Haku the REAL Herding Dog

Haku’s herding debut weekend went well … for the most part. The herding portion, anyway. It actually went suspiciously well, when I saw the video of their first run I was like … WTF, who is this dog? This was most definitely NOT the dog that had shown up to practice with Carol. It wasn’t even the dog that showed up for me, Haku was like 80 feet behind the sheep, continually lying down and being all super polite. I have no idea where that came from, but he was trying SO HARD and not being a dork at all. He had a bit of confusion on flanks but I was thrilled with what he did, he was having a great time and Carol did an amazing job with him. Herding is so much easier when the handler knows what they’re doing!

To be fair, I know really almost nothing about what herding trials are actually scored on, though I know more now than I did. But, yeah, I would have been woefully unprepared to actually run Haku through the course. Which was so TINY! I don’t know what I expected, but it seemed like such a small arena. This was Started A, which is the smallest course, then there is the Started B, which is the ‘border collie course’, which is more open. Both Carol and I thought, considering how goofy Haku was being in practice, that Started A was fine for Haku’s first attempt – but considering the dog that showed up, I think B course would not have been an issue. That’s okay, guess who got his first herding title? I’m not entirely sure what it IS, but something like HSA, or possibly HSAs – I don’t really know herding titles.

But, yes, they qualified all three days, with Haku getting a little more pushy as the weekend went on, but nothing crazy. And apparently he got some good scores to, he was one point from high in trial! He did get Reserve high in trial though, which is still very exciting – and comes with money (which Haku will use to pay for his naughtiness over the weekend). It’s safe to say he would not have done as well if I were handling him, but, still, Haku did not embarrass Carol over the weekend, for which I’m very grateful.

Herding is yet another subjective sport, and it was funny to look at the scoresheets where some judges were super picky and others were not. I am really not a fan of the subjective scoring sports, give me agility any day of the week. But I didn’t really care if Haku did ‘well’ over the weekend, I was just hoping he would do SOMETHING good. And he did! He did ‘real’ herding at a ‘real’ trial and is therefore a ‘real’ herding dog now. It’s a big step to see if your dog can do the work in a ‘real’ situation, and he proved he could. Well, at least with someone who knows what they’re doing. It’s official, we can go out there and play – which, btw, he didn’t look ‘old’ at all! I hope we have at least a couple more years to play.

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So, herding went surprisingly well, both Carol and I did not expect that. Both of us also assumed Haku would have no issues traveling with her. He knows her and her dogs well, and he’s a good boy – and, come on, he’s 9 and traveled all his life. It started off well, when I dropped him off he just ran off and jumped into her car without us even asking. Border collies, you gotta love how they just make themselves at home wherever they go, certainly no worries about leaving me behind. And he was comfortable and not worried at all the whole trip, he was having a party the whole time.

Unfortunately this party included some very ‘bad dog’ moments. Haku, who is so polite in my household was not waiting for his turn for the toy, pissing off all the briards, peeing in the hotel room, eating holes in Carol’s (only) sweatshirt pockets and just generally being obnoxious and NOT the good dog I know and love. So, yeah, that part did not go as smoothly. I hadn’t even thought to send a crate with him, why would he need one? Yeah, if Carol ever does agree to take him again, he won’t be living the freewheeling bachelor lifestyle that he did this weekend.

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And in true border collie fashion, no, he was not excited to see me after four days. He was like, “Oh, hey, what’s up – have you seen how many toys Carol has in her house?” Border collies, they always believe you’re just around somewhere, and he was having way too much fun over the weekend to think about me. At home it was VERY quiet without Haku, who apparently is the life of the party. Bright and Navarre weren’t quite sure what do with themselves. Everyone is happy to be together again though, I just love my crew. I love that Haku especially, and it makes me so happy that he was able to have such a fun herding adventure (for him, anyway!).

It also makes me excited to do more herding, with both boys. I’m actually thinking of looking into border collie trials for Haku (of which there is more in Oregon than AKC trials, I think). So I think that may be our next goal, though Haku would love to go back and doing some more AKC trials with Carol up in Washington, he may have blown that chance. Dork.

Apologetic? Maybe.

Not About a Puppy!

In non-puppy related news, I’m on break from teaching agility at the moment, just teaching tricks classes, which is always really fun. Fun also for me, as it gives me incentive to work on new tricks with my dogs. Last week we took a look at training the dogs to paint, which threw us a few curveballs. They all have the basic idea, but the goal is to look at teaching more sustained paint strokes. We’ll see if we get around to it. Teaching dogs to paint is messy, I discovered.

Middle of August – I can see the end of Summer! And what a long, hot summer it’s been (and probably will continue to be). But by mid-September I expect the weather to be much more mild, so only 4 weeks to go, hopefully with increasingly good days between now and then. Today was just lovely, it got nice and cold last night and today was overcast, mild and breezy with no smoke from all the fires. Gotta appreciate the good days while you can.

Haku had his last lesson before his herding debut next weekend. I had no grand expectations we were going to make much improvements at this point, but I thought it would be a good opportunity to have Haku work with someone else before going up to work with Carol. As I suspected, contrary to what normally happens, Haku was much naughtier with Dave than he is with me. Same sort of things that he was doing with Carol, running him over with sheep and being pushy and naughty.  Yet it ended up Haku had to lift the sheep off of me back to Dave and he had no problem with that. Haku definitely knew who he was working for … and was taking full advantage. Still, I think he’ll be fine at the trial, and I do think he’ll have fun. I have low expectations of actual herding prowess, but that’s never been the goal. I did work Haku after Dave and he was much better for me, just love that boy.

And then Navarre, he really is surprising me with how much he’s actually listening these days. He still has a lot of the same issues, but less so and now has other skills so that it’s just not always fighting about giving space and finding balance. I’m still so amazed that my big dorky puppy can outrun now! And maybe it’s not perfect, but it helps to be coming from a place where I honestly never thought he would. So I have changed my expectations of the puppy, we will continue to move forward with the assumption he actually can progress. That makes herding a lot more fun.

The big news recently is that after seven years Bright finally decided she likes swimming. Bright has been swimming a lot of times in her life, both with assisted swims in pools (which she hated) and voluntarily at our property or here and there. She can swim just fine, but she never liked it. She LOVES water, will always jump in and just hang out with her little head popping out. She’ll retrieve sticks and toys by sticking her whole head under water, there was nothing stopping her from swimming other than she just never seemed to like it.

But when I brought Figgy up to swim in Joan’s pool I ended bringing the other dogs, even though I knew they were going to be annoying as hell. And Bright was especially extraneous as she has BEEN to Joan’s pool before and didn’t want to swim. But it’s been so hot the dogs haven’t gotten out as much as I’d like, so I brought them anyway. And Navarre got to swim, and Haku got to swim, so when we were finishing up I let Bright up to go stand in the water, as is her thing.

Figgy did well with her introduction and just for kicks I asked Carol to swim Bright a little, which I figured Bright would hate, but, hey, what the hell, it was good for her. And then I don’t know what happened, but all of the sudden Bright was like, “Oh, this is FUN!” And was just swimming around randomly in the pool, sometimes for toys but mostly because she seemed to finally discover that swimming was not actually torture, but fun. So, yeah, she was ‘diving’ off the platform, swimming around, retrieving toys and having such a good time – go figure! It really made my heart happy to see her conquering something that I think both of us never assumed would change. Not sure why suddenly she did change her mind, but Bright generalized it to the river as well. She was a little uncertain at first, then she was just going out and swimming like she did it all the time. Bright now gets her turn retrieving in the river! I am just over the moon happy to see her finding so much joy in it now, so unexpected.

Figgy continues to do well with water. Same sort of thing as Bright, she loves to get in the water, will stick her head under the water to retrieve things, but Fig isn’t brave enough to swim yet. Hopefully we can get back to the pool with some assistants before the summer ends, that is a puppy that is going to be a swimmer, I can see it. In the meantime, it’s adorable how she waits in the shallows to grab the stick and bring it back to me.

Marvin continues to recover nicely from his neuter. He does seem a little more friendly and sweet, so fingers crossed. Then I ran out of CBD oil for Dragon, but that seems to have made him MORE hardcore rather than less. We’ll see if it continues, not sure how long he was on it, but that was twice a day for many months. It really did help him come out of his shell, I hope it continues. And Fizzy is just so happy to be reaching through Figgy’s crate to eat all this food she always has in there. Figgy doesn’t like that.

Looking forward to getting back into agility, excited to run Bright again and go back to working with Navarre. We are getting back into our conditioning routine and we’ll start looking at some low jump exercises to get the dogs back in shape for mid-September. I do like having a break from agility, as I feel so refreshed and excited when I go back to teaching/trialing.

A Much Interrupted Puppy Update

Puppy is growing up so fast! She didn’t stay cute for long, that’s for sure. Well, all puppies are still cute, but some get awkward real fast, and Figgy is one. Not one of those that grows even either, right now she’s ridiculously butt high and all over the place. I imagine it’s going to take awhile for her to even out.

Had some good training progress with Fig, if you get the right mood and the right rewards she’s really fun to train! She’s not the thoughtful nerd that Navarre was a puppy, but that doesn’t surprise me, Fig is a party. Still, it’s funny how much more connected I feel with a puppy once we finally break through that language barrier, and as Fig took longer than most it’s suddenly WAY more relaxing to have her around. She does finally understand that her behavior is what makes things go … or not go, as the case may be. She weighs her options, that one.

Food is still an issue, luncheon meat is still her favorite, while she won’t even give me the time of day for string cheese. Hot dogs are okay, Fresh Pet is better, but in general in true border collie fashion she’s not necessarily working for the food itself, but the reward of figuring it out. Well, once I get her attention. And, yeah, she won’t even look at food when there is action going on.

She CAN do behaviors for action, but there is a LOT of thought involved. And if other dogs are around it may really take some work. But once we got the ‘stay’ she’s really started to understand self control before action.

I did teach Fig to hold an object, which is kind of extraneous, but handy. She already was doing a lot of choosing to bring me toys, but having an understanding of a hold is a great bridge to a good retrieve. In general, the Big Three continue to slowly solidify. Her recall is pretty good, she’ll kennel up somewhat on cue now (though we really haven’t worked on it other than every day life), and her stay continues to solidify. She’s doing a pretty good job dropping wherever she is when I ask, and, probably most importantly, she’s beginning to understand the concept of, “FIG, KNOCK IT OFF!” for when she gets overaroused and grabs onto the other dogs … or thinks about it. She’s pretty transparent.

It’s weird having a puppy that doesn’t have a lot of TRAINED behaviors, but she does get points for being good about sticking with me. She’s an independent little thing, and very easily distracted by things in the environment, but for the most part she makes good decisions. For now, I suppose. Though I suppose when I think about it’s she’s the LEAST trustworthy puppy I’ve ever had. I don’t trust her not to chase cars, joggers, dogs, go see people – I’m way more cautious with her than I have been with other puppies. And she does make a lot of good decisions, but I also just don’t put her in the position where she would be able to make bad decisions in general … because I kind of assume she would.

Figgy is a busy puppy, and needs way more action than my dogs, which seems really weird that my 3 month old puppy needs more running than my adult dogs. But exercise her or she’ll find her own way to blow off steam, and she’s creative. Once she’s ‘on’ she’s tough to stop, even if it’s 2am she throw giant parties with just the bed in her crate. Now, she DOES sleep, and usually through the night, but when she’s up, she’s UP. It’s crazy how she just never seems to get tired even running with the big dogs, you’d think she’d need to take a break, but it never occurs to her.

Puppy is very friendly, but she certainly isn’t cuddly – there is no time for that. She’s also surprisingly still okay with being carried, which a lot of puppies have been done with that for long time by this point. She’s getting BIG though – I can’t remember if I mentioned that she was 17lbs at her last vet appointment at 14 weeks. For comparison, Navarre was only 1lb bigger! I don’t think she’ll be huge, but she’s growing fast for a dog that doesn’t like to eat.

Still not housebroken, there is just not enough attention span there. If there is one thing that London taught me, it was to just chill and manage puppies until they’re ready for housebreaking. And some puppies that’s 8 weeks, but that most definitely not the case for London or Fig. I just manage it and take her out a lot when she’s inside, but it’s still kind of sad she just can’t hang out and chill inside. Maybe she WOULD be cuddly if she had a chance to actually chill … but I have my doubts she would chill or cuddle. Time will tell.

Since Fig lost weight again after getting sick after her last vaccination I’m back to just trying to get her to eat. So that means not much training at all, and I just make sure she always has food available. Sometimes she eats it, sometimes she doesn’t – definitely not a priority in her life. She did eat an entire giant turkey neck, which surprised me. I figured she’d just gnaw on it, but, no, she ate the whole darn thing! She does like raw better than kibble, but, yeah, tough luck, kid.

Still wants to chase cars, which may be more of a Hubbard thing. It’s not exactly a bustling metropolis around here, which means the cars on our walks are few and far between – and often at night. She’s definitely worse at night than during the day, and it’s mostly with cars coming at us or passing us – she doesn’t seem to notice them going the other direction. Once again, if I had anything she wanted in those scenarios I would work on it more positively, but mostly I’ve had to use pressure and release. She does, sometimes, make some very good decisions … and sometimes not. Thankfully the other dogs just roll their eyes at her.

Anyway, been too long since I’ve written about the puppy, in puppy time so many things have happened I can’t even remember. Fig is getting older, bigger, faster and somewhat more responsive, with me and the dogs. BRIGHT even likes her now. Well, to an extent. She will now play with her, which is huge. But if that puppy takes one toe over the line Bright puts the smack down on her like there is no tomorrow. So not a love affair like with Aja, but Bright does like raising puppies, I think. Navarre is once again somewhat okay with her and then also finding her stressful in many ways, and Haku thinks puppies are stupid, which doesn’t matter because they all just adore him.

Weather has been horrible, hot and such bad air quality from the smoke we haven’t really gotten out like I feel a puppy needs. At this point it’s going places I don’t want to go, as she is really good with all my really haunts. I’m never very inspired to go seek out children, traffic, crowds and noises – which is what she really needs. Luckily she’s a pretty solid puppy. She is more cautious with big dogs she doesn’t know now, but that’s kind of a good thing.

Went hiking with a Visla puppy her same age, he’s just slightly heavier than her and she was TALLER than him! I can only assume she’s getting her growing out of the way quickly. Surely she’s not going to be a moose? She seems to get along pretty well with most other dogs, she’s a social thing, though a lot of puppy. A good match for a sporting puppy.

The other big event from the hike was Figgy discovering the world of rodents, and she was into it. Fig has been really good at staying with the group and coming when called, and first she disappeared and then when I saw her way behind us she wouldn’t come when I called – which was a first. So I went to investigate and she’s digging and pouncing at something. Got closer and she brought me a nearly dead mouse – eek. I say she brought it, but mostly she wanted to make sure everyone saw this was HER mouse as she tossed it around and caught it in her mouth. And she was not going to give it up, unfortunately. So luckily when I scattered some treats for the other dogs she was momentarily distracted to go investigate what they had, I quickly kicked the poor mouse to the side and she couldn’t find it. But, yeah, I think Fig would like Barn Hunt!

So puppy is doing well, I don’t think she’s ready to do a lot of training, but, knock on wood, is progressing well with just fitting in and learning to be a good dog.

Vaccine Rant

I’ve had bad luck with vets recently, and bad luck with vaccinations. I’m not anti-vaccination, but any time you’re adding something to the body there are consequences, so I’m cautious. It does seem like there are just two sides to the story, with one side being, ‘VACCINES ARE POISON THAT CAUSE AUTISM’ and the other ‘ONLY ANTI-SCIENCE MORONS THINK VACCINES ARE HARMFUL’. And I’ve settled into a happy medium, I give the distemper/parvo puppy series until around 16 weeks and then rabies around 7-9 months, then pretty much ‘as needed’ after that.

I really don’t want my dogs to die of parvo or distemper, and I worry about what might happen if they don’t have a rabies vaccination and something happens. There are others that I’m not sure about, like lepto, which I think can be out there, but how much of a threat is it? I know I don’t worry about it with a puppy, so if I’m going to give it, it can wait as it does seem to have a lot more side effects that a puppy doesn’t need. And as to how long vaccines last … that’s another question. How many old dogs do you know getting parvo though? I know a lot of puppies, never heard of a 10 year old dog getting parvo, though I’m sure it probably happened at some point. So I go with the assumption that for a lot of dogs the puppy series will give them lifelong immunity. And I accept that I could be wrong.

So back in the day, when I first had pets (just cats at this point), I tried to be the best responsible owner. Any little thing I would take them to the vet, I gave them all the vaccinations, every year, for my indoor cats. Those cats were always sick with URIs, urinary infections, weird herpes things, overweight, growths, diabetes – you name it. I’d bring them into the vet and they’d fill them up with antibiotics, steroids and expensive veterinary foods and it was a revolving door of pet care – I knew our vets VERY WELL back then. This was back in the very early days of the internet, and after one of my cats had a ‘penisectomy’ as he had blocked so many times they couldn’t even get a catheter in any more, I was definitely looking for answers. The raw feeding movement was still very small and very fringe at that point, but they said they had the cure for a lot of the issues my cats had.

Raw feeding and anti-vaccination kind of go hand in hand, so I very nervously went down the weird ‘alternative’ medicine path. At that point my cats were are adult indoor only cats, so it wasn’t that stressful to stop vaccinating. And the results were impressive, switching to a raw diet and stopping vaccinations made a huge difference in their health. And because I wasn’t bringing them into the vet constantly any more, it meant that they weren’t being pumped full of antibiotics and steroids (which I realize are sometimes necessary, but vets often had no idea what the issue was, so they would just send me home with one or another with no compelling reason to do so). It was quite the transformation, and it quite changed how I viewed veterinary care.

I’m much more cautious now, I don’t tend to bring my animals into the vet unless I feel they really need it. Because what is the vet going to say, for the most part? If they need antibiotics or steroids, I know where to go. If they need surgery or something gets infected, I know where to go. But vets aren’t magical places of healing, their tools are limited. So, yeah, holistic health, I try to look at my animals’ health from the full spectrum and I think of going to the vet as an option that is there for the issues they are good at addressing.

I am a little nutty as I’m not one for drugs in general, I think they have their place but I try to stay far away from them if I can. I’ve been lucky in my life to only have needed one set of antibiotics, and even that threw my body for a loop. It doesn’t mean they weren’t necessary, but these things can have serious consequences, and as someone that is extremely sensitive to drugs of any kind, I’m very cautious. We do seem to live in a culture that wants to slap a drug on any condition you or your animal may have – but what about the underlying reason for the condition? We’re good at treating illnesses, we’re not so good at finding the root cause. At some point I’m sure I will get seriously sick, and I’ll be very grateful that there are medications to help – but until I need them, I’m staying far away.

Vets are interesting places, as they are trying to be profitable. I’m not saying they are not also trying to give good pet care, but I’ve worked at one – I know that yearly vaccinations/check ups is what makes the wheels turn. Get the people in, get the vaccinations, but then you can also push the deworming, teeth cleaning, flea meds, etc. Which aren’t bad things, but when I go to vet and they start pushing all this crap I know the angle they’re coming from. This last vet I’ve been trying out in Wilsonville said that my 8 month old cat needed to be dewormed FIVE TIMES in order to ‘flush his parasite load that all kittens have’. There was no fecal test or any reason whatsoever to even assume my cat has ‘parasites’, that’s just their policy. And that just seems insane to me. Same vet thinks Fig needs to be wormed monthly for the rest of her life – this vet is honestly seriously worried about parasites or they’ve found a nifty way to upsell products. I declined for both pets.

Anyway, so first there was Marvin’s rabies vaccination. That was, what, three months ago? He got sick and personality changed, different cat than he was before the vaccination. He’s back to being a little more cuddly now, but I can see why people think vaccines cause autism. Before the vaccine he was super friendly and cuddly, always looking into your eyes … and now he doesn’t. He went from being crazy about foods of all sorts to now he’ll only eat very specific types of food. It was definitely very odd, and distressing, I loved that cat – I can only hope he’ll return someday.

I did finally bite the bullet and brought him in to be neutered – at a new vet office. However, my old veterinarian from way back in the day recently moved there and I really like her, and trust her judgement. Knock on wood, I liked this vet office, they were good at communicating, kept me updated, didn’t try to push anything weird on me and seem much more modern in their pet care (they gave ongoing pain control for a cat neuter – gasp!). I’m going to give them a try, they’re about 30 minutes from me, so we’ll see how it goes. Finding a good vet that you really trust is hard.

So Marvin was neutered, which is not a super invasive surgery – and so cheap! He came home purring and happy and drugged up, and the other cats all wanted him to die. Luckily after keeping them separate for a couple days he seems to have mostly re-integrated with everyone. As long as I can keep Navarre from obsessively licking Marvin’s balls, hopefully he’ll be good to go. He was just recently starting to get more cranky with the other cats, so hopefully that will pass. And I’m also hopeful that he’ll get more cuddly and interactive again too. Fingers crossed.

So dealing with that this week, and then brought Fig in for her parvo/distemper booster this week as well. I’ve been much more proactive about making sure I’m clear that I don’t want to vaccinate for everything under the sun after my previous vet gave Aja a ridiculous cocktail when I left the room for a moment. And the vet I had been bringing Fig to had just distemper/parvo shots, which she had last time, no side effects. Until after they gave her this booster and starting talking about lepto side effects – WHY ARE YOU VACCINATING MY PUPPY FOR LEPTO? For fuck’s sake. It was a tech, she was very apologetic, but it’s not like I could take it back at that point. So, yeah, real quality vet care right there. So I left and then went up to Vancouver to teach Fig to swim – and she gets out of the car three legged. Fuck.

We actually did a little bit of swimming anyway, as I had gone all the way up there, and she did pretty good with a life jacket, but mostly just let her hang out. When she was distracted by the other dogs she was doing okay, but I think if she had been feeling herself we could have done a lot more with her.

By the time we got home that afternoon I tried to help her out of the crate and she just screamed. Extremely painful, could barely walk, obviously didn’t feel good. She ate a little, but mostly she just slept for two days. All my work getting her up to a good weight was lost, she’s all skinny again. But at least she’s feeling better now, running and jumping around. She did squeak a little playing with Navarre tonight and looked a little off on that shoulder again for a minute or two, but hopefully she’s about back to normal. Stupid lepto vaccine.

So, yeah, vaccines are a miracle of the modern age, but that doesn’t mean they are perfectly safe. And maybe that makes me one of those anti-vax nutjobs. But I’ll admit I’m much less likely to vaccinate my indoor cats for rabies now, and only lepto if I think there is a definite personal risk.

A Breakthrough … Maybe?

We had a couple gloriously cool and cloudy days this week, and I took full advantage. There was hiking and herding and very happy dogs. If Summer were in the 70s most of the time I wouldn’t resent it so much. Those days are over, however – nothing but hot in the forecast again. Alas.

Herding this week went well … suspiciously well. Haku and I did our little AKC started course and it’s kind of like our fetching work recently has balanced out with our driving work and Haku seems to have a better understanding of herding all around. Maybe me too, which I suppose is half the equation. He looked great, the work was easy (which, admittedly it SHOULD be, but hasn’t been!). Haku just looked so HAPPY, relaxed and confident. I wish he could stay this age forever, there is nothing like a 9 year old dog. No drama, no angst, no questions, just trust and friendship. God I love that dog, and I’m so happy that we pushed through and he’s gotten to do more herding. I don’t know how long he’ll get to continue, but even if he had to stop tomorrow, it was all worth it.

Haku did so well I decided to quit while we were ahead and give more time to Navarre than I normally do. He usually gets a few minutes at the end of my lesson, but this week he got more. And we had … a breakthrough. Hopefully. Well, at least for the first time ever he wasn’t just trying to ‘work through the handler’ to get at the sheep, he finally actually was giving and responding and was ‘light’ on his sheep. Holy crap, I never thought I’d live to see the day.

I just had Dave work with him, which sometimes goes well, sometimes doesn’t, but it usually the same issues whether he works for me or Dave. And it started off as usual, lots of just pressure, pressure, pressure and trying to get Navarre to down, to give space, to bend, etc.  And, admittedly he has gotten BETTER, but it’s always the same thing, he’s just trying to get past the human annoyance in the way of his sheep. However, since we had more time today, they went longer and Navarre finally decided to actually … respond. And it you could see Navarre was a little mad/sad about the whole thing, but the difference was amazing. Suddenly he could outrun and and not shove the sheep past the handler and just wasn’t fighting every step of the way. So they spent some time in the one field, then even went into the larger field with the trees and Navarre actually looked like … a sheepdog. Like he finally, reluctantly, decided that this was actually a team sport.

So color me surprised, I honestly thought he’d never really make any real progress in herding, but if he actually continues to respond maybe he can actually herd, not just chase sheep around. Maybe. There was some confusion which Dave explained to me, he had been using ‘come-bye’ and Navarre hadn’t been responding, and he finally realized Navarre was just coming to him on that cue, once he went to ‘go-bye’ the confusion was gone. And I learned that REAL herding people use ‘come-bye’ and that ‘go-bye’ is an AKC herding term. Go figure. Yes, I’ll still be using go-bye, because, yes, come means, well, ‘come’.

Anyway, that wasn’t easy for Navarre, there was a lot of pressure involved and not how Navarre thinks it should be done. But the thing is, as soon as Navarre started actually taking the pressure, he was getting TOO ‘light’ – so an interesting contradiction in my boy. Insensitive until he’s decided that now he’s too sensitive. Makes me excited to work with him more, assuming that he doesn’t just revert back to total dork. And he IS a good boy, maybe he finally realized what the point we were trying to make for the last 2 years was. Or maybe not. Time will tell.

But, if he does continue with herding, which I hadn’t planned on once Haku retires, it does add another point into the ‘get another border collie’ column, because border collies can herd, while many other breeds would not have that option. I am also looking at a very fun border-whippet cross, the repeat breeding of a litter that is on the ground now. Watching that litter grow is so fun, such adorable puppies! And different, I’ve been stalking border-whippets online and they are very sighthoundish. We’ll see how how this litter grows. In many ways I’d like to get TWO puppies, a border collie and a border-whippet, but that would be silly. And it’s not like one of those is tiny and can count as ‘half’ a dog. Also looking at seeing about potential sires for a Dove litter, which I think would be really fun. Then I can I see what Dove puppies are like. Still, it’s just fun to think about, not even close to making the big decision yet.

Then there is the puppy at home, or rather, that wasn’t at home this weekend! Heidi took Figgy to the trial and out and about with her this weekend, which I’m very grateful for the puppy break. Heidi is the best puppy socializer! It is official, Fig is heading into a more sensitive period. I had noticed this week that she was uncertain about a new dog this week, and she hid between my legs, and she had some similar incidents with Heidi. A less bold Fig is definitely different! But not totally unexpected, Dove and Navarre was also pretty oblivious as tiny babies and then got more sensitive as they got older. Fig isn’t doing anything alarming, just actually showing caution with things that could be scary. But not always, so we’ll see how it progresses. Heidi got her out and about eating at a restaurant and going to the hardware store and visiting new dogs and places. Apparently Fig was totally comfortable at the agility trial and was actually EATING HER KIBBLE as treats! So that’s new and exciting. Heidi said she was a very good girl, very appropriate with her dogs and listening when they told her to back off and not being naughty at all. Good puppy.

Nothing really new in the world of Fig training, she’s mastered balancing on the fitbone, we introduced a rear foot target on her pedestal and staying while I walk 360 degrees around her and staying in whatever position she’s in. Nothing is really trained still, we’re in no rush. She DOES know how to do a tunnel now! Which was not on my list but she started exploring a straight 10 foot tunnel at the arena and I rewarded her for it so she was going through that a little, which was cute. Today she was watching Carol’s dogs do some agility and afterwards chased Demi through a long curved tunnel, then she could do curved tunnels! Well, that one anyway. Was interesting to watch her adjust her behavior when she WANTED to jump and bite and body slam Demi like she does with my dogs, but she didn’t want to get eaten. It was really cute how she did try a couple nibbles on Demi’s back legs, but quickly decided that was a bad idea. She is listening better now, she’s not quite the little hellion that she used to be and has more fans now that she’s not so naughty. She’s sweet and fun and not a bad puppy.

Then the big news, Haku is officially entered in a herding trial! Carol and Haku practiced together today and while Haku was kind of a pushy dork, they should hopefully be able to get through an AKC started course. Theoretically. Carol finds it really weird that you can’t really praise my dogs when they’re working, as that means they can go get the sheep and messes up whatever you’re doing. I much prefer agility where we get to smile and laugh and have FUN, but the boys really like their herding.

So Carol will take Haku with her up to Washington for a trial in August. I think Haku will be fine with that, he knows her and her dogs well and hasn’t had any worry working with her. I’d like to think he’ll behave himself, he IS nine after all – and it’s Haku, he’s a good boy. There aren’t any AKC trials locally, so this will give him a nice introduction to trialing. I don’t expect him to do WELL, but I think he’ll have fun and have a grand adventure. Haku needs all the adventures!

I did work Navarre up at Brigands today and he wasn’t a TOTAL dork, not like he was last time. He wasn’t as responsive as he was earlier in the week, but I did feel like he was trying and would give … somewhat. Baby steps, always baby steps with Navarre.

And for Bright, I’m pretty sure I caught her attempting to play with Fig today. I peeked out the backdoor and she was upside down on the dogbed, giving flirty eyes to the puppy. So, maybe? I know as soon as Heidi took Fig for the weekend Bright was all over Navarre wanting to play, which was interesting. The dogs also got to go on a full length hike this week, no having to shorten it for puppies – so they were pretty happy. I am starting to miss agility, we will definitely be ready for action when Fall rolls around.

3 Months!

Wow, what a summer – all this record breaking heat is getting old fast. Newest record broken, longest streak of 90+ days in a row in July, 10, in fact. Which is hard on the dogs, it’s too hot to take them out even later at night, it’s still 90 degrees! Puppies need action though, and you can only do so much mental work with Figgy, you know, like a minute.

And forget about taking her out into more public areas, it’s way too hot. Knock on wood, Figgy has been pretty solid about new places and people, so hopefully we’re not missing out on anything important. At 3 months she’s pretty much been to all the places I normally go, which does not include any real city life, traffic or crowds. Not things I enjoy! I’d be curious to see if you did stick Fig in a city if she’d still try to chase every car. Or her head would explode. We’ll have to find out, one of these days.

Figgy is maturing and we occasionally are able to train a little here or there. She has been enjoying roast beef and provolone recently, and for multiple sessions! So maybe that’s her thing, expensive deli items. Whatever works. I haven’t attempted to use them outside of a boring house though, I imagine she’d still spit them out. Because our training has been so haphazard nothing is at all really trained. I always have such good intentions to ‘clean up’ a behavior when we start training, but she just takes everything in other directions, because if you get too focused on one thing she’ll leave, so you have to go with where the wind takes her. Good thing I’m used to taking the round about route to training, I know it will all work out in the end.

She has kind of had the moment of realization that her behavior makes the game go, she does offer behavior, but she’s still not pushing me and really problem solving anything yet. So lots of prompting and luring by me still, with a high rate of reinforcement and going with a new direction if that’s how it takes her. We have waving with both paws – now on a platform! She LOVES roll over and play dead, it’s hard to get her to stop just flopping around on her back. She finally is offering back-up, her down CAN be a nice foldback down, but she likes to come forward. She knows spin but has a definite preference for one direction over the other, the same with her pedestal pivot. She is surprisingly bad at wobbly things, she just falls off so easily – which is funny as she’s so athletic in many ways, but not in a THOUGHTFUL way, so lots to work on there. We’ve started leg weaving, she actually seems to like hand touches and we’ve worked on restraint. So far haven’t had any issues trimming nails as long as I’m nice and patient, sitting still is not her natural state. We did a crash course in staying while hiking last week, which went surprisingly well and has continued at home … in some situations. In others she acts like she has no concept.

My goal was to work on stay, recall and crate, and they are all better than they were, anyway. Figgy is surprisingly attached to her crate, especially considering her initial drama with confinement. She now WANTS to sleep in it at night and goes in willingly to eat. Yes, that’s right, Figgy is now sometimes voluntarily eating! And is it the most expensive kibble? No, of course not, of our kibble varieties we tried, she likes American Journey, which I got because you get 50% off your first bag. But she likes it … to a point, anyway. She munches on it, rarely finishes it, but is eating what she needs, she feels fine, a little scrawny, but I think that’s fine for a puppy. So it’s just available in her crate whenever I put her in and she often actually seems somewhat enthused to see it.

Fig is still in her crate quite a bit, because she still pees ALL THE TIME. And just no discrimination. I’m always trying to get her to potty before we have house time, and she just goes out to squat on the concrete, right next to the grass, constantly. So weird. And it’s never large amounts, so she can be ready to pee again. And as long as she’s busy and moving around, she’s fine, but not at all trustworthy to just hang out in the house, and probably won’t be for some time. But she has learned that peeing outside gets the environmental reward of getting to play inside, and that’s powerful.

Dogs are kind of done with her in many ways, but Fig is actually getting more sensitive. If she gets told off by a dog she SOMETIMES comes and sulks next me … and sometimes just seems oblivious. Navarre is the biggest puzzle, sometimes he seems to LOVE her and races around the yard with and wrestles and has a great time. And sometimes he won’t go near her, hides around the side of the house and tells her off quite severely. Bright and Haku don’t like her, but, once again, they don’t HATE her. Bright does like to tell Fig and Navarre to stop playing, but that’s just normal Fun Police stuff.

Figgy is 3 months old today, and starting to get busier, but more interactive. There’s more of a brain in there that is thinking about things instead of just reacting. With all the hot weather I think she was bored and she ripped up a bunch of my new plants in the yard. Sigh. But, yeah, puppy stuff. She’s more obnoxious to the cats now too. Definitely not the easy to assimilate puppy, I have to a lot more managing with Fig. I think we can start to actually do some training now though, I think we’ve gotten past the infant stage.

I have been trying to take some video of her here and there, I need to collect it all for that first month and put it together. I did do a little training video the other night, just really simple stuff: