Fun to get back to agility last weekend! Bright had her 16 inch Performance debut and that was just fun. Lower jumps = faster dog (and happier dog!), which always makes things more exciting. She did great, including breaking her startline on her standard run and running to her leash mid-course. It’s funny the things that make me happy in agility these days! Such a good girl, she’s at the perfect age – our agility journey is kind of ‘complete’. I love that we ended up with a slightly naughty free spirit on course, it took us years to get there, including her ‘Too Serious’ years and then her ‘Not Listening to Me at All’ years as well. I love that funny little girl, and she loves her agility – VERY happy to be back. She did, ironically, knock a bar in jumpers. She looked good though, no complaints.
Navarre had some lovely stuff at the trial, including some great weavepole entrances and exits which I was thrilled with considering we’ve been off all summer. His contacts were good, though self releasing on his teeter – which I went with, as I prefer a running teeter. We may have to fix it later, but, funny enough, Bright was the only dog I had to go back and fix a running teeter with. Navarre had lots of good stuff, and then just some really weird … tunnel issues. Apparently over the break he forgot how to do TUNNELS. He’d run by them, around them, act like they were invisible – or, if you got him in, consistently turn the wrong way coming out no matter where I was. It was so weird, I had to basically leave two courses where I couldn’t get him to take a tunnel so we could finish up the rest of the course in flow. So, yeah, that was odd. And, yes, he now still needs one last standard Q to finish up his Advanced title – so, once again, doing 2 USDAA trials a year, this will take us another year to finish. Oh well, he obviously doesn’t NEED to be in masters if he we need to go back to Tunnel 101.
Today we went to a Barbara Currier seminar which CAT was putting on. I had no expectations, I had never heard of her, she’s from the east coast. But basically on her bio she had ‘ex-OMD’, and that kind of intrigued me as the whole creepy OMD pyramid scheme thing drives me nuts. I don’t have any issue with the training, but the marketing and cult thing is not my cup of tea. I like free-thinkers, so the ‘ex’ part made me think she may be someone I would enjoy. Still working on finding new ideas to work with Navarre, and everyone has a different perspective, so I gave it a shot.
Turned out to be a fun little seminar, just a half day with 5 people, a good group. Basically we just ran three different courses, no particular focus or outline. That works fine for me as I do mainly want to get specific feedback and ideas about Navarre’s particular issues. Funny enough, Navarre was actually having a lot of the OPPOSITE issues that he normally does, he was pulling INTO me. But I was also working on focusing on my handling and not using verbals unless I felt like they were needed (which is what we were working on before the break). I already knew he does better with more verbals, but this very much reinforced it, ‘Just say jump’ is a good rule of thumb with Navarre – it’s what he learned first, and obviously learned best. But, yeah, if I just indicate a line with motion and body language he runs just staring at me – give him a verbal, he doesn’t look at me at all. Go figure.
So Barbara felt his drifty issues stem from pressure, specifically, looking at him sends him wider. She felt if I stared directly at him when running he pushed wide, and if I look at his feet instead he was tighter. That was one I hadn’t heard before! I do, in general, run my dogs a lot by NOT looking at them directly … but not Navarre, because I’m always trying to ‘catch’ him and being very forceful and direct. So that may have been having the opposite effect. So we’re going to give that a try and add it into our toolbox to help bring Navarre in. We’ll get there, one step at a time. Stop looking at my dog. 😉
It was a fun little seminar, I’d go to her again, she was positive and fun, not too serious and, yes, a free thinker that is not afraid to speak her mind – which I appreciate in people. It’s funny how even hearing all the OMD names for everything just drives me crazy though. ‘Whiskey turn’, pish, just call it what it is, backside blind! And I have no problem with reverse spins, but unless they’re REALLY needed, they just put me behind.
I like trained cues, verbals and independence. At the USDAA trial the courses were nice and wide and fast, which meant I was behind a lot and Navarre is so good at driving ahead and committing to things … unless it’s a tunnel, apparently. I just don’t have a lot of young and spry students, commitment and trained cues are what make the impossible, possible when you can’t physically get there – and that’s a lot of the time for a lot of people.
Anyway, love agility, happy to be back at agility, have homework to get working on. We’ve started our online class with Polona and we’re going to be working on her advice for helping with Navarre as well. I don’t expect him to be a tight turning dog, but I’d like to think in another year, when Navarre is at the ‘Magic Age’ of 4 and a half, we’ll be pretty solid. We can do lots of things, but the running around obstacles and wide loopy lines is our nemesis at the moment.
And absolutely NO complaints about the sudden and dramatic Fall we are having this year. Normally September is pretty dry and warm, but this year it’s all, BAM, FALL. It makes me so happy to snuggle into my fleeces and walk in the rain. I’m so looking forward to using the fireplace and snuggling on the couch with my blankets and a lap-full of cats.
Figgy got out and about at the events last weekend, including some impressive grown up moments … and some less impressive grown up moments. I was super proud of her, I took her out into the big field at the USDAA trial, which means lots of other offleash border collies running around chasing toys. I wasn’t sure if she was ready for that level of stimulation and excitement, but she was SO GOOD. She watched the other dogs, but no running off at all, and was okay with meeting some other border collies as well. It helps that she’s MOSTLY very submissive when meeting a new dog. Well, except today, she was on leash and I was feeding her treats when Moxie came over to say hi. I didn’t think anything of it, but Figgy turned into a little savage beast after being sniffed for a moment. Ironically, I think it was the FOOD that flipped her switch. Now that Fig has more value for food she was like, ‘MINE!’ So, yeah, little Fig tried to take down a full grown border collie bitch (who did not appreciate it).
Then yesterday Linda had her incredibly sweet 6 month old border collie boy, who just had the nicest energy about him. I thought him and Fig would hit it off, but Fig has turned the corner – she saw this super sweet and unassuming border collie puppy and was like, ‘I will OWN you!’ She knew she could boss that puppy around and she took full advantage, telling him off for whatever reason, taking all the toys and being, well, a bitch. She didn’t get to stay out for long.
Not super surprising, she is a female border collie – but I thought the cute puppy stage would last a little longer. Fig is going to grow up to be a bitch. Hopefully not in a bad way, but she’s not the dog loving sweetheart that Aja was, that’s for sure. Fig remains respectful of my dogs, Bright approves of her level of submissiveness and regularly puts the smack down on her if she gets too bold. They they play and have a good time, but Bright is not nearly as lovely dovey with Fig as she was with Aja. So, we shall see what time brings for the newly bitchy Fig. If she causes any issues with my crew she’ll be back to Karen in a flash, but right now I just think she’s just doing normal puppy stuff that may not mean anything in the long run. Time will tell.
Meanwhile, herding had its ups and downs this week. Which reminds me, I really need to buy some boots and rain clothes, herding in the winter is coming. Ah, herding, so many things I don’t like about it – including standing out there in all weather. And then this week it was ‘shout continuously at Haku for 20 minutes straight’ and I did NOT like that. I don’t know what was up with Haku, but he was just totally off in a world of his own, could not take an ‘away’ to save his life and wouldn’t even call off the sheep – which is so not like him.
I’m definitely warming up to the concept of a whistle. Unfortunately I don’t know if Haku has time to learn whistles, but, yeah, that would have been super helpful when he was WAY across the field and I’m just screaming trying to get him information. Did I mention I don’t like screaming? And whistles really do have so much more nuance … well, than I normally use with my voice. I always feel better when I watch herding videos and they are tooting on that damn whistle CONTINUOUSLY. It’s so much harder to fix little things when, first, you’re shouting across the field, and second the dog doesn’t know if your flank means keep going or just move 2 feet to the side. So with the whistle you have a tiny toot that means move a tiny bit and long toot to mean, well, go long. Haku and I are missing that nuance.
Well, we were missing everything at our lesson this week, which was frustrating so we stopped early and I told Dave he was responsible for not yelling at Navarre, who was a total twat when we had him on the new sheep at Heidi’s. My expectations for Navarre were low … and he was so good with Dave. Dammit! So that was interesting, and it’s helpful to see ever since Navarre finally decided that Dave was worth listening to it’s been fun to watch them work together. I do think it’s a matter of consistency, I don’t feel confident with what I’m doing in herding, I waffle from over controlling to under controlling and not wanting to ‘fix’ things when I’m not sure who’s ‘fault’ it was in herding. Navarre just has no fucking clue with me because I’m not consistent at all, so I think he feels the need to take charge and keep control of the sheep. But he finally seemed to have decided that Dave actually knows what he’s doing, and that’s pretty awesome.
The other thing is that Navarre struggles the most with pace and distance, always has. So Dave just works on other things with him, he does outruns and driving and just makes Navarre successful with what he can do well. While I always thought you couldn’t (or shouldn’t) work on other things until the dog was confident with, well, the basics – like balance and NOT running people over with sheep. Dave just pretty much has been making Navarre successful with things he CAN do well, which I think will eventually help him with the things he’s not so good at.
So, this week, Navarre beat Haku in herding at our lesson – which is amusing. It’s funny how I will swing from, “Navarre just never needs to do herding again,” to “Oh, he looks so good!” But the biggest thing, he really does very much enjoy it. Navarre and I have very good self esteem, we can enjoy doing something even if we’re not very good at it – and herding is definitely in that category for both of us. I did talk seriously this week about sending Navarre to Dave for training, possibly in December, which is a good time. I think if Navarre could get the basics down where he was actually somewhat functional, I think he could have a little herding career. I have not had a lot of success doing that on my own though, so I feel like rather than doling out money for lessons where I fumble through it, it’s a better use of money to have Dave actually train Navarre and keep working on my skills with the ever patient Haku.
But the good news, Haku got to work with the new sheep at Poodletopia over the weekend and he was not broken after all. I didn’t have to scream at him, my semi-proficient herding dog was back. Which is good, because as he’s got another AKC trial with Carol in two weeks. Which pretty much fulfills my goals for him this year, I wanted him to go two herding trials – and he will! Next year my goal is to go to at least 2 herding trials with ME, which adds way more complexity.