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.
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.
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.