Discouraged about Haku, he continued to be off after last Sunday, same issue. It’s hard to know how to proceed, though I’m certainly glad we did do a full workup to know there isn’t anything more serious going on. Short term, we have a couple events coming up he will (hopefully) be doing, which is the herding clinic (at least part of it) and the AKC trial with Carol (which is not super far distances). Right now, I just put him back on rest this week and he’s mostly back to normal. He, of course, would much rather be doing things.
So the plan is to take it easy, get through our two April events and then decide if I want to try another extended rest period (longer this time) or just manage the issue by somewhat limiting his activities to try to find a balance between keeping him active but not overdoing it. Either way, our fun year of herding is definitely curtailed. There is a Novice clinic and trial in Idaho in May that sounded really fun, but, once again, Haku may not be up for it.
We did go herding later in the week at Ian’s, but just did two tiny outruns and then just drove across the field, trying to get him to stop lying down. It’s not just me, he’s obsessively lying down about every 3-5 seconds. He was a LITTLE bit better and not lying down constantly after our drive-o-rama, and that’s pretty low key movement wise, so I think that was a good thing. He was certainly happy! But, yeah, need to decide what my plan is with him, other than wishing he was perfectly fine (which is he is not, unfortunately). He NEEDS to do things, and he WILL go full out no matter what the activity – but we need a compromise here where he doesn’t lose his tiny mind, but doesn’t break himself either. Hm.
Now, for whatever reason, when we pulled into Ian’s this week Navarre was a screaming maniac without even getting out of the car, which is not normally his thing. And, yeah, he was SUPER HIGH on sheep. I was a bit surprised as he was doing some nice thoughtful work last week – but there was none of that. I didn’t work him, and there was much arguing with Ian. Which makes me feel better when he doesn’t listen to Ian either. I find it amusing when Ian is always saying things like, “The good ones always think they know best.” I told him that Navarre must be REALLY good then.
Navarre got to learn about waiting to actually listen to the commands before just immediately bolting off to do what he feels is the best option for that situation. So Ian would use nonsense words to see if Navarre was actually listening or just reacting to jump to whatever he wanted to do as soon as Ian said anything whatsoever. So that went as well as expected to start, but, by the end, Navarre was no longer responding to the non-cues and actually thinking about the actual cues. And when you can get his tiny little brain engaged, he was much more thoughtful all around.
So, yeah, interesting observation, in general Navarre tends to start horrible at Ian’s, and end up at the end in a good place, while with Dave Navarre tends to start pretty good, then gets sloppier by then end of the session. I do think since Dave takes much less crap, it’s just mentally much more difficult since Navarre has to be thinking constantly with Dave, while with Ian there is a lot more ‘wheeee!’ and then he kind of settles into a good space without as much pressure.
Navarre’s whistles are better in general, but I think he’s in that space where he’s not entirely sure about any of them at the moment. And, of course, Ian’s whistles don’t sound like mine really. We’ll keep working on them, I’ve only used his flanks in logical situations so far, we need to work the inside flanks to see if he really understands them (which I don’t think he does).
I do find it rather amusing that my two dogs keep diverging with their training, we spent the entire time with Haku getting him to STOP lying down, and then Ian spent most of Navarre’s time getting him to actually lie down. I don’t think I like either problem, can’t I have a nice middle ground dog?
Part of the reason herding continues to intrigue me is that I just never know what to expect. Navarre was a nutjob at Ian’s, yet was actually calm and listening at Dave’s this week. Now, as to why – I have no idea. The sheep were squirrely and not easy, and my expectations were low. But we went with my current plan, bringing down both boys and starting with me and Navarre, ready and willing to take him out if he was doing his own thing. But he really wasn’t, suddenly Navarre was being all thoughtful and relatively responsive. ‘Relatively’ is the key word here, Dave was all, “He took five steps before he downed!” and I’m like, “OMG, HE DOWNED!” Successive approximations. Today Navarre decided to include me, and when I feel like we were actually working together, I’m okay that it’s not perfect – it’s a calm, relaxing start. We can work on precision later as long as we’re not butting heads the entire time.
We ended up actually working on things, though my focus remains just remaining calm, clear and consistent. The herding part can be total shit as long I feel like we’re working together. Outruns weren’t great, but I chose not to pick on those as long as he would lie down at the top on whistle, WHICH HE DID! Every time! Okay, maybe not immediately, but I’ll take those five steps to start with. That’s a hell of a lot better than not responding at all. And we worked on some driving where he was taking his flanks (verbal) really well … just not stopping as quickly as he should of, so we didn’t get much in the way of straight lines. I felt better when Dave didn’t have an easy time with these sheep either in that regard with Navarre, so it’s not just me.
Today, at least, I feel optimistic we may get our shit together someday. Navarre has a LOT to thank Haku for, as I certainly wouldn’t have pursued it with Navarre if I wasn’t already coming out anyway to work Haku. Never would have guessed Navarre could eventually do some things. And, yes, it is nice to have a dog with more power behind him sometimes, as long as he’s using that power for good rather than evil.
I ended up working Navarre for maybe … 10 minutes? Before he started getting pushy and I pulled him for Haku. It was a pretty good session though (relatively speaking), I’d love for that Navarre to show up more often. As for Haku, really trying to not do much, we looked at driving and getting him to not lie down and not let the sheep dictate where we were going. So, yeah, if Navarre is actually listening, driving is easier with him than Haku – point to Navarre.
Haku was trying and responding to everything I asked, and he was super happy to be there. He’s also very cool with just being tied to the fence and watching without being a maniac. I don’t know if Navarre could do that, I have never tried – I’m just assuming he’d bark (Dave isn’t about to put up with any barking if he’s holding Navarre, naturally). But if they’d just stay quiet when it’s not their turn, that would make the whole switching thing better. I like having both of them out there, makes it easy for me to feel like I have something to back me up for working with Navarre and to give Haku lots of breaks. Win-win. Dave and Navarre looked really good together this week too, much better than Navarre and me, but, hey.
The herding clinic is next weekend – I’m glad I did dedicate this month to trying to get Navarre ready, as I think he’ll be getting a lot of the action, but I really wish I felt more confident with him. He CAN do everything Haku can though, and probably more, considering he has whistles and much better driving distance and confidence. Just because he CAN doesn’t mean he WILL though. He’s going to be sad that his Winter of Herding is over, we’ll go back to our regularly scheduled herding lessons after next week. But that’s okay, with Haku’s lameness I’m pretty much accepting that we’re just going to go with with what we can do now and not worry about progressing unless he ends up looking really sound again. Without any training goals we don’t really need to be doing much. And Navarre has all the time in the world, we don’t need to try to cram with him. I did want to actually attempt to work with him this month, and I’m glad we did, it wasn’t exactly fun, but we did make some progress. One step at a time, truly, if it were just Navarre I would have quit herding long ago! But now he loves it so much, even if we’re always a total hot mess, he gets to still play – it makes him so happy.
We’ve also been gearing up to go back to some agility trials this summer, and the dogs look good in practice. Not too many knocked bars and most of our mistakes are just my sloppy handling. Bright reads my mind these days, Navarre does not, of course. Damn honest dog making me actually cue things correctly. We played around with some fun weavepole stuff this week and Navarre got to run with Robert again, which he loves. Both Bright and Navarre just love their agility, I’ll admit I’m ready to train a puppy again! I love that baby phase where everything is new and you get so excited when your dog just does one piece of equipment. Still, 2020 is the plan for Year of the Puppy, though I am open to opportunity at the moment. Very much excited about Dove’s puppies, but I do want to wait another year. In a perfect world new puppy could do agility, herding and obedience – but I’m open to whatever the new dog decides they want to do. I’m looking forward to attempting running contacts with a new dog, and I have lots of ideas of what I’d do differently with my next dog. They all teach you so much.
My dogs are all still relatively young right now though, we have things to do! And we currently have a long term goal of AKC Nationals in Reno in 2021. PROBABLY not with Bright, who will be 10 at that point, but it’s possible she may still be running well in Preferred. Navarre should go though, and I did have fun at the last one – and it’s within driving distance, which makes things so much easier. He’ll be 6, which is a good age. The qualification period for that doesn’t start until the end of this year though, so we don’t have anything much we’re working on this year. Navarre is now in all Masters in USDAA, we just haven’t been to a trial to run in it. Maybe two USDAA trials this year?
And not to mention Navarre (and I) will continue to try to figure out herding, with a long term goal of actually being able to run in some USBCHA trials, but not until I feel real confident with our skills. No rush with Navarre though, he’ll get there when he gets there. I’d also like to at least get Navarre’s Novice obedience titles, and would be nice to get his Open as well. Then we’ll see if I finish training utility or not.
Suddenly, it’s SPRING! Just the most beautiful season in Oregon, everything is an unreal shade of ultra green and things are growing like mad. Where do all the bugs come from? Everything is just happier in the Spring, that’s for sure.