Obedient Navarre

Navarre’s big obedience debut! Haku and London both had their AKC obedience debuts at the big SDTC trial, and now Navarre as well. And all three dogs got their CDs at this trial too! It’s such a nicely run event, they make it feel very special – and ever so close to my house! I’m always surprised that obedience has a bad reputation, I’ve always felt the people were very nice, supportive and welcoming. It was good to see the obedience folks I hadn’t seen since Haku retired, fun to be back.

I was not overly worried about Navarre in the trial atmosphere, we did do a lot of work in obedience when he was younger and he understands that silence = good, he has been working for delayed reinforcement all his life and we have worked a LOT on focus and attention in busy places – as he’s always been pretty outwardly focused. So, yeah, I felt like while our obedience might not be super precise, we could at least handle the environment.

Navarre is such a good boy, and so much more relaxing to work with in obedience than Haku, who you always had to CALM DOWN (funny enough). Navarre finds it kind of fun, but doesn’t go supersonic with excitement. We had never actually done a full routine without any rewards, so he was a little puzzled at the format, but he was trying hard the whole time.

Day one I learned a lot. I knew they had added a ‘get your leash’ stay exercise at the end of novice, and I did watch one run before I went to warm up Navarre. I did not watch it very carefully, apparently! So I almost got us NQd when I skipped having the judge tell me I could go back to my dog after getting my leash on that exercise. Whoops! And then Navarre did his ‘spontaneous kickback stand’ when I told the judge we were ready on the recall exercise, which is an issue he’s had since he was a puppy. So we both lost us some major points, but we squeaked through with a Q for his first attempt!

Still, he was trying really hard, he was only mildly distracted by some partying going on in the other ring, he did great with the atmosphere and never barked once! His heeling was a lot less forgey than it has been, with him being way TOO responsive as I was trying to overhandle a bit (though still plenty forgey!). No problem with the stand and he RAN on his recall – which it took us YEARS to do that, no idea why he always thought that exercise was so stupid. He didn’t sit pretty on his long sit or play dead on the long down! That was my biggest worry, so super happy with that. A big trial, so we were packed in there, with the dogs back to back, like 12 dogs. He took it all in stride though, because he’s an awesome boy.

He was just trying really hard to be correct for ALL the things, which is funny how serious he can take things sometimes. But his tail was wagging and he was happy and having a good time. The only thing he DIDN’T like was being crated in the building, which is something I NEVER do. I don’t think he’s ever seen it before, so he was sort of indignant about that. You really do need to have a crate in the building for obedience though, and he figured it out by the end of the weekend.

Day two we were both feeling a bit more in the game, I at least knew all the exercises now and learned to not say ANYTHING when asked if I were ready for each exercise – I just did the nod and smile. So no spontaneous kick back stands, I didn’t screw up any exercises for not listening to the judge and Navarre was focused and happy the whole time. We ended up with a 196 and third place, I’m pretty sure almost all of our points lost were on forging in heeling, which as he’s doing what we’ve trained to do, I had no complaints with at all. I’m thinking we’ll be back for another trial, and I know we have heeling work to do if we want to improve. But no big stupid mistakes this time, just one really happy Navarre. Though I’ve never been so worried about a dog on a sits and downs, I kept waiting for him to do something weird. Thank god they’re only a minute. No issues though, he’s one very good dog.

Day three, I think we were both a little sloppy. I wouldn’t have entered three days if it wasn’t so close, and I wasn’t feeling pretty optimistic we could finish his CD in a weekend. Much less dogs on Sunday, Navarre was supposed to be third in. We came in the building and it was surprisingly cold, Navarre was sort of bouncy and distracted on our way in, lunging to hug random people. I think he’d had enough with the whole ‘quiet and polite’ thing. So I put up the goofball to get checked in and watching the heeling pattern … and then the first dog leaves almost immediately after entering the ring and the second dog is absent – Navarre is up! Yikes, we go straight from the crate to the ring with zero warm up … and it showed. We had way more goober, he barked on the slow as he was ready for ACTION and he was really cute, but just sort of goofy and playful and not exactly focused on the task at hand. Still, he was having a VERY good time, we still had no problem doing the exercises, just mostly a lot of sloppy heeling and feeling like he wasn’t totally connected. So, lesson learned – warm up your dog, even if you THINK you have 10 minutes!

Stays were fine, yet again – so that was Navarre’s CD title! Super proud of the little booger, I thought he could do it and he honestly seemed to enjoy himself. And now that he did that without drama, that means we at least have to finish his CDX. Then maybe get a UD as well, depending on how things go. He really just needs to be taught a go-out and he’s actually been introduced to everything else. I don’t have any grand ambitions for obedience, and I never have, I’m not much into preciseness. But it’s fun to have a goal to train for, so I think Navarre could do it. We should probably clean up his heeling at least a little though! Proud of my goober puppy though, he did everything I asked him to.

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Haku even got to come in and see his obedience peeps, which we TRIED to do without barking … and did not succeed. Oh yeah, the days of constantly trying not to get Haku worked up and whispering everything. Still, crazy how much better his heeling is than Navarre, we had a great time heeling around the rings – he was really happy to be back! Haku really did love obedience, and not many dogs can say that. I briefly considered going back and doing some rally with him, too bad they put a jump in it – which is really lame. And everything in rally is SO CLOSE together, putting a jump in is just mean with a big dog, much less a big dog with ETS.

Meanwhile, we did a bit of herding this week, more shedding. More work on me sorting sheep and spreading them out. Then we even practiced a little by ourselves when we went to babysit puppies at Heidi’s. In the smaller pen Haku could come to hand and then I would send him around the sheep as a reward. He would NOT come to hand in the bigger areas, though he did very well with his square flanks and spreading out sheep. So, more work needed.

And Navarre seems to have forgotten his whistles with Ian, as they haven’t used them in weeks. I should work on them, but I’m not super motivated to do so. I did practice that stupid away whistle in the car this week when I didn’t have dogs for once, but I still can’t reliably do it, even it practice. I think I would have been a terrible clarinet player.

Finally, entered Navarre in his next agility trial at 24, so we’ll see how that experiment goes. Practiced at the arena and I started with a set-point exercise to re-introduce him to the height (we haven’t done for it a long time). He ran under the jump like 5 times! But once he finally realized that the bars were higher, his jumping seemed comfortable. Just … wider. Because that’s just what he needs! So we’ll keep practicing and see how it goes at the trial if we want to play with it this year or not.

Oh, and Dove puppies continue to grow. They had JUST started opening eyes when I puppysat this week, which is not the cutest age. But by next week they should be interacting and looking like tiny drunken dogs. Right now they’re squinty potatoes, well GIANT squinty potatoes – big puppies run in the family!

An Agility Trial!

It wasn’t really intentional to have this long of break from agility trials, but there were a lot of things that sort of made our trialing break longer than intended. Still, six months later, we returned! I wasn’t expecting much, and I’m always a little thrown by running courses by other people, which I just want to smooth the angles and make more distance between the jumps. I was surprised at how tight some of courses were, but big kudos for Navarre, he only ran past ONE jump and only knocked two bars in sequence (and one first bar, which I’m putting totally on him!). It’s hard for my big boy to handle though crunchy lines and squished spacing.

Both dogs were over the moon thrilled to be back. And I forgot to fill up on treats before one run and, OMG, Navarre will NOT shut up waiting for his turn. He was very excited, Bright was super excited, and they were just so happy. I’m lucky, as there are a lot of dogs that really struggle with stress and confidence in trial situations. Heck, Bright used to be one – but not anymore! Bright is at that perfect age, she’s come so far it’s hard to remember the days when she was so worried about the people and dogs and being ever so serious. Now she’s just a party – and also loud!

I really do love agility, there is no sport out there that to me is more about teamwork and joy. Makes me happy, makes the dogs happy, no matter what else I try, it remains my favorite. Any mistakes I had with Bright were all mine on Saturday, she’s pretty perfect. Trying to think, she ran four times. A lovely premier standard, and then I didn’t support a lateral send in standard and we kind of imploded. You’d think I’d learn – take one more step, she’s good, but not psychic! Jumpers was nice though, and premier jumpers she got as well, but ALMOST squirted off when I sent to a backside that she took as a threadle to another jump. Lovely threadles, lovely contacts, lovely weaves, nice jumping, no knocked bars. She ended up with 3 out of 4, which isn’t too shabby!

And then … there was Sunday. OMG, Bright was just on her own agenda! The off courses she invented were pretty epic, and the fun kept on rolling all day long. 90 degrees spontaneous turns away from me, amazing threadles on straight lines that I most definitely did not cue! Little Bright was a free spirit. She ended up qualifying in only one course, a jumpers course of pinwheels, and mostly I think she was tired at that point. I’ll have to say, maybe doing 16 runs for our first trial back was a little overkill, we were all pretty pooped for those last few runs (but I actually STAYED!).

Navarre had good stuff over the weekend too, and, as usual, a little more goofiness and a lot wider turns! On Saturday, our premier standard was nice, but he knocked the first bar and off course tunnel at the last obstacle, coming off with the running dogwalk if I need him to come in I need to be big and obvious. It’s funny how many turning cues I have to give to him, and so much earlier than Bright. Two very different running dogs! He had a nice standard run, but ran past a flat angle slice in jumpers (and knocked a bar). Premier jumpers he did really well, but threw in an extra backside (which I will take as logical … because he went out so wide!). It was not an easy course for my wide turning guy, he was trying really hard. Lovely weaves, lovely threadles, lovely contacts – lots of good stuff from him. Navarre went 1 for 4 on Saturday, but he does get bonus points that the one he Qd in was the one Bright didn’t!

Sunday we were all a little goofier, but Navarre held it together for a double Q. He had some really nice stuff in his premier runs too, but popped the weaves on an extreme lateral pull (which he nailed in standard after we fixed that!), and ran past a serp jump, I think because I put up a threadle arm ‘just in case’. Premier jumpers he took out a wing, which is very unusual for him, just misjudged, I think.

Navarre’s birthday is this week, we have finally arrived at 4 years old – let the magic begin! I think most dogs kind of come together at this age, and I think he’s ever so slowly growing up. We have another big test in his first obedience trial over the weekend, and, maybe, his first herding trial later this year. Four to five is a GOOD age. I’m kind of wondering if I should try to qualify him for WTT in Minnesota next year, as maybe he will be ready at that point. 24 inches just makes him go WIDER, but he can do it. It would involve flying to MN, but he’s a pretty solid guy, I think he’ll be okay with it. So … a thought. And then hopefully AKC nationals in Reno in 2021 – I’d like to think we’ll be ready for that. And Bright too, if she’s still running well, we’ll go down to Preferred at the end of this year, I think.

So, yeah, goals, maybe we should have some!

Shedding

Dove puppies are a week old! Everything continues to go really smoothly, they’re growing like … well, little potatoes. So they’re now BIGGER potatoes, and less dramatic than they were last week. Admittedly, they had a lot going on, what with being born and everything. Now they’re pretty content and trusting, Dove has been keeping them fat and happy and very robust. There is just something about baby puppies, especially at this stage before it’s all poop everywhere. Puppies that you never have to clean up after are magical. Give them another week and they’ll start to get more interesting – but, for now, they’re super cute. Right now the smallest girl and the red boy seem more laid back, while the others are more opinionated. We’ll see if that changes.

Eagle

Falcon

Hawk (look at how much pigment filled in on his nose!)

Kestrel

Kite

Navarre was happy to see Dove, though he apparently thinks that girls that smell like puppies are super sexy. Weirdo.

Back to herding this week, with glorious weather! Oh, Spring, I do love you. I didn’t know what Navarre would do as he’s been off for a couple weeks and has started getting wound up when we pull into Scio. But he was actually trying really hard, and Ian was being really quiet, and I think that helped. They worked twice, the second time there was more yelling and Navarre was more hyped up. Now which came first, the chicken or the egg, it’s hard to say.

Ian thinks I should start trialing Navarre in the Fall, which is when I think I’m shooting for with Haku as well. I want to ease Haku slowly back into things and make sure he’s holding up before doing an USBCHA, and summer is right around the corner – when I most definitely don’t want to be trialing. I’d like to think he’s either going to be primed and ready by Fall, or it will be clear that he needs to keep things short and sweet. As for Navarre, we shall see, I’m not in any rush and certainly feel no urge to trial him until we really feel like a team, no matter how many skills he has with other people.

So Haku did his first shedding! We had looked at splitting sheep before his rehab, but never actually worked on calling through. At Ian’s we got a big group by the fence and worked on flanking him back and forth, calling him in and then sending him on to catch them. Haku thought this was super fun! I thought he’d be terrible at the calling in thing, and we really need to decide on a come through the sheep cue, as all our recall cues have been ruined by herding.  Still, he did it! Helps that Ian’s sheep just want to go in separate directions anyway though. And, knock on wood, there was a lot of running to catch all these separate sheep, and no signs of the limp!

Then we also saw Dave to get his approach to shedding. Different approach and very different type of sheep. At Ian’s we worked with like … 20 sheep? At Dave’s we looked at 6 who were vaguely fetchy. Also started in the middle of the the area and not looking at calling through in sending around, but just calling in and holding, which is the actual exercise. With these sheep in this situation, getting Haku to come in wasn’t really happening. And while Dave says that ‘here’ and ‘come’ which are commands we’ve used relative to sheep far away for like a year should ALSO mean come all the way into me, I think that seems a bit unfair to the dogs. And our ‘hand’ cue we started on means absolutely nothing around sheep. So work to do there, but really has nothing to do with actually working the sheep, so we’ll have a chance to work on that portion.

I preferred how Ian introduced shedding, was more fun for the dog. I realize that shedding is a lot of just me sorting the sheep while the dog just sits there, so that’s definitely something I don’t have a lot of experience with either. So need to work on that as well, I never actually work with sheep without a dog. That will be our project for a while, Haku is such a good partner to learn things with.

Navarre and Dave also worked on shedding, which was helpful for me to see. I felt Navarre continues to be better behaved after taking a bit of time off. I’m happy to hand him over to other people after our rather tumultuous attempt at working together. We’ll try it again in the future, but Haku is much more my speed.

As for Haku, I’m cautiously optimistic as he continues to improve. This week he went back to joining in with running with the other dogs, at the arena and at the park. We also went herding twice, once with a fair bit of running and changing direction, and it was his first hike back as well. We didn’t go too far, but he wasn’t just walking beside me the whole time, but was running about. And, funny enough, suddenly Navarre was all about having the Stick now that Haku was back. Ah, dog dynamics – but I think we’re all happy to have Haku back in the mix, things are way too sedate without him.

So, no limping that I’ve seen. I have NOT been doing his Assisi loop, which, oddly enough he would usually limp after using that. We also have not been doing as much stretching and range of motion exercises. He continues to take his supplements and, so far, he does actually seem better. Kind of a Christmas miracle. I’m cautious though, we’ll see what happens. He’s definitely lost a lot of muscle and conditioning, so I want to see about getting him back into shape before doing anything crazy. His little rear legs shaking is something that never happened before the rest period, unfortunately.

Haku isn’t old, but he’s not young. God I love that dog.

Puppies!

Dove’s puppies were born! A couple days early, but apparently right on time. Dove was a total natural, no worries at all, took care of all the pups like a professional and has been a great mom. I love it when things go smoothly! This was Heidi’s first litter, and other than the unexpectedly early delivery, couldn’t have asked for a better whelping.

Five very cute, distinctive pups that are all doing great. Three boys, two girls -1 b/w girl, one black tri girl, 2 black tri boys and one unexpected red tri that was born last after I arrived. Now, I’m not a red fan (I like pigment!), and it’s probably because I got to see him being born, but he’s my favorite (Hawk). He has kind of self contained intensity that I like about him. The first born boy (Eagle) is the big bruiser at the moment and seems to be fairly hardcore for now, and the middle boy (Falcon) is the pretty one with nice symmetrical markings and some pretty tri cheeks. The girls seem to be pretty opposite, with one big white girl (Kestril) being the biggest whiner/complainer and the little dark one (Kite) being much quieter and sweeter. Now, as for who they will actually turn out to be, we shall see.

I do feel like these puppies are quite the sensitive little buggers, if you do pick them up or they get jostled a bit as Dove gets in the whelping box they are hollering their heads off. Dove and Navarre are damn whiny dogs, so maybe it’s just whiny genetics. I don’t recall Bright’s puppies being nearly so opinionated about the least little thing, but maybe I just don’t remember. Will be really fun to watch them grow and develop, and the theory is at least two are staying local and I’ll get to see them – that will be really fun. And Navarre will be SO EXCITED when he finally gets to meet them down the road, he does love his puppies – and since they’re DOVE puppies, I assume they’ll be doubly special.

Bright especially was just making shit up in agility this week, she was definitely in a mood. And not so much with the hard stuff, but the more straightforward exercises she was just doing anything and everything she could think of. Our first agility trial in quite some time is next weekend and I entered all sorts of things, just because. It’d be nice if Bright could at least pretend to be doing the same courses as me … Navarre was also a being kind of goofy, but not to the extent as Bright. And probably because it’s cute when Bright does it, while I have higher standards for Navarre. Poor Navarre, always being held to a higher standard.

 

No herding this week, well, at least for me and Navarre. Which is fine as it’s just been dumping rain, not been a great April for weather. Haku went up to a herding trial with Carol though, which I had in my head was NEXT weekend, so it’s good that someone knows what’s going on. This was Carol and Haku’s third trip together, so they’re figuring out some good routines and hardly any travel drama at all this time.

Interestingly enough, Carol said Haku was pushier and faster than he had ever been before, which surprised me as he had been SO careful since we came back after his rehab with me. But I think that’s the thing, I’ve been very careful with HIM, not wanting him to hurt himself that I think he could feel that with my handling. And then when he finally got to run with Carol he got to let loose and stop holding back. At least, that’s my theory.

Still, they did lots of nice things together! Finished his Started B title and got his first two Advanced A legs as well. Also his first NQ, where when he moved up to Intermediate B the next day after finishing his title when he went out on his outrun he was sure the sheep would be where they were the day previous, but, obviously not. When he finally DID fine them, things went well. And it sounded like while he was pushy and fast, he was still trying really hard and they did some nice stuff – and he obviously had a wonderful time. Apparently if Haku had his advanced title he could have started getting championship points this weekend, but he’ll have to wait until his next trial to finish that title. And then we’ll see how much Carol wants to take him, but I think they obviously COULD got his herding championship if Carol wanted to spend that much time with a border collie. We shall see, their next trial together is in May.

The good news, Haku held up pretty well physically over the weekend, which was the big test. He practiced Thursday and ran twice on Friday and Saturday and is sound since he returned. So, knock on wood, we will continue to cautiously return to herding. Oh, and learning to shed, which he definitely could not up with Carol. And I still want to look into doing more USBCHA with him as well, assuming he can handle it. Cautiously optimistic at this point. Biggest at the goal at the moment is to build his strength back up though, so back to working our fitness exercises and starting to let him run more with the other dogs again.

Falcon

Hawk

Eagle

Navarre got to work on group stays this week, which is not the most exciting part of obedience, that’s for sure. And, yep, same issue with sitting pretty. The good news, we got to work it several times over the week and we worked on it at home and I think we actually made progress. Only a couple weeks to his first obedience trial – I’m suddenly not feeling at all prepared. We should have been practicing, I don’t think we’ll be doing the best we can. But, hey, sometimes you just have to be shoved off the cliff or you’ll never do it. I still think he can do it, assuming he doesn’t sit pretty on the stays. He could totally prove me wrong though. Considering just going ahead and entering an obedience trial that is in conjunction with an agility trial in May as well, but that could be hectic trying to do both at once …

Kestril (with an ‘i’)

Kite

Busy week, busy weekend – looking forward to things settling down and getting back into our routines again. We do have herding this week, and FINALLY getting back to hiking and agility again. Can’t believe April is half over already!

A Herding Road Trip

I find it so amusing that I’ve had such incredibly good luck with weather and herding … until this week. And I’m talking for like over a year I kept missing the really hot or the really cold or the really rainy. My least favorite weather is heavy rain with wind – so unpleasant, and that’s what we got this weekend! Thankfully, not the whole time, but not the weather you would expect from Central Oregon. All my raingear I had gotten for herding FINALLY got a test drive, and, yes, it keeps you dry!

This was perhaps not that much of a roadtrip, but I don’t travel much and while I have lived in Oregon for 24 years (damn, time flies!), I have actually never been to Central Oregon. So that was part of the appeal, it’s fun to go someplace new and Central Oregon is very different than the valley. Reminds me a lot of Colorado, the wide open spaces and tiny trees. Very pretty in its own way, though the wrong color of green (sage instead of emerald!). There were some absolutely lovely skies over the weekend, without trees they do seem huge and the cloud formations were amazing.

Haku and Navarre are great travelers, making themselves at home wherever we are. They are such good dogs and they thought our trip was great, being very patient with a lot of downtime as well. And, of course, not minding being wet and dirty at all. Great company, fun dogs, that was also part of the appeal – just hanging out for the weekend.

As for the herding, I was hoping to get an overall feel for how Karen Child worked with dogs from beginners to more advanced. While I had worked with her like 9 years ago, I don’t really remember much about the couple lessons we had. Without access to sheep back then it was pretty immaterial. So, yes, got to see her work with a variety of dogs, mostly more beginners than advanced, in a variety of situations.

My big question was whether she used the same correction based system as I have been presented with, and, yeah, it was. Which was not surprising, and obviously every trainer is different and has their own system of what works for them. Karen actually came from competitive obedience before herding, and it showed in her corrections started with long lines and collar pops and pushing the dog into a down to teach them to down. She had to find a collar to put on Navarre to give him collar pops, since my dogs don’t wear any. Still, it was a lot of the fine art of yelling ‘hey’ at your dog, which is just herding in a nutshell. And obviously pressure and release and the reward being able to work the sheep, which is what herding really is.

I liked her games/exercises she presented – which is breaking herding down and working on the individual pieces rather than trying to lump everything together. There is a ton of lumping in herding, and I do always just want to stop and break it down and focus on getting the pieces right rather than trying to blunder through. We looked at ‘Double Wraps’ and their progression, ‘Top End’ exercises smoothing out outruns and lifts, and exercises for leaving cleanly on their outruns. Also some offbalance flank exercises as well. They were helpful and I enjoy breaking things down like that.

Karen is very much into being consistent, and I liked her common sense statement, “Dogs do best at what they practice” – and if they keep practicing the wrong things, obviously that’s what they’re going to do. So setting the dog up be correct every time, so they’re not practicing the unwanted behaviors. She is very much into obedience around sheep and spends a lot of time working on initial approaches as she thinks the first 30 seconds of a run/practice are the most important. She doesn’t think dogs should fail more than twice before you make it easier/more obvious what you want or break it down into an easier exercise.

As for my dogs, I had no particular goals with them for the clinic, I don’t think there is really enough time to make much progress in this sort of setting. Especially as I split my working time between the two dogs, Haku worked mornings, Navarre worked afternoons.

With Haku we worked once in the fenced arena and once out in her big open field with no fences. What she saw was she felt like Haku was coming in too fast (not surprising!), so we worked on first yelling ‘hey’ at him until he stopped that, and then trying to use ‘lie’ as a ‘steady’ cue instead of ‘lie down’ and stopping him completely. Haku didn’t get that one, he would just lie down every time. Then we got into how Karen does not think ‘lie down’ means ‘lie down until released’, but the dog should be able to get up whenever they feel like they should after that. This … doesn’t gel with me. But I’m game, I gave it a try but it found it hugely inconsistent as while she SAID that the dog isn’t supposed to stay there until given another cue, she corrected dogs all weekend long for getting up out of downs unsolicited. So that seems pretty unfair to the dogs to have that kind of random criteria, and frustrating for the handler – sometimes you really NEED them to stay, and chanting ‘lie down lie down lie down lie down’ while you’re trying to do something else seems hugely inconvenient to me. So I’m not sold on that concept, but I’m going to put it away for further study.

Out in the big field we worked on ‘driving to infinity’ and just letting him pick the line and then worked on keeping him on his feet and holding with his eye and not his motion. This was a good exercise for him and I’m glad we had a chance to do it in a new place with new sheep, he thought it was very fun. And did I mention how easy he is? And perfect? Because he is. He also is doing much better at lying down at the top of his outruns then he used to be.

As for Navarre, we just worked in the fenced arena as I was less concerned about the herding part as I was looking for advice to work with him without getting frustrated. And I think as he really wasn’t showing much in the realm of actual skills, she had the impression he was a tiny baby that hadn’t done much. People seem to think that a lot about him. And I’m not saying he’s not a young, inexperienced dog – but he does actually have quite a bit of mileage and skills on him at this point, at least more than a total baby dog. And maybe I should go out every session with the assumption that he knows absolutely nothing, I think I’d be much less frustrated.

So, yeah, I didn’t feel like I got a lot ideas to help with our communication other than, “Stop getting frustrated and be nicer to him,” which is not bad advice, but doesn’t help with him trying to constantly herd through me and not really responding to pressure (or anything else) from me. I still have to walk all the way into him and call him completely off the sheep to get him to lie down, which just seems silly at this point. Then we looked at some flanking where he was too close and too tight and me putting pressure on him didn’t make any difference at all. So, as usual, at the end of that it just seems like we made zero progress. He is better about lying down though, since we’ve been working our herding plan, and I am better at using my calming inside voice (sometimes).

I will try the short exercises that she presented with Navarre when we get a chance to practice, I think that should give us something to do where hopefully I’ll have a plan and a response when things go wrong. But I don’t have any burning ambitions to get working with him and sheep, that’s for sure!

However, it remains really fun with Haku, and it makes him so happy. He did some hard running and big outruns at the clinic and seems to be holding up okay. I didn’t give any metacam and we didn’t do our normal exercises and stretching over the weekend. Knock on wood, he seems to be okay tonight. He’s not perfect, but nothing like he was. So it gives me tentative hope that we can do some trials, as this was more than he’d do at a trial and seems okay. There is a USBCHA trial up at Fido’s in May, was considering entering him in Pro-Novice because, hey, why not? We’re not doing much herding between now and then, but he can theoretically do it. We shall see …

Meanwhile, back at home it sounds like Bright had a fabulous time with my mom and was very happy to see me and the boys, just love that girl. Of the cats, apparently Dragon missed me the most. Go figure.

We don’t have much herding on the schedule at the moment (other than Haku’s AKC trial), going to continue to take it easy with Haku and hope he continues to improve. If he does we’ll get back to some practicing and actually thinking about training things like shedding.

Meanwhile, our next big project is getting Navarre ready for his obedience debut. We did an impromptu group stay practice today – and he just kept sitting pretty again. Yeah, need to fix that in the next couple weeks! Now that we’re done with our herding adventures for a while, I finally feel ready to focus on it.

In other news, Figgy is looking for a new home – she was the little red merle puppy I raised last year. Apparently she was being a bitch to the other girl in the household (who just happens to be Bright’s sister!), so she blew her chance for a good home. So that’s a bummer, but other than the bitchiness she sounds like she’s doing well, has a nice foundation in agility and is looking for a home that can handle her and all her girly attitude.

Countdown

2019 sure has gone by fast, can’t believe it’s April already! Herding vacation is this weekend, which has become All About Navarre and is kind of our herding finale before moving on to other things. We will continue to herd, and both Haku and Navarre will still get to play regularly – but with Haku’s limitations and Navarre … being Navarre, I don’t have any big plans for it at the moment. We really had a lot of fun over the winter, and I love to learning new things. Obviously still have lots left to learn, but I don’t think I have the right dog to really explore it at the moment. Haku may continue to improve physically this year, and Navarre may continue to improve mentally this year – but we’re kind of in a holding pattern for now.

I did attempt to do my homework with Navarre, which was work on whistles – we went down to Heidi’s and I took out both boys and Navarre was just being Navarre, mindless flanking brings out all the bad habits he used to have, so I wasn’t super inspired to work on whistles. I just could not get that Away whistle when I had to be talking to him continuously and I was just so not feeling like a team. Oh Navarre, you drive me nuts with sheep! And Haku just kept lying down, so we couldn’t work on whistles there either. Oh well, the boys had fun and it was SUCH a beautiful day. I say it every year, but I wish it could be Spring forever.

The good news, with this little bit of herding and some running around afterwards – no limping from Haku. We are just taking it easy this week and see what happens at the clinic. Navarre is so SO ready to pick up the slack if Haku can’t handle it. Myself, I don’t have any grand expectations from the clinic. I have enjoyed working with Karen before, I always have something to learn and it will be a fun crowd of lots of people I know – which makes it fun as well. The boys are good travelers, I have no worries on that account. Bright will pissed to be left behind, but she gets to stay with mum – and she LOVES her.

So big Herding Hurrah coming up quickly! Haku then has his AKC herding trial with Carol a couple weeks after that while Bright and Navarre finally get to do an agility trial again. And then Navarre’s big obedience debut! And sprinkled throughout, fun with Dove puppies. I am very much looking forward to a very fun April, I’m just sad we are going to miss a THIRD week of hiking in a row!

Worked on a little obedience practice with Navarre this week, still haven’t focused on the stay part, which is my biggest worry that he doesn’t understand. The rest looks okay, he can sometimes revert to super forge-y on his heeling, but when his brain in engaged he can do some nice stuff. Stand for exam looks good, recall looks much better, finishes can be nice. This should all be doable.

Worked on some serpentines in agility, which Bright rocks at and Navarre tends to go wide (total shocker!). I am excited for our first trial back in a couple weeks, fingers crossed for some fun courses.