For last few years I’ve been doing a summer seminar up in Washington with Justine Davenport, this year Tammy brought both her and Jessica down to our area. I like their stuff, I have for years, it suits me really well and the trained skills are so helpful to my students. Agility will always have a lot to do with natural motion, but I think training the commitment and skills takes agility to a higher level and lets the less athletic and mobile stay ahead and let their dogs know where they’re going. It does not, however, magically make drifty dogs into non-drifty dogs. 😉
Navarre did really well at the seminar, he does have so many great skills and his commitment is fantastic (when I use my verbals!). It’s a nice feeling to know that I can trust his skills, and we certainly have the ABILITY to get through most anything. Which is not the same as we will, especially with the driftiness, which remains his big weakness.
I often waffle about my response to the driftiness – does it really matter? And I go through phases of, “It’s just who he is, let him keep his speed up and go wide,” and “OMG, he’s so wide he’s running around everything and his lines are terrible – we need to work on the driftiness!” Jessica’s response was, “Don’t worry about it, let him keep the speed, he’s trying, that’s just who he is.” However, she also recommends ending every sequence having him chase a toy in my hand. Hm, now where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, after LAST year’s seminar!
Now, last year we DID work on this. We spent three months only rewarding from hand with tug toys and chasing me at the ends of sequences. And that went fine, but it had no effect when he WASN’T chasing the toy in my hand. So we’ve been working on our hand touches, but we haven’t really put into sequences ‘for real’. I recognize that throwing a toy for Navarre constantly is NOT helping with his driftiness or coming into me issue. It does make him happy, so we will now compromise. We will end every sequence with chasing my hand, after which I will then throw the toy. Now, the hard part will be actually REMEMBERING to do that consistently, but that is the plan.
Really though, Navarre is such a good boy. He was excited, focused and working well throughout the seminar – even when it was super hot. He was on his best behavior, acting like he did NOT go through an extended period where he had no idea what a threadle was. He had lovely independent everything, including some nice weavepole entrances, serps and backsides. Jumping was good, well, other than some not collecting. I don’t think he dropped any bars all weekend – I do love how effortless it is for him. He was actually pretty high, I had problems getting his frisbee away from him, he just wanted to tug – he only does that when he’s really excited. He was up for anything, never got tired, was trying his hardest and having a great time. I just LOVE that boy, he is the best.
Predictably, I did best on the first day when it was cooler, that was with Justine. We also did more interesting sequences and drills where I wasn’t sure what the best way to handle it for us would be. Sunday with Jessica was more basic and very hot – and I was not as much into it. I just feel so dead in the heat, and we were in the afternoon session outdoors. Luckily Navarre didn’t seem to mind!
So, skill-wise I felt good with the babydog, we’ve done our homework in that regard. It was nice to talk about jump training and get opinions on what might be the best approach with helping Navarre be successful. Basically, Navarre is a nice jumper, he CAN collect and understands very well his collection cues – it’s not that he’s not collecting, it’s that he’s then not chasing me. This is all very familiar as it’s the same stuff as last year! Just nice to get some second opinions on our best course of action. I think Navarre will like our plan which is to continue to try to be the best handler I can, give him lots of early information and set good lines and then work on his chase drive.
Of course, the most exciting part of the seminar is that not one, but TWO of Bright’s puppies were there – and that it was their 4 year old birthday over the weekend! Crazy to think that Bright’s all red litter is now four – not really babies anymore. And Bright is seven – yikes!
Bright’s puppies are these adorable sensitive nerds that I just adore – but, obviously, I’m biased. They both got some Bright sensitivity, but in different ways. But both are just sweet and funny and full of personality – and they LOVE their agility. It made my heart happy to see them all grown up, happy and well loved. Bright thought they were just fine, as well she should, Creed is like the Male Bright. Like god forbid the cats look at him, he would go hide behind people. Love them, Bright’s funny red puppies.
Navarre and I had our last agility trial of the season over the weekend. We lucked out with some fairly moderate weather on Saturday, but over 90 on Sunday – boo! Luckily it was a nice one judge trial, and I love the schedules they have with those. Both Premiers first in the morning, and then both excellent classes – which are small, because it’s only one judge! My favorite. And they had improved the surface as well, which made me happy.
Well run trial, the courses were fun … except the contact approaches, which were just bizarre all weekend. I, and other people, had to ask multiple times to get better approaches – just did not seem to be something she worried about. And just consistently, I haven’t seen anything like it for quite some time, I feel like safe contact approaches are more of a priority these days, especially in AKC.
The dogs were coming from the weaves to the dogwalk … yeah, no – I just made up my own course and went to the aframe instead, I wasn’t doing that with Navarre. And a lot of dogs do fine with this sort of thing (and Navarre PROBABLY would have), but … why? At no point do I think I should have to say, “My dog PROBABLY won’t hurt himself on that contact approach”. So that was disappointing, but, thankfully, not something I see much of these days (at least in AKC).
Navarre actually had a pretty good weekend, we had a lot of nice runs and only one ridiculously stupid one. He was still drifty and wide, and, yes ran around jumps – but he also did a lot of really great stuff and was happy and having a great time. Weaves were spot on, not one issue! He had some really fantastic independent entrances AND exits – superstar! Contacts looked good, including a tough 90 degree turn off the dogwalk into a wall where I had to run around the judge in my way and he still found the weave entrance – good boy!
His premier runs did not feel like a hot mess either! One he ran around the tire, and the other he was perfect, I just skipped the dogwalk because of the approach. He had two Qs in premier jumpers, and one I thought was pretty tough to get up there:
Navarre even got a double Q – and High in Trial too! Super proud of my big puppy, he’s growing up. Of course, then we had one run where he got three jumps and then just floated off and around a jump for no particular reason and I had him lie down and got whistled off. So, yeah, still a baby.
So we’re done with trialing until the end of September, when hopefully Bright will join us again. I had Bright adjusted by the chiropractor at the trial today, who she found a bunch of stuff in her back … hm. Well, the goal is to get her back in shape and ready for action by the Fall – she’s cleared to be a dog though.
As for summer, Haku will continue to herd – and he has a tentative herding debut in August, assuming everything works out. The theory is that Carol is going to attempt to run him in an AKC competition up in Washington she’s going to. This is assuming he’ll work for her and he can do things other than drive at this point. So that’s our goal at the moment, looking at skills for novice AKC herding – which he most definitely SHOULD have. Theoretically. Fun to have something to work towards, we’ll see how it goes.
Herding this week went much better than our last attempt at driving in the big field. No losing the sheep and having to tromp all over the property to find them. There is a fine line between driving and sheep just running away. I can’t always tell the difference, and I’m TRYING not to constantly fix his lines, so sometimes the sheep DID start to get away. The difference is this week Haku was actually covering, sometimes not always very efficiently though. But I was super impressed when the sheep went back behind some hills and trees and Haku was outrunning to cut them off and I lost sight of them, I couldn’t help him and he had to figure it all out on his own – and he did! Multiple times! He was very proud of himself. Of course, it would be best if he wouldn’t lose the sheep in the first place, but we’re working on it. So we did some driving, we did some emergency blind sheep fetching – I felt good about being actually useful.
Now, Navarre, well, that’s another story. I didn’t even use a stock stick today, I was just stepping through those sheep and telling him to BACK THE HELL OFF. He CAN do it … but, boy, there is a lot of arguing.
We don’t have another lesson until mid-July, but hoping to get some good practice in and see if Carol and Haku can work together. I am optimistic that Haku has another year of herding in him, and maybe he has more, but he’ll be 10 and that may not be realistic. We’ll try to make the best of what time we have.
In other news, Summer of Puppies continues, with slightly less puppies than originally scheduled, but that’s okay. Right now I have Leia, a 9 week old briard. She’s been a very slow to come into her own, but now after a week I feel like I’m seeing more of the ‘real puppy’. The border collies are not fans of puppies that start off being perfectly polite and then suddenly change into ‘real’ puppies. I think Navarre would have been into her if she had arrived more interactive, but now Leia pretty much plays with the border collies against their will – which is actually pretty easy to do. Haku is the usual target of this sort of play, as he won’t defend himself.
Happy to see Leia feeling more comfortable though, apparently briards are giant dramaqueens, and she’s certainly been one. Seeing a lot less of that and she’s finally starting to play, and chased her first cat today. She’s been interesting to train as she started out incredibly passive, and is finally starting to get more dynamic. So interesting to get a chance to work with a different breed. She’ll go home in another week, I think.
In the meantime, another border collie puppy to raise! Tammy is going to start her off though, so we’ll see how much I see of her. Kind of neat she’s a mixture of all our dogs, I’m very curious what she’ll be like. Not sure how long she’ll be staying, just depends on how easy she is to live with, I imagine.