Snow!

Oregon snow is such a tease, they will build it up and dangle it as a possibility, but often nothing comes of it. We did finally get some snow this week though – and there is supposed to be a bigger storm next week! So winter came late this year – just so I could have my Winter of Herding, I imagine.

It cracks me up how a dusting of snow can completely shut down the Portland area, but it is killer to drive on. It was lovely snow once it finally arrived though, Oregon snow is beautiful – even though I never got to actually see it fall, I enjoyed the winter wonderland I woke up to. Cold too, down in the low 20s, not used to this kind of weather, it’s been so warm. And more snow on the way! It’s been quite a few years since we’ve had a real February snow storm.

With Haku’s latest issue, I did decide it was time to try some more potent joint supplements and see if that helps him out. Especially in his wrists, he just has no shock absorption at all, so I imagine he has arthritis in his wrists and toes. The logical thing to do would be to try one supplement at a time, but as I got a variety of suggestions, many of which have very different ingredients, we’re going to try a few different things. I did order Haku his own CBD oil, which I figure even if it does nothing for any aches and pains can only help chill him out, right? Then a couple different joint supplements as well. He’s on some generic stuff right now, and has been most of his life, but I think it’s time to get something stronger. Then I figure as the things run out, I’ll see if I notice a difference towards the worse, which would encourage me to buy them again. But we’ll have several months to try out his new drugs. Or snake oil, whichever they may be.

While we’ve been off this week because of the snow and cold we worked on our come to hand cue for shedding. Navarre is very good, because we’ve worked on his so much – Haku still can confuse it for other behaviors. They both did very good at pushing in-between two other dogs to come through to hand when asked – just trying to create some artificial pressure to come through. They both could do it with exciting toys strewn about as well. So, at least we can say we have worked on a recall cue that means come in to me.

We did our first shedding lesson with Ian in the very arctic morning hours, it was a frosty foggy icy wonderland. Much like most things in herding, I don’t really understand it. But apparently now is the time that Haku needs square flanks, but really shouldn’t do them otherwise. How he’s supposed to know the difference is by me being close. How I’m supposed to tell him that, well, not entirely sure, but he did okay for not knowing these new rules. Our issue was his little steps towards me he’d make when he’d lie down or I would ask for a flank, didn’t take much and sheep were bending around me.

We were able to do some keeping the sheep between us while we walked sideways, we created gaps, his flanks were square-r, I have a vague idea of what should be happening. We did not attempt any actual shedding, just working on getting Haku to move correctly to stop the sheep and split the sheep. Something we can practice. Apparently I should have 20 sheep to practice this with. I don’t have 20 sheep. Haku was VERY happy to work and trying really hard, as all of this was close stuff I think we both felt more relaxed, even though it was new.

Navarre and Ian continue to move along, Navarre takes it all very seriously and tries to be correct (for Dave and Ian, anyway). He doesn’t quite believe in the world of inside flanks yet, so that takes some convincing, especially at a distance. Today he was pulling to the left for all his drives, for some reason, so there needed to be a lot of inside flank corrections to his path. He did some nice outruns though, I continue to be amazed how much distance he’ll give the sheep now. Sometimes, at least.

New project, I have to see if I can replicate Ian’s whistles. If Ian is going to teach them to Navarre, they need to be something I can do as well. This may take a while. I should have taken more music classes as a child. Herding gives you things to work on that I most definitely would not have otherwise. I ordered another whistle, but I don’t think that’s going to be the magic solution. And I swear a lot of the whistle commands sound alike to me. Dogs are pretty amazing for figuring it out. Or they have much better hearing for tones than I do.

In the meantime, more snow is coming! I’d love to go the forest when it’s snowing, but, alas, I’m not that brave and my car is not meant for snow or ice. Maybe we can think of other creative things to do in the snow locally, as I think we’re going to have more time on our hands if we get even more snow next week.

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