nice selection and relatively inexpensive with carcasses, bones and ground. As I’m only supplementing I don’t have to worry about it being a complete diet, so we can get all the really cheap stuff. Fingers crossed it helps with Navarre’s teeth, which are the worst teeth I’ve ever had on a dog, they’ve been terrible since he was six months old. This year I’ve attempted to try several ‘home’ remedies, including 1TDC (did nothing), kelp (helped some), brushing (I’ve seen no difference), an oral cleansing gel (maybe helps?) and chews (does nothing). But his gums are inflamed, his teeth are brown, he just has shitty teeth. So we’ll if the bones help. I do occasionally give the dogs knuckle bones, but just a few times a year (that’s what they did this weekend!). That does help, but he needs a lot of help. So, we’ll see, the plan is to add carcasses to his diet several times per week along with weekly knuckle bones. Which will all be easy to do because of my chest freezer!

Herding Adventures

The sheep down south are on to Haku, and have figured out that he’s a total pushover and refuse to move – makes it hard to do much. They only have six sheep down there, so we’re kind of out of luck for working with them. This week we went and worked with Dave Viklund out in Molalla, which works out well as I’m out there hiking on Fridays anyway.

I had worked with Dave many years ago when London was young up at Brigands. He’s a really nice guy and obviously very experienced. I struggled back then to get a clear idea of what we should work on, and I thought I might do better nowadays … but no. I really appreciate how clear Gabe has been on what exactly we need to work on, I do much better with clarity!

Still, the sheep were SO much nicer than the ones down south or our practice sheep. Haku and I could actually drive them around! And these were supposedly his heavy sheep. Ha! Haku did great, I did much better with my inside flanks when I wasn’t having to fight the sheep at the same time and Haku very patiently waited while we talked quite a bit.

As expected, Haku’s issues all come back to being such a super nice, super polite dog.  It makes him very easy for me to work with, but not so much actually getting things done. The big takeaway I had for this week was that ‘walk up’ is a relative term, if I tell Haku to walk up when he’s already in motion he should speed up and hold the line. Did not know that! A lot of his issues were me taking responsibility for Haku not doing his job, apparently. Which was kind of amusing as it was the opposite with Navarre. I give Haku the benefit of the doubt, I just assume Navarre is being a dork.

Haku’s outruns were total crap as we’ve been working on driving so fetching is just not on his mind, apparently. And, once again, I gave him the benefit of the doubt while Dave was like, “You didn’t tell him to drive, he should have fetched – it was his mistake.” I’m sure with practice we’ll get them back. We’re also going to practice working on him pushing on his sheep more on the drive, stop being polite and learning that additional walk-ups mean to get in there and stop being polite. And when I’m working on driving stop using the fence as a crutch. I love my polite little herding dog.

And then there was Navarre. Oh, Navarre, it’s just this ARGUMENT with him. With these lighter sheep his brain kind of exploded. I quickly handed him over to Dave and they argued, with much flag slapping and Navarre, once again, right up the sheep butts. And I’m like, ‘He just has no sheep sense.’ And, once again, much like Gabe, Dave liked Navarre better than Haku. Ha! Dave says he’s got plenty of sheep sense and is doing a good job of controlling the sheep – and he say that Navarre says the same thing about me that I say about him, that I obviously don’t have any sheep sense. So apparently Navarre is just trying to work through the handler and just doesn’t know how to control the sheep effectively yet. Heh, well, certainly no issues with Navarre being too polite.

So, yeah, same homework with Navarre that we have been doing – he was particularly bad with the new sheep so I think Dave was left with the impression that he really hasn’t ever been asked to stay behind the sheep. But, oh yes, he most certainly has. And Dave seemed think Navarre was perfectly appropriate for being right on the sheep butts. I don’t get that at all. Herding is a mysterious world.

Today we headed over to Poodletopia to practice – good lord our old ladies have it out to kill the people. They seriously head butt you, step all over you and try to take you down – I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. Our sheep are very passive aggressive. Or maybe not so passively aggressive. Thankfully, Haku and I got to work on driving them away from me – which isn’t easy, they WANT to take me out, pushing them away from me is hard! At least in the beginning the sheep did listen to Haku though, at least to an extent.

We attempted to work on Haku continuing to walk up faster and into the sheep more when I ask – which didn’t go overly well. We had some success with driving them away, but those sheep just want to come back and take me out! Our other homework, holding Haku accountable for doing what I ask rather than what he THINKS I meant wasn’t super fun either. I don’t like arguing with Haku and making him feel sad, but it was pretty apparent when I was actually holding him responsible that he regularly ignores me and does what he thinks is ‘best’. I ended up working him twice, and while the second time was smoother, at that point the sheep were done moving and started just ignoring him. Poor Haku, he tries so hard! We have a ways to go, but we’ll continue to keep moving forward.

Now, working Navarre is doubly hard with the sheep trying to take me out. But Navarre was actually doing a bit better. I had very little expectations of him to do anything but stay behind the sheep and he didn’t do too badly. And he can steady up … in a fashion. He stops his frantic wearing but then walks up RIGHT on the sheep butts. Which Dave seemed to think was okay, so, hey.

So the boys had fun, it’s a lot of mental work and next week we’ll have more herding and can at least say we practiced. Always fun to play with new things, even if I never quite feel like I have any idea of what I’m actually supposed to be doing.

NAC Video

Bright’s AKC Nationals montage video:


Such a good girl, I adore her so much. Her wiggles, her squinty smiles, her grunts and groans, her naughty barks – I’m so glad we had our special event together.

In the meantime, I went to enter the only local trial for a while, and it was full! Ha, that will teach me to procrastinate, so we’re officially on break. Still, already started seriously focusing on Navarre’s call to hand. Amazing what a little practice can do, and very happy with the results doing just tiny little exercises. Also been proofing threadles with both dogs, Bright actually seems better than she was at them, for whatever reason. Our next big goal, feeling ready with our international skills for the Justine seminar.

Knock on wood, I think Haku has actually gained some weight. We’re down to about a 1/4th of a bag of this special food, after which I’ll go weigh him. I’m feeling optimistic we’ve turned a corner though. Planning to go ahead with Operation Raw Food Freezer, which will make me feel better about all the animal’s diets.

Oh, and possibility I may be doing some puppy raising for a sighthound this year, which I would be very interested in seeing what life with a sighthound would be like! We shall see, but summer of puppies may end up having an appropriate amount of puppies after all!

Easter Fools

Gah, April already – 2018 is flying by. I do love Spring though, and it has been a beautiful one. Wildflowers are blooming in the forest, trees are blooming everywhere, bulbs are coming up and everything is emerald green. Yes, I would be okay with Spring year round – it makes me very happy.

Very much enjoyed my trip to Reno, and it was fun to have a big event to look forward to. I didn’t have much planned afterwards. Trials are sparse for the next couple months, because whenever the weather is actually pleasant we never seem to have any local trials. I am feeling inspired to trial after nationals, but I think there is only one trial until June. Oh well!

We skipped the trial this weekend, I figured I would like an agility break after nationals last week. Instead I took the boys up to go dock diving in the indoor pool at their open practice. I had been meaning to take Navarre to be introduced for quite some time, I figured he would love it. I was also hoping they would be able to help me properly introduce him to dock diving to do it correctly this time. But no such luck there, with any help with introducing him or Navarre having any interest in it! My brave Navarre would barely slither off the baby dock – go figure. He enjoyed the barking though! Haku thinks it’s fun, so that was good, though without a proper introduction he just sort of hops off – but he definitely enjoys himself. So we won’t be back, but it was a fun outing – we’ll stick to swimming in the river.

I am hoping to get the boys on some lighter sheep, we’re going to take some lessons out in Molalla before hiking on Fridays. I’m hoping to give Haku a chance to work some new sheep and progress with our driving, and maybe if Navarre works some lighter sheep he won’t be RIGHT on top of them the whole time (though I doubt it!). We’ll see, this is with the instructor I worked with many years ago with London.

We are officially not doing obedience at the moment, which is kind of sad as it had been a regular part of our lives for so long. But Haku has moved on to herding and Navarre doesn’t have much interest in it. We’ll give it a try some time in the future, but it is kind of weird not to be going to the big local trial in April this year. We had some good times.

In agility I really am going to work on teaching Navarre a come to hand cue and go back to working on proofing our threadles again. I’d like to feel confident in our somewhat neglected international skills by the time the Justine and Jessica seminar rolls around this summer. Both of Bright’s boys will be there – how cool is that? Will be fun to see Daredevil again and Creed for the first time since he was a puppy. Love those pups!

Meanwhile, my kitten is six months old! And still so tiny! But kind of fat. I had increased the output of the automatic feeder as I felt the maine coons looked kind of skinny. But apparently Marvin is just eating it all. And the maine coons just let him, as Marvin can do anything he wants, really. Currently exploring options to get some raw food back in rotation for them and the dogs. I think I’m going to break down and buy a chest freezer. I can’t afford to feed them full raw, but I feel much better about supplementing – especially the cats. There are some local options that are affordable in bulk, both ground and chicken carcasses – I think it will work out.

Anyway, kitten will eat ANYTHING, just crazy stuff. Like white chocolate – WTF? He’s such a character, I just adore him. He’s so sweet and funny and super soft – gah, such the perfect kitten. At some point I’ll have to neuter him, but he seems so tiny and young, I don’t think I need to do it yet. Though his voice actually changed while I was gone in Reno. When I left he had cute tiny kitten ‘mews’, when I returned it totally freaked me out when I heard these weirdly mature, “meows” coming from his tiny adorable face! Marvin is growing up, which is sad because I love kittens so much – wish he could stay this tiny and cute forever!

I have the hardest time getting video of cats playing, but here’s a random minute of Marvin:

Oh, and CBD oil update – I’m calling it a success! Dragon actually does seem more relaxed, friendly and happy! I don’t think it’s all in my mind, people visiting seem amazed to both see him and for him to actually go up to folks and say hello. So keeping him on the weed, I like Stoned Dragon.

Haku update, I was hopeful he was going to be chubby after I returned from Reno, but I couldn’t really feel any difference. It’s now been like 3 weeks since starting him on the new food, and maybe he seems a little less thin? Or maybe I didn’t like the conversation I had with the vet when they called to check up on him and were talking about pancreatic insufficiency and how you have buy expensive drugs every month to help them digest things. I really don’t want to do that. And, besides, he feels just fine – he’s active and happy and other than being thin, no issues. We’ll see, I’ll finish up the bag of food and we’ll go from there.

As far as I can tell, Aja is doing well in her new home – the pictures I see of her looks like she’s having a great time and doing well with her new doggie family. I miss the sassy little thing! The amount of local puppies expected this summer is shrinking, unfortunately – but at least I’ll get to play with some Briards this Spring. Can’t go wrong with being a puppy auntie – all the fun of a puppy with none of the lifetime commitment!

Yes, it’s true, Bright and Haku have the same eyes – and combine them together and they make one attractive split face!

We didn’t have much luck with our photography assignment this week, ‘Symmetry’ – this was supposed to be three noses poking through a crack in the door. That so isn’t what happened.