Middle of November and it’s still consistently in the 60s – I’m pretty sure we’ve never had a Fall like this since I moved to Oregon … 23 years ago? It’s getting colder at night, but the days remain beautiful and mild. It really is lovely, but a little unsettling and kind of unreal.
We had a trial up in Ridgefield today, I can’t remember wandering around in a t-shirt in NOVEMBER at a trial before. Lots of rain and mud, yes, but not all weirdly nice out. It was such a nice day and me and the dogs had a great time. The courses were fun, there was no horrible spacing or bad contact approaches – so nice! Today we even had an AKC jumpers course that was interesting, how often does that happen?
Dogs did great, they held up their end of deal, lovely weaves, mostly lovely contacts (one missed running dogwalk from Bright, but that’s not really trained, so it’s not her fault), no knocked bars, and they were trying really hard. I have two just amazing agility dogs that love the game and I’m very thankful we get to play together.
I, on the other hand, just could not seem to bring it together. I ran 8 courses and screwed up like 5 of them. I overhandled Bright, I underhandled Navarre, I called too much, I called too little, I over indicated a turn, I didn’t indicate a turn enough – omg, I just could not get my shit together. And I was trying, but when I would try to fix what I messed up with the first dog, I would then mess up something else with the other dog. Bright and Navarre run VERY differently! So that was kind of comical, and the dogs were really trying their best, I just kept messing up silly stuff.
Still, we had lots of great stuff too, we all had fun and I was happy with our runs other than little bits. I’m trying to think what I came away with as homework from the trial, but it wasn’t anything specific. I think using verbals is helpful – the last course I ran silently with both dogs, and both dogs would have done great if I had just called them – silly off courses I could have prevented. So, yeah, stay connected, work every obstacle, don’t assume – just lots of overall good advice.
I like the one day trial thing, especially with Premier in the morning, I feel like we got a full weekend of trialing in one day. We have another one day trial next weekend, I hope it’s just as fun. After that, we shall see. Probably do a day of the New Year’s trial too.
But December I’m thinking about herding, still looking for big field training opportunities for Haku. During my winter break from classes I will have more availability to get out and about, so I think I should try to dedicate my break to getting Haku ready for a border collie trial. Or, at least, attempting to.
It kind of breaks my heart that while Haku does do lots of running around hiking, he now spends more and more time just walking behind me on the trail. You know, like an old dog. He’s real happy about it, just doesn’t feel the need to be tearing around the whole time like the young crowd. Almost 9 and a half now, certainly not old, but not young either. Just love that dog, I don’t know if we’ll ever make it to a border collie trial, but he still is having a great time training.
And Navarre is still not my problem in herding, he’s Dave’s – but if Navarre does go on a herding vacation in December, I’d like to think he’ll come back with some skills and I should probably, I don’t know, work my own dog at that point. I used to think Navarre actually herding would never happen, but I think he’s going to prove me wrong. Now, doing it WELL is another story, but that’s never been a requirement. All these herding people seem to think he’s a better herding dog than Haku – so now we’ll see if that’s actually true.
However, I was contemplating for my next dog about getting a border collie actually bred for herding. But it’s a scary concept, I like having an idea about jumping ability, getting along with other dogs, being easy to live with and being able to deal with a lot of environmental stimulus – all of which is not real important when breeding for herding. However, Karen recently imported a herding dog from Wales, who is going to have puppies from a nice herding dog – and she seems really sweet and solid. So if all goes well, I’m hoping to raise a puppy from that litter next year. There is a certain amount of excitement when you’re talking about a puppy from lines I know nothing about, that come from far away and I have no preconceived notions about anything. Looking forward to it!