Haku Herds Again

Haku is off with Carol for another AKC herding trial this weekend. Hopefully they’ll have a lot of fun. I was really pleased with Haku in practice this week, for me, at least, he’s getting so easy to work with. He is SUCH a good boy and tries so very hard. He works best with Ian’s flighty sheep, he may not have much push, but with lighter sheep he looks really good. We didn’t do much other than practice all our basics with the hope they’ll carry over to Carol. But he was doing nice outruns, lying down, his driving looked great and he was super happy and relaxed. And then, of course, there was Navarre. Where Ian was like, “You’re a completely different handler with Haku than Navarre.” Which is so very true, but I’m not sure how to fix it.

So we started out just showing what a shitshow Navarre and I are together. And Ian’s like, ‘You need to slow him down, all his problems come from being too fast.” This is not news to me, I’m well aware of the that fact – but I got nothing other than constantly lying him down, which is not handling so much as just attempting to manage a trainwreck. So then Ian took over and Navarre was much happier and has no problem slowing down for ‘hey’ and ‘you listen!’. This doesn’t work for me. So, me and Navarre on sheep is still not working – but he was VERY happy to be back working for Ian and Dave. I think he feels they know what they’re doing.

Truly, I’m totally okay with never actually working Navarre myself. I would not have continued herding with him if I were the one working Navarre. We just make zero progress together and I think it’s a mutual frustration. Something just doesn’t seem to work with us, as I’m not like that at all with Haku. And they are two very opposite dogs, was talking about it with Dave how lot of people prefer dogs that are ‘too slow’ rather than ‘too fast’. Both Ian and Dave prefer the ‘too fast’, so they like Navarre. For someone like me, the ‘too slow’ with Haku is much, much easier. And I do think all the running around in circles around sheep with did with Navarre when he was young taught him that when he’s around sheep with ME, he does it a certain way.

Still, herding makes Navarre very happy, and it’s not easy for him by any means. He has to think and respond and there is a lot of pressure and it’s WORK. It’s an incredible mental workout for him and we will continue to do it as I do think it’s good for him. I truly don’t care if I never actually work with him or he ever competes, just enjoying watching the process and he always says he wants to continue. So we will.

As for new puppy, we will definitely give herding a try. I do assume that he’ll have interest, both parents are very keen. However, it’s not really something we even need to think about until he gets older. But I have some ideas about what I would do differently now that I know a little more. The plan is for me to work him, not farm him out like Navarre. I’m hoping he’ll be more responsive like Haku, but with a little more power and push (but not so much as he thinks I’m extraneous to the process!). Who knows though. I actually like how Dove works a lot better than Navarre. While Navarre is all about GET UP THERE on the sheep, Dove has always worked farther away, which is just way easier for me. This, of course, doesn’t really mean anything as to how Asher will work, but time will tell. I’m excited to try it though, I feel way more prepared now and maybe we can do it ‘right’ this time. Heh.

Navarre did work with Dave this week too, I forgot that Haku was going to be gone so it was just an hour of Dave and Navarre doing ‘brain work’ the whole time. Navarre was mentally wiped by the end of the hour, that is hard work for the goober. For other people he really is trying so hard, I was really happy with him this week too. The herding dogs were fun, happy and continuing to progress – it’s fun to see that. And it’s nice to have a good week too, that is not always the case.

Haku and Carol had lots of good stuff up at the herding trial over the weekend, and some unexpected issues. He just could not seem to figure out where the sheep were on the B course, even though they practiced the day before he and he had no issues. Admittedly, the B course field has lots of trees and obstacles, and he’s not used to that, but you can see that he knows where the sheep are, and then today just crossed over like that is what you’re supposed to do. So that’s puzzling, as outruns are usually one of his better things. Other than that issue, sounds like they had some nice runs with a very pushy Haku. Go figure, he’s been so good with me! They finished his Advanced title and won some championship points. So now I think they should most definitely finish his herding championship. I don’t know when the next AKC trial is though.

Oh, and I started Navarre working more on herding with toys, which herding people just hate. And I get that it’s not teaching him about feeling sheep, but it’s real hard to be dealing with sheep while learning directionals at the same time, if you ask me. Navarre can now do flanks around a toy, and, not shockingly, they’re SUPER tight. However, what we were working on was a ‘wait’, stopping in a stand on his walk-ups. And interestingly enough, even with a DEAD TOY he would still just blow through my commands. So that’s actually a good thing, we can work on that. If he can’t even do it with a dead toy there is no way in hell he’s going to do it on sheep. So we’ll keep working on it. Our homework is working on getting his ‘wait’ and going from ‘walk up’ (which for Navarre is REALLY FAST) to a ‘steady’ (slow walk) back to a ‘walk up’. So he can start having a ‘slow down’ button. Just need to make sure I never ask for a steady from a stop, only when he’s in motion.

I didn’t do any agility with the dogs this week, but Navarre ran at 24 with Robert (the Super Runner) in class and, OMG, he looked amazing! I really actually like him at 24 watching from the outside. A lot of dogs struggle with that height, but Navarre is just such a fluid jumper – love seeing that. I really hope that Asher is a nice jumper, fingers crossed. Haven’t entered any agility trials, I think I’m just too picky these days. For some reason one of the clubs up in Ridgefield changed their trials to one judge – which means SUPER long days for trials that size, so scratched that one off the list. It’s okay for the small trials in Eugene, but not up in Ridgefield. Another trial has that same judge that I had to ask her to fix terrible contact approaches THREE TIMES at the last trial she was at, and I’m done with that. I am still contemplating an outdoor trial near me, as I’ll have the puppy then and it will be good to get him out and about. USDAA Regionals up at Argus this weekend, I really miss when it was local, too far for me. Oh well, we get plenty of agility just throughout the week, I suppose.

Obedience-wise with Navarre we’ve just been playing with lots of waits and downs out of motion in informal setting with a toy. He’s doing a lot better, so it’s working. Still not what I want for the drop on recall, but it’s certainly acceptable. Because it’s the same damn issue we have in herding though, I want to fix it so that down means RIGHT NOW, not several steps. Still need to refresh the broad jump and proof the retrieve over the high jump, but continue to feel like we can at least squeak through, even if we’re not perfect. I’m probably spending way too much time looking at position changes from a distance when we don’t really need to do much variety since we’re entered in Open A, but hey, it’s fun.

And Asher continues to grow. And GROW. Good lord those puppies are beefcakes! But so sweet and people focused and TROUBLE. I babysat this week and wanted to try to teach the puppies to wave. So I got my cheese and chicken all chopped up, got my clicker and then attempted to get only ONE puppy while leaving the rest outside with Dove. OMG, they are SO FAST and determined! I spent most of my time trying to fake them out and beat them to the door and not crush any little heads. Fat little troublemakers.

Still, they all did REALLY well, on Thursday they were still only 5 weeks old and they all caught on pretty quick and were offering waves. A couple puppies, Eagle and Kestril were the stars, they were actually offering it without any prompting. Falcon, Asher and Kite (aka Flavia) were less excited about the food, so not as quick on the uptake. But they were all focused and trying and they all figured it out. I did two short sessions with each puppy, was really fun. Waving is a really easy behavior with heathen puppies, need to think of what I want to teach them next week. Target stick maybe? With Bright’s puppies, they were super uninterested in food, though they were a bit better maybe the last week before they left. These puppies seem very advanced for their age and didn’t seem ‘infantile’ in their learning, but were very engaged.

 

The puppies were also RUNNING out in the yard, I had my dogs out with them and they had no issues with that. Falcon tried to hump my dogs – ha! Great little tuggers, so I have to watch my hair. Just solid pups so far, no issues, they are all really nice dogs – not a bad one in the bunch. Really excited that three (including Asher) are staying local, will be so much fun to watch them grow up together. Dove continues to be a Super Mom, and my dogs continue to be completely uninterested in them. Fingers crossed Asher just slides into my household like he’s always been there.

Took the pups to Home Depot over the weekend, I imagine we won’t be doing much of this as they get older – they were wild and wanting to fling themselves from the cart. But certainly not worried at all, they took the car ride and cart ride through the store in stride. I never worry about them and meeting new people, they love everyone at this point. Navarre was more interested in them today, I think they’re getting to be real dogs. We introduced a wading pool today, but no big takers for that. Asher is going to learn to swim, one way or another. Next week I think we’ll be taking them to a pool, so we’ll see how that goes.

Been thinking a lot about puppy stuff, I should have this down to an art by now, but they’re all so different. And I’m doing two puppy classes this summer, which is always fascinating to see how the different personalities and breeds progress as they grow up. I think I walk the middle ground between the ‘feral puppy’ plan and the ‘your puppy never has a moment unstructured’ idea. I think not training a puppy you miss such a crucial learning stage in their life, but people get way too uptight about it too, and doing it ‘right’. As long as the dog is having a good time, explore, learn, play – it’s all good. I really love puppies. Two weeks and counting until we become a four dog household again!

Say Hello to Asher

Okay, it’s official – as much as I tried to be logical and objective, puppy “Hawk” has just felt like my puppy from the moment he plopped on the ground being born (Dove was standing up when he was born, I figured if he turned out a little ‘special’ I would know why …). My whole goal with this litter was to see what they would be like and decide if they might be the right choice for me and my household when I was ready for another puppy next year. I could judge them objectively as they grew and see if they were good jumpers, good herding dogs, handle stress well and see if any physical problems cropped up.

But, really, the reason to get a dog is because you like them, and you can try to order a ‘perfect’ dog all you want, but in the end, all that other stuff isn’t important. If you like a dog, you’ll be fine. Maybe you’ll end up doing things together, maybe they will want to do other things – it will all work out because you just enjoy living with them. And while if this breeding was repeated in the future, I can’t say there would necessarily be one that really spoke to me in the same way. The nice part about this litter is that I do know a lot about it, you can’t say for certain about any cross, but, knock on wood, no known health or temperament issues, they’re nice dogs with nice relatives. I think they’re going to be easy to live with, sweet and, just, well, nice dogs. Anything else they may or may not be able to do, well, you never know.

So, yeah, I don’t know what it is about Hawk, he has that just comfortable/magic feeling that he is just ‘my’ dog. When you get that feeling it just makes it easy to make that big decision, because they just feel right. That’s how I choose dogs in general, and maybe it’s completely random, but I do think when you make gut decision like that, you just feel more accepting of the dog for who they really are, rather than who you’d like them to be. I don’t know if he’ll have good structure, or how he’ll deal with stress – I don’t know if he’ll be a good jumper, a fast learner or have any interest in sheep. But I’m okay with whatever he ends up to be.

Though he DOES need to fit into our household, which I’m not overly worried about because he does come from very friendly, accepting dogs – and the puppies just seem awesome in that regard so far. So hopefully my crew will enjoy him. My three are very close and work really well together, really hoping adding the puppy won’t change that. Hoping he’ll be friends with the dogs and cats and we’ll have many wonderful years together as group. I think Navarre might actually like him (having two intact dogs may not work out, so that’s something to consider for the future), Bright I think will EVENTUALLY like him, and Haku thinks all other dogs are stupid, so I can’t help him there. I’m going to have a lot of border collie around here, that’s for sure. But at least they will be matching pairs, Bright and Haku are pretty related, and now I’ll have the Navarre/Hawk pair as well.

Next year would have been better timing, Bright is almost 8, Haku is almost 10. Theoretically puppy will be looking at starting to trial when Bright is 10 and Haku is 12, while Haku will probably be retired at that point, I don’t know if Bright will be. Another year would have given us better spacing so I wouldn’t feel like I’m pushing Bright from the spotlight. But on the other hand, it’s really good for me to have a puppy and go through all of that again, as it does make me a better instructor when things are REALLY relevant. It’s been a while since I’ve trained a young dog, and it’s really what pushes me to improve and explore different training methods and ideas. And it always makes me much more empathetic when I’m attempting to train a new dog – they are all so different! And they all teach us so much. While Hawk is a bit of a known quantity being Navarre’s nephew (and I know Dove very well!), they are all individuals and teach me so much.

So I’m excited to work with a puppy that’s going to stay with me, I always have lots of things my previous dogs have taught me that I plan to do differently this time. I love training young dogs in agility, and we’ll also train in obedience and herding, if he has the interest. Can’t wait to train tricks and new training ideas and introduce him to the world. SO MUCH that puppies need in that first year! It will also be super fun as I’ll have two of his siblings in a puppy class, so that will really be fun to see them all grow up together.

It is such a big decision to bring a dog into your life for 15+ years. I love doing the puppy raising as it does give me an opportunity to see so many different personalities – and then give them back. But when it’s your dog, it is different. It’s also a huge financial commitment. It’s easy to have a lot of animals when they’re healthy, it’s hard to say what type of health issues we may run into as Haku gets older. And border collies and OCD these days, so crazy common that I really worry about having to deal with that both financially and the logistics of surgery and rehab if that happened with the puppy. While there is no known OCD in Dove’s lines, and I have some knowledge of Rooster’s lines, it’s just so common I think anyone should be prepared for it. And epilepsy, ugh, I just can’t deal with that. Once again, no known issues with this breeding – but shit happens. I have been VERY lucky with dogs and physical issues. I’m just worried about my luck running out. I’m contemplating pet insurance for the puppy, which I’ve never had.

I knew that I would have four dogs again, I’m on the Four Dog Plan: A young dog, a competition dog, an older dog and a ‘floater’. I already have my floater with Bright, her and Haku are close in age. But we shall what happens, I have had VERY long lived dogs, Bright may very well live another 10 years, Haku could do 8! I used to think that was uncommon … I don’t anymore. So we’ll see, it’s been a while since I’ve had to do the old dog thing. I’m not looking forward to it. It was easier with a spouse that you could leave them at home with. But I have a ramp for the car all ready, can’t stop time, they’ll all just have to come with me.

My first red dog! Not my favorite color, I prefer pigment and Hawk isn’t even the pretty ‘dark’ red, he’ll look like rudolph with his big red nose. And I do expect him to be fairly large (also not my preference!), so he’ll be my big red boy (huh, maybe I should name him ‘Clifford’). But I don’t care about looks, I’m assuming I’ll learn to be a red fan once he comes to live me. You learn to love the look of your dogs. And we’ll have a bit more rainbow around here, he will certainly liven up the group photos.

As for a name, I actually really LIKED the name Hawk, for probably a whole week I was blissfully confident I was going to keep it. Though it should have been obvious WHY I liked it, what with HAKU and all. Whoops. So then it was quite a struggle to find the right name, as names are so very important and have such power. I went through some names I really liked, but they just weren’t quite right: Hobbes (from Calvin and Hobbes, “Bright Fame”), Linus (from Peanuts), Ezra (‘Helper’), Captain, Plato and Caspian all made the short list, but they just didn’t quite fit or didn’t quite roll off the tongue. Finally, I ended up with Asher – which means “Happy, Blessed, Fortunate One”, and I don’t think I could ask for more than that. Also related to a character in an old book of mine from the 80s, and I like that connection as well.

So now we wait and see who Asher really is. How much goober will be passed on from the Dove/Navarre side? Will he have any herding talent? What will he think of agility? Will he be a water lover? Maybe my first food motivated border collie puppy? I’m excited to get to know him, and I’m very confident with my decision. Bring on the puppy, I’m ready. Asher has been reinforcing my decision as he grows. I feel like we already have our special thing, that he knows I’m his person and he seeks me out. Maybe I’m just fooling myself, but he is totally my puppy.

Silvia is starting a new puppy class in June, so I’m going to join that. And I’m doing a puppy class with his local siblings, so another fun way to keep working with him. I have lots of things I hope to do this first year, and I’m excited to get started. Puppies’ first years are always a whirlwind!

Fido’s

Got a chance to go check out Fido’s Farm with Maddy. Other than Scio, the next closest location for herding trials. I wanted to check it out, figure out where everything was, how it worked and for Haku to get a chance to work in the field and to see where the sheep were set. Also, just fun to go have a herding play day. And, yes, Navarre got to come too, the first time I’ve worked him since the workshop we went to a couple months ago.

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(Herding photos by Maggie!)

Such a beautiful spring day, kind of pity that summer is right around the corner, herding is fun and easy when the weather cooperates. New sheep, new location, both dogs remained ever enthusiastic – this is their idea of a good time. Navarre certainly did NOT show any signs of his ‘off’ behavior that he did last week, but he didn’t working with Ian the day before either. He did some good stuff and some of the same crap as always. We started out working some slow moving heavy sheep and he did okay, but then we switched out for some lighter sheep and he thought he needed to push just as hard and even closer than the last group – and that certainly didn’t work well. And while I can get him to back off fetching, I can’t stop him from running right up their asses while driving, so that was a whole lot of arguing with my dog fruitlessly that I should have avoided.

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Navarre got to try some things and he wasn’t super successful at them. I thought I could work on his flank whistles while the sheep were in a pen, having him go around outside of the pen so I wouldn’t have to argue about him being too close to sheep and we could just work whistles. Yeah, that was a total bust, couldn’t get him to understand the exercise. And I couldn’t do that damn away whistle until I tried to demonstrate to Maddy how bad I was at it, then I could do it every time, naturally. Hmph. We also worked on trying to fetch the sheep off of one another, and we only got about two tries before Navarre lost sheep doing that. I can say he still isn’t sure WHO he should be bringing sheep to when lifting off another team. Then when the sheep took off both him and Bones went to fetch them and apparently Navarre just kept circling them instead of actually, you know, helping to bring them back. Dork.

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Still, for all his lack of skill and unearned self esteem, he’s really keen to do the things. Including running off and looking for sheep if I get distracted, and actually bringing them back from WAY far away. So, yeah, we couldn’t really do anything, but I felt better about it – which I suppose counts for something.

Haku also tried very hard. And, yes, we’re rusty on the skills we have not been practicing – which is pretty much everything except shedding. His outruns were surprisingly bad, as that’s one he’s usually pretty good at. He also could not spot the sheep for what the outrun would look like in a trial. He wasn’t listening to his whistle down on the fetch either. He knows his flanks and he TRIES to drive, but especially with the heavier sheep – OMG, world’s slowest drive ever. And he would do pretty good at responding to my commands, less good at holding a line and occasionally kept throwing in 90 degree turns for no reason. He was trying really hard, bless his heart. And I got frustrated with him for not responding and turning the sheep back to me even after five lie downs and he was so upset. Poor sensitive Haku.

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We did some shedding with the big group of sheep, which went … shockingly well. I still find the whole making a hole thing to be like magic, and he came through almost every time! I think he’s getting the idea, knock on wood. His AKC trial with Carol is next weekend, but he doesn’t need any shedding skills as of yet.

Shaping up my summer schedule, trial organizers are making it easy for me to cross agility trials off my list by starting late in the day and then putting all the classes I have no interest in the morning when it’s actually somewhat pleasant to run. I rarely did USDAA as it is, but since they now spend the first couple hours of all their trials totally dedicated to the ‘training in the ring’ class, I really have no interest in going at all. They have a trial just right up the road from me, I thought I’d at least enter a few classes in the morning – but, no. Same with the UKI ‘classic’, I thought I might enter a couple classes in the morning, but, no. Oh well. I have a couple AKC trials I might enter the tall to small days, just a few classes, but then I’ll be waiting until it’s cooler. Ah, summer, I really don’t like it at all – it literally makes me feel ill just to be hot, much less running around. I have a lot of sympathy for dogs in my classes that totally shut down in the summer too – I’m right there with them.

I DID enter all three days of an obedience trial in June with Navarre for his Open debut. I’m hoping we can knock out all three legs in one weekend again, but I’m a little less confident about his Open skills. Need to look at the broad jump again, practice our retrieves to make sure he remembers about coming back over the jump and keep working on the drop on recall. His position changes are pretty good as we do that one a lot anyway for conditioning, but need to make sure he can do it with distraction and in a formal setting. I SHOULD be working on his heeling, but, meh. Good enough, it’s not like we’re trying to get an OTCH here. Now, if he does sail through Open, I do feel like we’ll have to finish up training his Utility skills, which is pretty much mostly about the go-out. The rest he’s been exposed to, but we haven’t worked on them in forever. So it would be fun pull those back out, but if he struggles with Open, well, we’ll see.

Dove’s puppies are FIVE weeks old – pretty much the cutest age, the pinnacle of puppy cuteness. Oh, and they are just such fun, sweet, people focused puppies – love all of them! We took them outside today to a new area of the yard, next to the busy road, and they were just totally solid. Brought my dogs out to meet them, puppies were like, “Sup.” I thought Navarre would love a litter of puppies, but he was pretty unimpressed. Bright and Haku ignored them, of course, and the puppies just did their adorable puppy things. Such good pups!

 

24C Experiment

Ah, that weird pre-Summer we always have in May where we suddenly go from 50-60 to up to 90 degrees with no chance to acclimate (and then back down again!). I had entered the trial this weekend assuming it would be nice moderate spring weather – ha! It’s funny how I ALWAYS seem to trial when we get our sudden pre-summer weather, every year. The good news, the weather will go back to spring eventually, but in the meantime … ugh. So not a fan of sun and heat, but I have yet to find that location where it’s 57 degrees and partly sunny year round.

Did just a little more practice at 24 with Navarre over the week, with trickier courses he does knock more bars. He keeps them up the second time around, but I assumed he’d be knocking bars from lack of experience with that height over the weekend. Maybe a bit more of a warm up at 24 would have been a good idea, but it’s just an experiment anyway. Mostly I wanted to see if it just feels ridiculously wide. He feels okay in practice, wider but not unreasonable – but he definitely gets goofier in trials.

The trial went surprisingly well, Navarre worked really hard to keep the bars up, and, yes, was wide and floating, but it actually didn’t seem like that big of an adjustment or particularly difficult, just a lot more air time – the amount of drifting was about the same. The jumpers course on Saturday just had some really awkward lines where I felt the need to put in like six front crosses because nothing flowed (and I almost NEVER front cross!). That course was hard for him as everything was a turn, so lots of really wide and awkward turns. Funny enough, Navarre kept all the bars up for that run – but I didn’t support a jump enough and he came past. Really though, he can do 24 relatively comfortably, if not particularly efficiently. The really surprising one was when Navarre managed to beat Bright by quite a bit on the standard course on Saturday, and both their runs were very nice with running contacts. No idea how that works, but kudos to him.

Sunday we continued out jumpers curse, not getting ANY jumpers Qs this weekend, including in premier. Bright threw in a spontaneous backside instead of rear crossing at the end, and Navarre through in a spontaneous threadle when I obviously tried to be TOO cautious at a tunnel discrimination where Bright had gone off course. My dogs would like more backsides and threadles, apparently. They both did well for standard though, and I was really happy with what they did in jumpers, despite our issues. Now, standard I had been letting them run their teeters and, yeah, that’s going to bite me in the butt one of these days. Bright’s running contacts remain pretty sketchy, but she manages to squeak by with those too. Navarre’s RC look great, but, yeah, the trampoline teeters were looking pretty questionable. Every dogwalk exit was straight off this weekend, so the dogs ran them all. I can’t really complain.

So a fun weekend, I’m glad I entered despite the heat. Both dogs are at a really fun stage. Bright in the ‘I have no goals but my dog is at the perfect age’ stage where she is just such a good teammate – there is no stress or questions, she has this agility thing down. And things seem to be finally pulling together with Navarre. He still feels somewhat baby-ish, but I think by the time he’s five we’ll have it together. So we’ll stay with our 24C experiment and see what happens. He had a 50% Q rate this weekend. Assuming we actually enter some trials, I don’t think qualifying for WTT would be an issue. Now, I also have no idea where it actually IS next year, or what the qualification requirements are – but one step at a time. We may enter another trial or two, but summer is coming, so won’t be doing much when it’s hot. Did I mention I hate when it’s hot?

Oh, and I got to run a bonus Papillon – Sadie is so much fun! We may be playing again now that’s she in all excellent!

We also did some herding this week, two times actually, and Navarre was curiously ‘off’. From heat? From the puppy? From lack of practice? He seemed to be oddly more sensitive and just kind of disconnected. Did not seem to have his normal obnoxious intensity. Dave felt he seemed like a dog that had been ‘over corrected’. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t worked with him at all, so he hasn’t gotten to ‘cut loose’ for a while. But it was odd, so we’ll see if it’s just a weird week or what. I’m supposed to go up to Fido’s next week to practice, so I’ll work him and see if he seems at all worried or subdued with me (which had certainly not ever happened before). Maybe it’s a sign I can’t farm him out anymore and it’s time for us to actually work together. Heh, probably not.

Navarre did get to work some ducks for the first time! And he was curiously into it and also super calm about it all. Maybe being a duck herder is his destiny. He was very gentle with the ducks, a little puzzled about the whole thing, but trying. If we get a chance we may explore it further.

Haku did some more shedding, with Ian’s sheep it goes pretty well! Ian’s sheep practically shed themselves, so it gives me a false sense of confidence.  Haku is still not great at coming through fast enough, so we talked about some options for speeding that up, either backing up or coming in. So we’ll play with that. We also went back out to Dave’s this week and worked with the heavier sheep and shedding. The good news, we did much better this time! Mostly with me sorting sheep, and we did a couple sheds with them too – but much harder to get Haku to come through. And he gets so upset when I get upset when he doesn’t come when I ask. I think he’s upset to be both splitting the sheep that feels wrong and that I keep getting frustrated and sharp because he won’t come to me. Still, at least we could do it and he’s starting to get a little glimmer that if I come to him I’ll send him around to catch them. The goal is for him to be able to shed with Carol with heavy sheep … we have work to do.

Knock on wood, he continues to be sound (is that two weeks in a row?). I had all the dogs adjusted over the weekend too, nothing major found. Fingers crossed this continues!

Meanwhile, Tilly the rat terrier went home earlier in the week, the house is MUCH quieter. While she did settle in pretty well during her stay, she managed to piss off the other dogs and cats quite a bit. Dragon wanted to murder her, so I had to keep them separate. Dragon does NOT like hyper puppies that come running up to him trying to frantically lick his face. Tilly got the wrath of Dragon put into her, though it didn’t stop her from wanting to still run up to cats. Still, she really is a NICE puppy.

She’s pretty much the dog that people want, a small dog that isn’t at all yappy, short hair, people focused, super friendly towards everyone and every dog.  I really would recommend a rat terrier if you’re looking for a small dog, she is a very fun little girl. She did settle in and was ready for more training, we trained a foldback down and once you can get her focused she’s very smart. And sweet! She got to sleep on the bed a few nights as well, and it was really cute to have her snuggled up with me all night (though Haku did NOT approve). Navarre played with her quite a bit, but would also get quite annoyed with her when she would just keep pestering and pestering. I always think it’s fun to play with a new breed, and it’s good to see how my dogs react to a ‘non-border collie’ puppy. Yeah, my dogs like border collies.

And, look, Dove’s puppies are 4 weeks old now! Oh, they are really getting fun and cute – and such rolly-polly little porkers!

Shedders

We shedded! We did three sheds with a group of about 9 sheep out in Ian’s field. We weren’t focused on the actual shedding part, but looking at spreading out sheep, making holes and keeping Haku’s flanks and position correct without and creeping in. But he made such nice holes I went ahead and called him through he came through every time I called – what a good boy! Then I immediately sent him on to go pick them up, so I think he thought this was a fun game. Haku so loves his sheep, and I’m so happy with the relationship we have around sheep these days. I’m really quite annoyed that he’ll be 10 this summer, both Haku and I really would love to do more, and it took us such a long time to get here. How much time we get … that’s still a big question.

Haku had a couple incidents were he would be off after very limited exercise – usually just running around in the arena for maybe 10 minutes before class. So kept resting and keeping him quiet, but wondering if that’s just who he is or we pushed it too far too fast. Then we have weeks like this week where there was tons of running at the arena, at the park, in the field, at herding, at hiking – and I don’t see anything at all. So I swing wildly back and forth between thinking he’s permanently broken and he’s perfectly fine (for an almost 10 year old dog).

Then Haku is now totally on his prescription joint food, and I put him on a diet to make sure he didn’t have any extra weight to be putting any extra pressure on his joints. Now he just feels so very old and frail to me, his neck is so skinny and he just really has lost a lot of muscling. And I intellectually know that we have yet to even really start to build him back up after his rehab (because we keep ‘resting’ whenever I see anything off), but I also start freaking out that maybe he has something else going on entirely. Like the day he was off after very limited romping in the arena I came out later and he had thrown up a HUGE chunk of some stuffed toy that he had obviously swallowed whole – ugh! And, yeah, since that I haven’t seen him look off in his movement since then – could that have been the issue? Could it STILL be an issue? Why does he keep eating crap the older he gets – he never used to!

So, yeah, I worry. And it makes it obviously hard to have any actual goals or plans with him, and he’d really like to go back to having a job again. He gets REAL nutty without a purpose in life. Mentally, he’s definitely not ready to retire. And hopefully he’s feeling okay, we’ll continue to go back to building more activities back into his life. His next herding trial with Carol is this month, so we’ll see how that goes.

Meanwhile, Navarre continues to feel multi-talented as I do have three different sports he’s training in at the moment. We have been reviewing all his Open obedience behaviors, especially drop on recall, as we deliberately didn’t work that one while he was getting ready for novice. He’s not and never has been one Nature’s Downers, but he seems to be remembering the game without getting sticky or anticipating. Mixing that up with the signals exercise, he’s pretty darn solid in practice anyway. I haven’t brought out the dumbbell again, we’ll look at that next week. Still need to actually train that heeling. He’s very much enjoying it though, still looking at an Open debut in June.

In agility we have been practicing at 24, which has gone surprisingly well. Tricky backsides he’s knocked some bars, but he’s putting in some very solid and athletic jumping efforts with the big jumps. And, yes, he goes much wider. We’ll practice a bit more next week and see what he does with it at a trial next weekend.

I found this video amusing as I never noticed he ran under the same jump twice

And in herding, Navarre’s still just working with Ian or Dave. It was Ian this week and they did some shedding and then an exercise with Jennifer and her dog. They attempted to drive the group of sheep back and forth between the two handlers. Navarre had never seen another team on the field at the same time, and, funny enough, apparently he’ll lie down no matter who is saying it (except, perhaps, if it’s me). So that caused a lot of confusion when trying to get him to lift the sheep off of the other team and he kept just lying down when she would ask her dog to lie down, and then brought the sheep to her, and was just generally baffled by the exercise. Still, he got through it, but needs more work lifting off another team, that’s for sure. He was doing some good stuff though, he is progressing – well, at least for other people.

As for Bright, we didn’t do much this week! We are puppysitting a 13 week old rat terrier puppy, so that’s been keeping us busy. She has a nervous hyper energy that makes it challenging. She’s constantly groveling and licking the dogs mouths, I mean CONSTANTLY, and they don’t like it. Mostly we just try to keep busy, and the dogs were much less offended by her out hiking, and have been getting gradually better. Then we had a meet up with her litter sister that is also in the area, but Tilly kept trying to take her out! Ah, siblings. We’ve done a bit of training here and there, I know she’s been started on a lot of behaviors, hard to say though as she’s mostly just bouncing around. But she has a really cute wave and we’ve just been doing simple things like hand touches and fold back downs. Mostly she just has ENDLESS energy, it’s like she’s on speed, just super happy and bouncy and running around continuously.

I’ll have to say, after having this kind of hyper energy in the house, I know it’s definitely not for me! The dogs agree, I think we all enjoy the relative calm crew we have around here. Though, to be fair, she’s winning over Navarre – he’s having a great time now that they’ve learned to play. I love getting a chance to play with different breeds, I always learn something new! I think she’ll settle in more and more as the week goes on though, and already seems more relaxed around the dogs.

Speaking of puppies, Dove’s puppies are 3 weeks old! Finally they have eyeballs, they can hear you, they can walk (stumble) and interact! They are already a very social litter, they enjoy coming to say hello. My particular favorite (Hawk, the red boy) is very good at making eye contact even at such a young age. He’s also quite the poser! Next week they’ll be ‘real dogs’, which will be really fun.

These puppies suck at group shots

The girls are better posers than the boys

Ginger!

Eagle has a blue eye like his mom

Falcon is still the super model of the bunch

The boys

Dove enjoying some time away from the puppies – she has SO MUCH milk it’s hard for her to run!

I had wanted to do puppies in slings, but they’re too wiggly and the sun too bright when I had an assistant! Unfortunately they’re going going to get more uncooperative from here … Eagle was the least cooperative

Kestrel

Hawk

Kite

Falcon