10 Weeks

How quickly they become a part of our lives. I adore Asher, he just has that special quality that ‘fits’ with me, I can’t explain it, he’s definitely my dog. That doesn’t mean that he’s perfect or easy, but he’s a fabulous boy. I’m really excited to see who he grows up to be, he’s changed so much just in the time he’s been with me. It’s crazy how quickly dogs grow up, just a week’s difference and they’re like a whole new dog.

Asher continues to have no friends, he continues to push with my dogs and gets himself into trouble all the time. Thankfully Bright is there to police him, if Haku tells him to bugger off, Bright is right there to make sure Asher actually listens. And if he doesn’t she will correct him, and he does run off crying … and is back at it within a minute or two. So we can say that he’s a resilient little shit. Asher continues to be stiff and postures with new dogs, though he does tend to slowly relax once he gets to know them a bit better. He’s definitely not making friends, but he can become less of an ass with exposure. Thankfully he also chilled out with his siblings, they had a get together and they all did well together for the most part, and actually had some normal play interactions. As I thought he’d be the worst with them, that’s encouraging.

I don’t care if Asher is not interested in meeting other dogs, it’s not a requirement – but he does need to learn how to not be an ass around them (my dogs in particular). Right now I just assume he’ll chill as he gets older assuming he does continue to get some positive experiences – or Bright beats him into being polite, one of the two. It’s his biggest flaw at the moment, and I’m not sure how much he’ll just grow out of. At the same time he is now getting more bold and interested in chasing and biting my dogs when they’re running, which is so not helping things either.

Asher likes people, and he’s very soft and sweet around them. He likes everyone but isn’t frantic or obnoxious about it (yet, anyway). He’s still very aware of where I am even with other people around and continues to have a good recall away from people as well. He’s very popular with the public, I find it interesting that different puppies seem to get more public approval than others – Asher gets a lot. Maybe because he looks like a giant aussie puppy. Oh, which reminds me – there is a 10 week old Bernese Mountain Dog puppy in one of my classes – weighs less than Asher. Good lord that’s a big puppy, and he’s not slowing down, that’s for sure. He is getting more coordinated, though he still moves like a sack of potatoes. Being such a big puppy, he could get up on the couch from day one though. So, benefits? Thankfully, he has been thoughtful about his body and doesn’t do anything too crazy. Dove and Navarre were WAY nuttier at this age. I’m really glad Asher is taking it easy.

We’ve made a lot of strides in our communication this week. He has really turned on to training and the lightbulb has switched on – that is one operant puppy. He loves to offer behavior and can learn and problem solve very quickly … when you can get his attention. He’s a smart little thing, and generalizes and progresses quickly once he’s caught on. It’s always so amazing when they go from knowing nothing to knowing so much in such a short period of time.

Asher likes training and he’s getting better all the time at being less frustrated and more problem solving. OMG, getting his giant butt on a platform was the hardest thing, he is definitely not ‘in’ his body, so getting him to actually have to think about doing something even vaguely precise with it was super hard. He definitely prefers to ‘throw’ himself at things instead. He can now get onto a SMALL platform, though he’s not so good at sitting up there yet. I do think that it made a world of difference with Navarre to do a lot of coordination behaviors from a young age, so the hope is that it will help with Asher too.

I don’t really remember what he knew last week, but this week have worked on:

  • Back (he can go about 10 feet!)
  • Platform Pivot (only one direction with one rotation)
  • 2o/2o
  • Four feet on a small platform
  • Get in a box – big box
  • Recall through legs
  • Hand touch
  • Paw target
  • Frog
  • Wave with both paws
  • Spin in both directions
  • Roll
  • Restraint
  • Stay

We needed to do nails, so we did a crash course in ‘hey-hey, shhhh’ which is pretty much just being soft and rewarding him for going soft as well and then marking that stillness. And that let us get through his nails, rewarding each one. He wasn’t overly concerned about the actual nail trimming, but being still is a new one to him. We also just started working on introducing the stay, which I do with some reverse luring, he’s kind of got it in the living room. We’ll test it out hiking tomorrow and see if we can get some posed pictures.

So far, he’s fun to train, really enjoys the process and doesn’t get sensitive or worried. He’s not as much of a nerd about it as Navarre, but he’s still fairly serious and thoughtful about it all.

He still enjoys playing, he also really likes frisbee rollers, but still his favorite is probably small round fuzzy squeak toys. He loves to chase and run, though not always to the side of my body that I want. We have been doing less toys when he comes in briefly during classes, as it’s so convenient to use food to make sure he’s eating enough. He very much enjoys the freeze dried raw and that makes up the majority of his food at the moment. I haven’t attempted actual raw food since he was so horrified about it when I tried it initially. We played around with some different kibbles, yet came back to Victor again. My dogs just do well on it, from puppy to adult.

The cats have remained fairly standoffish with him, but he’s being pretty well behaved around them, especially Fizban who doesn’t tend to hide from him. Fizban will also sleep on the bed when he does, which the other dogs mostly won’t – ha! I don’t know why, as they will let him cuddle up with them on the outside beds. Sometimes he won’t stop partying though, so he gets the crate next to the bed – but he doesn’t mind too much. He can be sweet and cuddly in the morning, but I always assume he needs to go out at that point. Oh, and he can get on the bed! I have a tall bed, so I got the dogs a bench at the  foot of the bed to make it easier for them to get off and on – and he just climbs right up. That is one large puppy …

We have been on a leash a few times, but he still really has no clue about it. I took him to the big dog show when Navarre was showing over the weekend, but I didn’t want him walking around with all those dogs. I carried that giant puppy all over the place. He seemed to find it interesting, I tried to let him watch all the ‘weird’ dogs, the hairy ones, the big ones, the ones with no noses or sound weird. He just took it all in, no worries. I did let him walk around in the obedience area (as no one goes there!). He did great and loved to train and play and visit. He remains pretty solid, though he was a little weird today with people in hats for whatever reason.

He also remains pretty cute, but getting gradually more and more fugly. Both of his ears have rosed and they’re very cute. I don’t expect a lot of ear adventures, but I think his earset is perfect for him. I’m finding the whole red thing to be cuter all the time. At least, when it’s Asher.

As for the other dogs, I think they’re at least getting more resigned to Asher, if not particularly friendly. Navarre seemed to be acting out by getting in trouble all week. One day I left the arena to go get something out of my car and I come back and he had left the arena and broken into someone’s bag and was eating their treats! So I rescue what was left of the treats and put him back in the arena, and he managed to get the treats AGAIN. Bad dog! And anything we attempted to work on he was not really listening. Oh, the drama. Didn’t help we had thunderstorms this week, which he’s not super phobic about, but he doesn’t like them. So more sensitive Navarre. Next week we’re going to spend the 4th at the arena to try to stay away from a lot of fireworks, but I’m sure we’ll be hearing them for weeks anyway.

I pulled Haku from the USBCHA trial in July, I just don’t feel like it’s fair to him. He may be able to do it, but he just seems like he’s lost confidence. He’s still super happy to do it, and today we just drove sheep all around the field with me right behind him, and that helped him out. I could fade off a bit, but it didn’t take much before he started slowing down and checking back with me again. Just weird he’s regressed so much. It’s official, he’s not retired, but we no longer have goals, we’re working with what we’ve got – and what we’ve got is not always consistent. I feel okay with it though, and I think it’s the right choice.

Because I had already paid for the entry I told Ian he could run Navarre in Haku’s place, so we’ll see how that goes. I assume they’ll run in Ranch and he SHOULD be able to do it, if not smoothly. I swear every week Ian tells me that Navarre is in a ‘difficult training stage’. Yeah, I think that’s been happening for four years. Ian remains confident that by this winter Navarre will be ready for prime time. Today though … so much arguing. Navarre most definitely thinks he knows best, no matter who is running him. Yet he still thinks it’s just the best, so, hey we’ll continue. Dave is gone until later this summer, so that’s a good thing. I don’t know if I need to spend this much money to have people yell at Navarre around sheep, yet I really don’t want to start working with him. So, we’ll see. Asher is my great hope for herding now.

Agility trial next weekend, just one day, I think Robert is running Navarre, or at least we talked about it. He’s entered at 24, and Robert is running him in class these days since his older guy has some health issues. Bright will be SO HAPPY to run, I think. Then I need to enter Navarre in another obedience trial and start working on his go-outs.

Openly Obedient

Dog shows of any type are so ridiculous. Somehow it seems even more unreal when you throw a bunch of events together. The obedience trial over the weekend was in conjunction with a big conformation show which also had lure coursing and barn hunt. Just a massive amount of crazy dog people all squished together. And it is all so ridiculous, yet people take it all so very seriously. I suppose you could say that about a lot of hobbies. But as I’m ‘in’ the dog show world, and have been for many years, sometimes it hits me stronger than others how very silly it all is. The amount of time and money we spend to play with our dogs is just crazy. And that’s on top of all the ‘stuff’ we think we need for the dogs, from the fancy food, fancy leashes, fancy toys, very gadgets galore. It’s basically a huge waste of money, but an entertaining one.

I do very much love dogs, and the relationship with your dog in a performance aspect is very different than ‘just a pet’, and I love it – and I think dogs love having that ability to communicate with us on that level too. Well, assuming they get a say in it. I think a lot of obedience dogs don’t get much of a say it in all. It’s a culture of ‘you MUST do it’, which doesn’t work for most people and doesn’t work well for most dogs either. Some will, but it’s human, and I think dog, nature to resent anything they’re MADE to do as opposed as chose to do.

Obedience is an interesting sport, as you take away much of the communication, verbal and non-verbal. So to me the challenge is that concept of training your dog to respond in that sterile environment, and for a fairly long period of time. And the hard part is, the slower your dog goes, the longer the run takes. Thankfully Navarre is pretty fast, so our open runs are about 5-6 minutes. So that’s 8 exercises in 5 minutes with no rewards and minimal physical and verbal praise inbetween exercises. It’s a lot of pressure and especially if you don’t regularly practice, it’s a lot to ask.

So Navarre gets big points for being mature enough to handle the obedience environment with really very little preparation – and certainly almost no prep on the sheer length of time he would need to work with very little feedback. We certainly weren’t perfect, but Navarre continues to work through it all. Very proud of my big goober, love the dog he’s grown up to be.

We were SO CLOSE to getting that CDX this weekend. I find the exercise he missed on Sunday to be really silly, the signal discrimination where I’m closest to him and use both a signal AND verbal to lie down … and he sits. The herding dog! So that’s a new one, go figure. Still, after a bit of disappointment that we screwed up something he knows so well, it was actually a good thing, I think. I handled the rest of the run like I should handle all the time, like my dog actually knows the exercises and I expect him to be able to do them. Shockingly, this works much better than trying to be ‘careful’.

We had our share of goofiness throughout the weekend, the biggest being that silly unprompted stand that he’ll do right before starting an exercise. He did that I don’t know how many times the first two days. And I kept trying to be ‘more careful’ to stop it from happening, which never works. After we messed up on Sunday I was all brazenly TRYING to get him to do it so I could fix it in the ring – and, of course, he was perfect.

Our heeling was never great, it wasn’t terrible, but also wasn’t as good as we can do (which, admittedly, is not super good anyway). There was bumping on his left turns and a bit of lagging on his about turns. His slow and fast were good though, and no problem with his halts. He was fairly focused though, even if he was sloppy. Signal exercise was not a problem until Sunday, of course. Broad jump was good, never got confused with the retrieves, which is one I thought he might struggle with. Finishes were about what we do at home, which is too far forward on the flip finish and too far back on the around. Fronts were fairly straight though. Drop on recall was good if not very fast, I tried both a signal and a verbal, it’s not the fastest down, but consistent. Our biggest issue was heeling and that stupid stand right when I indicate to the judge we’re ready. Well, that and getting our leash. You’d think I’d read the rules, but no. I figured it was the same as Novice, but with a stand-stay. But in Open you have to come back into the ring and wait for the judge to tell you to return. Whoops.

Anyway, Navarre had fun, I think, helped along to have some special ‘non-puppy’ time with just him. I think the whole obedience competition is a bit of mystery to him, but he was trying really hard. Well, other than his weird fascination with sniffing the judge on Sunday, no idea what that was about. He’s much more relaxing to work with, as I’m not trying to constantly calm him down or keep him from barking.

We’ll finish that CDX, and I’d like to try for the UD, I think. He can do it, and he seems to be enjoying himself. It’s no agility or herding, but he likes the personal attention. We have a couple options for this summer that I think I’ll look into.

9 Weeks

Life with a puppy is always a little unreal for those first few weeks. It’s a big adjustment for the puppy, and a big adjustment for the rest of the household. There is always a new routine and so many things that you don’t normally do. You don’t really know what each new day will bring because you don’t know your puppy yet and what his needs will be.

Asher is slowly settling in and we’re getting to know him better. He’s certainly, uh, rambunctious. Hard to say if that’s who he really is, or he’s just being a puppy. He definitely seems more busy than Navarre was, and less cuddly (though still very sweet!). But I think that could change with time. Asher just seems much too busy for cuddling, and can be quite a shark. He’s very limp when he’s napping though. And I think it’s adorable he doesn’t mind being held like a baby. He is a very trusting soul, and I hope I never do anything to spoil that trust. On that note, haven’t really gotten a chance to work on restraint and handling. Did I mention the shark thing? It’s on the list.

We did do a bit of a crash course to at least start some of the Silvia homework. He can get in a box now! Weirdly, he’s way more about getting into a box than on one. Getting into the box took one short session, getting on a large platform he still just attacks the platform. He can frog, but it’s not at all an offered behavior. He loves a good target, though now he can only pounce on it into a down, which is cute, but not really what she wanted, I think. His recall remains pretty good, but I try to only use it when I’m pretty sure he’s going to come anyway.

Overall he’s definitely grasping the concept of training better, though remains only mildly food motivated. He finally seemed to have the magic moment that he realizes his behavior is driving the training, he’s now offering more and more. Baby puppy attention span, of course. He has now started:

  • Sit
  • Down
  • Frog
  • Get In
  • Get On
  • Paw Target
  • Roll (his favorite, for some reason)
  • Hand Target
  • Crate
  • Wave with Both Paws
  • Recall on Name
  • Back

He also does quite a bit of bouncing around like a maniac, I appreciate the enthusiasm. So far he seems to do better with latent learning. A quick session of rapid rewards, jackpot the best and then go play. The next time we come back to it he seems to get it. If I keep trying to work on repeating something he did in the same training session, he doesn’t do as well. I have been working on pure shaping with Asher, which he really needs to learn to be truly operant. I’m spoiled by my dogs, I don’t have to do that with them. But Asher is really starting to learn to offer behavior. Sometimes.

We usually do two small sessions of training per day, which is for his ‘meals’. He’s much better at eating when it’s a training behavior, not so much out of a bowl. I worry that he’s not eating enough, but if you just sit him down and TRY to get him to eat – no dice. Now, trying to KEEP him from eating out of the other dogs’ bowls, that’s a challenge. Obviously, they don’t approve.

At the arena I’ve been using the freeze dried raw food as snacks throughout the day, which he finds very valuable and is a majority of his food intake at this point. I try to bring him into classes several times a day to see the people and dogs as well as have some short play sessions while students are walking the course (and so he can pee, of course!). He likes to say hi to everyone, but is still surprisingly concerned where I am. I’m not used to that in a border collie! So he’s ‘lost’ me several times as he went to say hi and I left to the other side of the arena and it doesn’t take long for him to start really looking for me once he realizes I’m not there with him even if he’s surrounded by five other people. At the moment, at least, he has a higher value for me than other people.

He’s a fun dog to play with, pretty much happy to play with whatever, will switch from toy to toy, from food to toy and toy to food. He’s getting faster! We do a lot of calling and running away and he can catch me pretty quick now. He tracks food and thrown toys exceptionally well for his age, he has since he came home. He seems to have a pretty natural retrieve, and I’ve been trying to foster that. We play lots of two toy games, and have just introduced throwing a toy and then calling back for a hand touch and another thrown toy. His favorite toys remain tiny plush toys, I got him some more of those. The tiny hedgehogs are a house favorite, and good for Asher as he can’t chew off pieces as easily. Oh, and Asher is a big fan of squeakers, which is funny as Navarre really isn’t to this day.

Housetraining goes well, though I wouldn’t really call it training. I have long since given up trying to ‘train’ this, there are clean dogs and there are not, and you can’t really rush the project. Knock on wood, Asher remains very clean. He doesn’t want to soil in a crate, he doesn’t pee every five minutes, he lets me know when he needs to go and he has caught on that peeing outside means we get to run inside and play. He MAY be asking to go outside sometimes, it’s hard to say. If he ever sits or hangs out near the door, I let him out. What he does after that is up to him. I just take him out frequently when he’s inside, make sure I have my eye directly on him and if he ever stops partying I put him outside. He doesn’t stop partying very often. At night we have done a few nights in the crate next to the bed, he’s fine with that and will whine if he needs to go out. He usually sleeps on the bed, assuming he can settle down, and whines if he needs to go out. However, there have been two mornings where I woke up to a puppy partying off the bed. I didn’t find any accidents, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. MOSTLY he sleeps until I get up though.

Recalls continue very solid, we went hiking last Friday and I wasn’t at all worried about him wandering off. He thought that was great fun, we just did a tiny hike as he’s so young and big and awkward. He did go swimming though! I was really surprised, he only went in twice, the first time MAY have been accident, but the second time was deliberate. But then he got cold and just ran around on the shore. He loves the water trough and has graduated to ‘digging’ in the water. Some day I’m sure I won’t be impressed with this, but for now I’m really happy to see he seems to be on track to be a good water dog.

We have been mostly focusing on just exposing him to places I go during the week. He loves the arena and we’ve run around at the field there, he’s very relaxed hanging out in his crate in the car while I teach. We’ve been to the park, though it always seems to be hot while we’re there (so he doesn’t do much). He had fun at the park though, he’s very keen to chase some areobee rollers and while he was curious about the other people there, he stuck close. He did get to have an adventure in downtown Salem, we took him out to eat with us. I wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to settle, but he did great, no issues with the traffic or people or new environment and settled down on his mat. His first time on leash though, someone should train him about that. He DOES have a collar now, which he still finds annoying, but we’ll probably need at some point. His puppy follow remains strong for now though, so I have yet to use a leash.

He continues to like sleeping UNDER the kurunda beds we have on the porch, though I can’t imagine that will last long. His brother weighed in at 18 lbs recently, god knows how much Asher weighs. I’m not going to worry about it until I take him for his next vaccination. There is an awful lot of ‘OMG he’s so huge!’ when people meet him. I’m still hopeful he’ll slow down though, he’s already so much less infantile than my other dogs were at this same age, I’m saying he’s advanced and did some pre-growing. Hey, it could happen.

Not much luck with Asher and other dogs. My dogs are mildly less annoyed by him now, Navarre has done some involuntary tugging with him and Bright is softening towards him as well. They will ALL correct him, and hard – even Haku. They all think he needs discipline. Sigh. So he’s starting to get more bitey and annoying with them, which is not going to help matters, his chance to win them over when he was tiny and sweet is fading. Then he’s an ass with other puppies around his same age, he postures and stands over them and gets all serious and stiff. With adult dogs that might be friendly he finds them too overwhelming so he tends to ALSO get stiff and and retreats. With other breeds he’s very suspicious and doesn’t really respond to their friendly playful gestures. He likes herding breeds a lot more. He’s made no friends. I think I may have found my puppy’s issue, I think he may be a dick. Go figure, one of the reasons I thought this would be the best choice was I was pretty sure they weren’t going to be dicks! Well, we’ll see. It would be nice if he could have some good interactions, but he’s pretty much spoiling all my attempts here.

He’s okay with the cats, he can get rambunctious but will settle down when scolded by me or the cats. He, unfortunately, has discovered he can fit under the cat gate to the cat room, which is annoying. He has not yet pissed off Dragon though, knock on wood. For the most part I just put the cats up if I know he’s going to romping inside, as I don’t want any bad experiences on either side.

Time goes by so quickly, I can’t believe he’s already 10 weeks!

Meanwhile, I took Haku out to just work on downs around sheep at Heidi’s place … and he couldn’t do it all. Not with verbals, not with whistles, not close, not far. It was almost like he couldn’t hear me, though I’m pretty sure he could. He couldn’t do flanks either, it was just like the issues he had at Ian’s during the week. Haku didn’t seem overly stressed, but he did seem puzzled by my reactions more than anything. I don’t know what to make of it, but maybe this is the sign that he’s done. I am going to bring him in to the vet when I take Asher in for his next vaccinations in a couple weeks. Haku’s muscle wasting has gotten worse and he certainly looks older than I think he should. He’s not even 10 until next month! I don’t know, maybe there is something that is going on that we can fix, like thyroid or something. Or maybe all the weirdness is because of the puppy, it’s a big adjustment.

For comparison, I took Navarre out on Heidi’s big flock of sheep and he was being all surprisingly good and listening and trying and responding to whistles … somewhat. Not so good with his away whistle, and my whistling is a lot worse when I’m trying to make it louder. And maybe it was because I wasn’t actually trying to DO anything with the sheep, but I was really impressed with what Navarre was doing for me. Well, for a while. Navarre definitely does better ‘fresh’ and then gets worse as he goes on.

Navarre’s obedience debut is this weekend! Three days, but, thankfully, we show early in the morning. We have practiced a bit and I think we’ll have a fair shot at it, though it wouldn’t surprise me if we had bobbles. Hopefully not trainwrecks, just bobbles. Nothing is going to be super precise, his fronts are loose his finishes are wobbly, he forges in heeling. But he can, technically, do everything assuming we don’t have any mistakes. Would certainly be nice to get his open title in one weekend, but I may be overly ambitious.

And I entered an agility trial! Just one day,  I liked the judges and I think it would be good for Asher to see that as well. Entered Navarre at 24C again, though I still have no idea where tryouts are next year. I’d also like to know where the west coast nationals will be held …

8 Weeks

Puppyhood goes by so quickly, and with a baby puppy it seems like there is so much to do. Asher is settling in well. He’s quiet, for the most part. Though I haven’t yet had him crated in the house, though will soon have to. The boy is trouble, much more so than the very relaxed Navarre was. Asher is always on the go and wants to chew EVERYTHING. I don’t think I’ve had such a mouthy puppy since London – who was way more of shark than Asher, but the other puppies just haven’t been. The more comfortable he becomes the more busy he gets, we’ll see if that continues.

This week has mostly been about introducing life while I’m teaching, which is pretty darn boring for puppies. But it was so hot that I think that helped take the edge off. Still, while he napped quietly in the car for the most part, he would start carrying on occasionally. Sometimes he needed to pee, but I think sometimes he was just bored. So he got to come in and supervise classes for a while, wander around, watch some agility and get underfoot while I attempted to explain exercises or when people were walking courses. He likes everyone and, right now, just sweetly greets everyone for love. Got to see lots of different dogs, met a few up close. He’s appropriately cautious with unknown dogs, though I wish he were a little MORE cautious, but he’s an optimist – he thinks everyone could be his friend – despite the fact that really no one is, at least dog-wise.

The x-pen lasted maybe 5 minutes before he just used his freakishly strong puppy strength to push THROUGH the panels of the plastic x-pen. And he was carrying on before that anyway. I haven’t had much luck with dogs actually set up in the arena, they see all the action and want to be a part of it. Out in the car they seem to learn from the other dogs to just chill. That’s been my best luck crate training, for some reason crates in the car seem to be not as traumatic as crates in the house, not sure why. But he adjusted quickly and he had one day where he was a little drooly after the drive, and then after that I have seen no more signs of car sickness. So that makes life a lot easier and he naps happily in the crate in the car and isn’t upset to be left there.

I still have yet to have him on leash, we’re taking advantage of his natural puppy follow and he sticks close right now. He gets lots of rewards for that, and his recall on his name is very strong at the moment. As he matures I’m sure we’ll lose all that, so we’re enjoying it while we can. He’s not overly fixated on the other dogs, he’s probably less interested in the older dogs than any other puppy I’ve had in my house. I expect that will change, but he’d rather hang out with me than the other dogs … for now. To be fair, the other dogs are not being real welcoming, that’s for sure. Navarre is less clingy and needy, but he still wants nothing to do with the puppy. Bright just tells him off and Haku is tolerant, but doesn’t really interact with him either. Poor Asher has no friends! It would be really nice if he could blow off some his puppy enthusiasm with some appropriate dog play, instead of trying to play bitey face with ME. You have to be careful, he will just suddenly fly at your face, sharp puppy teeth and all. He’s not being aggressive, he’s just got a lot of pent up puppy energy that he doesn’t have any place to direct to.

We have at least a couple mass toy play sessions every day, where I attempt to play with ALL the dogs at once. Which includes tugging with both Navarre and Asher while throwing a special toy for Bright … and Haku circles endlessly. Everyone likes that, it gets some of Asher’s biteyness out, and it makes Navarre feel better. So far Asher likes tiny little toys he can destroy and tug toys that look suspiciously like cat tails.

So, yeah, after one day of being super polite with the cats, Asher decided that cats might be his new playmates. They are not amused. Another reason we’re going to have to start crating the puppy so he can’t terrorize them. I have been letting Asher sleep on the bed, he’s been very well behaved. We have a big play/cuddle session before we go to bed and then when the lights go out he mostly takes the hint and sleeps soundly through the night. So far I’ve always woken him up in the morning to take him outside, he’s very snuggly in the morning! But I miss my cats and Navarre, and I’m pretty sure he’s going to quickly lose his bed privileges anyway. I think it’s nice for tiny puppies to have some time to transition without being crated though, so it’s been good for him to sleep with the group. Haku, of course, lets Asher snuggle up to him, which is super adorable. Not the other dogs, naturally.

We had one half of an accident in the house, but I think the benefit of having such a giant puppy is that his bladder must be huge. For an 8 week old puppy he doesn’t have to go super often. So just taking him out a lot we haven’t had any issues. Any time he stops being busy I stick him outside. And any time I let him in I have him go potty first, so he seems to be making the connection that peeing=party. He’s not picky about what he pees on, he’s done dirt, grass, bark, rocks, pavement – when he needs to go, he’s happy anywhere.

As for training, he’s slowly coming along. We’ve introduced lots of things, haven’t really mastered anything. Not that I’d expect to, but he’s not the sort of dog you can have an agenda with. I may go in wanting to work on waves, but he will have another idea entirely. He seems to pick up behaviors with things more than just behaviors he’s doing. So shaping the target plate and going into a crate went really fast, while he’ll still lags with waving and has yet to offer it without a prompt. With a bigger pedestal he’s started to figure ‘get on’ and with the crate ‘get in’. Asher seems to swing wildly from frantically pawing and jumping at my face to falling over on his side and laying there staring at me when training. Neither of which I really want to reward. We did progress quickly to targeting a noise button for his paw target behavior which he thinks is SUPER FUN. Very cute! He seems to enjoy training, but, naturally, has a very short attention span. It’s also very cute how he will be trying very hard and then has to run off and hump the dog bed for a few seconds and then comes back and trains some more.

He got to go with the dogs to their herding lesson this week, he thought watching Navarre herd was really interesting, but down on the ground he said sheep seem suspicious. It means nothing at this age, he’ll get to continue to come watch.

As for herding with the other dogs, Navarre wins this week. I think our whistle work on toys actually made a difference! Navarre was doing MUCH better at doing all whistles, especially at the beginning. Even with a ‘steady’ whistle which he’s never heard before in his life, I think. Well, still some arguing about what his lie down whistle means, of course probably not helped by the fact that his ‘steady’ whistle is half a lie down whistle). There was some Ian running all the way up the field when Navarre decided that after a REALLY long outrun that he didn’t need to respond. Which is pretty much what needs to happen when your dog doesn’t respond at a long distance. And what I SHOULD have done when Haku didn’t listen to me AT ALL today. Good lord. On his outrun the sheep were so far away we figured he would need to be redirected. Which may have worked but he refused to not only lie down, but stop searching for sheep at all. He was like, “I’ll be right with you, I have to find the damn sheep first!” Sigh. So finally got him back to me after he basically did an outrun of almost the entire damn field back to where we started, and by that time the sheep has escaped back into the trees. The good news, with a redirect that he vaguely listened too – he got them out of the trees! And then wouldn’t listen at all. OMG, if we don’t get some work in with long distances this upcoming trial is going to be UGLY.

But even close Haku was on his own agenda, maybe because I’m feeling the impending end of his career and I just want him to be a good time. I got nothing to back me up. And Ian’s all, “And Haku is perfect all the time, you say?” Yeah, if Navarre had been pulling that shit I would have ejected him completely. So, yeah, we need practice, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen. As always, things are rather loose with Haku, you never know what he’s actually going to do.


Welcome Home

I have a puppy! Asher is home and I’m interested to see if there is much difference with him as opposed to the other puppies I’ve brought home. So far there is one HUGE difference, Navarre is PISSED. I don’t know how he knows that THIS puppy is staying, but he’s sulking, pouting, clingy and being all angsty and weird. He’s never done this before! So there is lots of if I’m playing with puppy I have to be MOSTLY playing with Navarre, and making sure Navarre knows he’s still special, even if he isn’t the baby anymore. Still, Navarre, who loves puppies, is not happy that Asher is here AT ALL. He’s not mean to him at all, it’s just like a petulant sulking child. OMG, the looks and drama – who knew?

Bright and Haku are the same as they always are with puppies, basically ignoring him unless forced otherwise. Asher has glomed on to Haku, as all puppies gravitate to him and Haku lets them. Bright gives Asher some ugly face, but mostly ignores him. She doesn’t seem to think he needs discipline and likes that he respects her authority.  Asher has been SUPER appropriate with the cats, so they are not upset with him. Though he hasn’t really ‘met’ Dragon as he leaves the room if the puppy is around. But just very gentle sniffs and no rushing, pouncing, or being obnoxious at all with the cats.

As for Asher, he’s an interesting puppy. I just love his energy. He NOTICES things, like I have never had a puppy notice the different types of flooring in the house. But he had to stop and explore the hardwood, the carpets, the linoleum. He quickly became comfortable with everything, but he has such a quiet, thoughtful presence to him. Yet he’s way more of a rambunctious tugger and player than Navarre was at the same age. OMG, I am going to have to be careful with him, this dog is a toy DESTROYER. And even at 8 weeks he can rip off pieces of a toy within 30 seconds – that is one powerful chewer already! And he does like to CHEW, and not just a little, but back of the mouth molar destruction. I did give him a bully stick, but I think that was too hard, he whined at it and then tried to go steal the other dogs’ chews. So I gave him a fish skin I had gotten just for him, and he didn’t think that was food at all.

He is ridiculously sweet, and just connected. He has his own agenda, and he’s not needy, but he knows where you are and has such intense eye contact. He made himself at home quickly, he’s okay being out in the yard with the dogs and usually just curls up next to wherever Haku is (most puppies seem to do this with Haku!). So that makes life easier. I have not attempted an x-pen or crate yet, he slept on the bed all through the night, no problem. He had plenty of room as Navarre was not having any of that and went and slept in a corner in the living room, sulking. In the house he’s just explored and played with the toys and attempted to play with the dogs. Haku will play toy games with him, of course, but Bright and Navarre just tell him, ever so politely, to push off – and he does, he doesn’t need much to back off and doesn’t seem to take it personally. At this point he doesn’t seem that all interested in the other dogs, really. They are off running and playing and he doesn’t seem concerned, just keeps doing his own thing.

We have done a tiny bit of training, we worked on his wave and down, both lured behaviors and he remembered that. Then we did some freeshaping ‘click anything cute’ in the bathroom and ended up with targeting his nose to the drawer pull, backing up, smacking me with a paw and eye contact. Then we did a formal shaping session of paw target, and he figured that out and was purposely driving and smacking that in no time. He is getting the idea that the click is controlled by him, but still figuring out the game. He enjoys it, though not terribly food motivated, he thinks it’s okay (I was just using two different types of kibble). He ignores distraction, like the cats or other dogs and tries to figure out what I want.

As for what we tentatively have on the list to train to start with:

  • Wave
  • Down
  • Paw Target
  • Nose Target
  • On Object
  • In Object
  • Name
  • Recall
  • Hold paws, mouth, head, ears, tail
  • Crate/x-pen intros
  • Frog

And introducing all sorts of toys, switching toys, two toy, chasing toys, tugging, race to toy, restrained recalls, opposition reflex.

As for socialization, mostly just planning to take him along everywhere I go next week, which unfortunately is looking to be super hot. So we’ll go to classes, play at the arena, out in the field, go to the park, hiking, watch some herding, see the river, maybe take him somewhere where dogs can be on the patio. He’ll get to see lots of different breeds of dogs, lots of barking and new people. Learn to walk on a leash, he had a harness on last night and was fine with it. Hopefully just learning about everyday life around here and getting used to my crew – and them getting used to him. And hanging out with me, because he is REALLY fun to hang out with.

So far, day two of Asher, he’s just awesome ❤

3 … 2 … 1 …

Finishing things up tonight to be ready for the new arrival tomorrow. My very much NOT TINY puppy – good lord, Asher already weighs 13lbs! Yes, my little fatty is now the biggest in the litter. Hmph. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything, I already knew these were not going to be tiny dogs – I just was assuming they’d be like, Navarre sized (a little under 22). Navarre has lot of BIG relatives though, and these guys definitely seem to take after the Luna side in term of size.

In my mind I had kind of assumed Asher would kind of grow up sort of like a red Navarre. I’m probably in for a rude surprise, because things never go that way. Still, got to meet Rooster in person and he’s just as sweet and easy as expected. This was a litter of two VERY similar temperaments, and the puppies have been nothing but happy, sweet, social and confident. I’m still assuming Asher will at least have that going for him.

I got to play with Rooster a bit in agility this week, he was super fun and a lovely, easy jumper. He was also a superstar in herding that was very responsive and trying very hard. He really wants to be a good dog, and he’s so sweet and loveable.  It is no surprise that I just adore these puppies, I just love both Dove and Rooster. I really wish they were all staying local, I’m really going to miss them, it’s been a very fun 8 weeks. I’ll keep myself busy though!

I’ve had my share of angst about whether I was doing the right thing the last few weeks, but I really am very confident that this is the right dog for me. I’m so excited to add him to our household and learn who he is – but he just has that ‘good dog’ energy that I adore. He has from day one. He tends to sit back and analyze more than the other boys, he’s a thinker and not as pushy – but so super sweet. Now that he’s the size of a small house I have downgraded my ambitions for him in agility, if he really is a bigger boy I worry more about the impact on his body (though of course we will still do it!). I am excited for him in herding, assuming he gets the best parts of Dove and Rooster … instead of just the issues. I’d love for him to be more responsive and forgiving than Navarre, but more confident and powerful than Haku. And hopefully have more natural distance than Navarre too, which will help me a lot!

I have made some lists, joined some classes, and I have my own puppy classes I’m teaching too – but every puppy is different in what path you take. I have to wait and see what he tells me he’d like to do as a pup. All he really needs to do is fit into our household, the rest is up to him.

As for the other dogs, been making lists and plans for them as well, so they don’t feel left out with the new puppy. Was interesting that in my lists of things I wanted to work on with all the dogs, there was almost no agility skills that we’re actively working on at the moment. We enjoy playing around with whatever I happen to be working on in classes every week, and I know what their issues are in agility, but with Bright being older I’m inclined to manage her – and Navarre has issues to address, but we have other sports we’re focusing on this summer.

As for herding, I entered Haku in ProNovice at a trial in July down at Ian’s. Foolish, perhaps, but I feel him getting older all the time. He now has ‘old dog hair’ – the weird long hair they get on the top of their head for some reason, that you can then style into a little mowhawk. I’d like to attempt a few Pro-Novice trials this year, but I can see that we don’t have long. I think AKC, and especially arena courses, are more appropriate for him at this point. So we’ll give our little Pro-Novice career a little go, probably just at trials at Ian’s, I think, but our time in herding is limited. I eventually will have to actually attempt to work Navarre again at some point … but not yet. Probably this Fall. His time is coming.

No herding for Navarre this week, but Haku played a bit with a slightly larger group at Dave’s where he was surprisingly super slow with this group. So that doesn’t bode well. We played around with a little trick to help him get slower sheep moving, basically wearing behind them. He seemed to enjoy that, and it did work when I could keep the flanks small enough. Haku was also weirdly poor on his responses with this group, where he would take three steps before responding – which is not helpful. But he is always trying his best, love that boy.

Navarre did do some obedience practice, broad jump looked good, if his fronts were a bit off. This was with the higher broad jump though, so I’d like to try it with a flatter one, where they’re more likely to try to cut the corner. He also had some issues with remembering to jump on the return with his dumbbell, so we worked on that. His drop on recall is looking pretty good. I’ve been using an arm signal which I think works better than his verbal … but I’ll keep working both. If he’s distracted at all I think a verbal is better. Heeling continues to be forgey, I don’t think I’m going to fix that one. I’ll definitely be using some different methods to teach Asher to heel. Navarre actually was surprisingly difficult to teach to heel from the start though.

And we played herding games in the park, Navarre is doing better at responding to walk-steady-walk, and, to a lesser extent, his flanks on a toy. He still needs a lot of work with his whistles on a toy. Yeah, we have time. Haku is starting to catch on to the walk up whistle, so something we may be able to use in July. Maybe.

And Bright is adorable, I need to get an agility project for her, I’ve used her as a demo dog a couple times this week and, OMG,  she’s just making shit up. She’s super happy to play though! I really should just work on her running contacts, may not make a difference, but she’ll have fun. Bright turns 8 this month! Gosh time goes by so quickly. The tentative plan is to go down to preferred at the end of this year, maybe qualify for the AKC nationals that is hopefully somewhere that we can drive to. So maybe one more big event for Bright? We shall see. Love my Brightness, and I hope she’ll have fun raising Asher. He seems like such a sweet soul, I can’t imagine her feeling he needs discipline! So far she’s never so much as acknowledged that he, or any of the other puppies, exists.

So tomorrow is the big change, we will have a very busy summer!

Impending Adjustments

Such a beautiful spring hike we had this week, I really love this time of year – it’s just magical. Also been doing a lot of appreciating the easy and comfortable relationship I have with my crew. The life we’ve built in our new home we’ve done together. It was such a big change to go from our old home and form a totally new family unit. My dogs were a huge source of comfort and support throughout that entire process, I am so thankful that they have been with me. Since then we’ve played with puppies and visiting dogs, but it’s just been the three dogs for quite some time now. We’re coming up on three years here, we have all gotten used to the way things are.

A puppy is going to be a big adjustment for everyone, and will change the dynamics in the household, no doubt. Hopefully things will go smoothly, these puppies SHOULD be easy to live with. But change is always stressful, and we will all have to make adjustments. Heck, will there even be room for Asher on the bed? I keep assuming he’s going to be a very big dog (these are NOT petite puppies!). I will be pleasantly surprised if he isn’t, but a big dog takes up a lot of room everywhere. Bright will now be sharing the big crate in the car with Navarre or Haku, which they’ve done quite a bit. There hasn’t been an issue, but it’s an adjustment.

Asher will bring a whole new dynamic when we’re out and about. We already draw quite a crowd when we go to the park, he’ll change the dynamic of our group outings as well. Remembering Navarre’s younger days before we fixed his ‘body slamming’ phase. That was not a fun phase. Navarre is used to always getting the toy (which I’m okay with, because Haku and Bright always seem to do something stupid). What will Asher think of group games and how will the other dogs adjust to him?

Will Asher get along with the cats as well as the other dogs have? Will we have to teach him about staying quiet in the yard? Will he be able to hang out in an x-pen in the arena while I teach? Lots of questions about a puppy, those first couple months are just about figuring out the logistics of how to manage a puppy that doesn’t have any manners yet – and then hopefully teaching some manners. I tend to think if you can get to 5 months you’re usually in the clear. Until then, there’s a lot to work on.

With Navarre I didn’t want to use a crate, and we couldn’t use an x-pen, so we did a lot of tethering to keep him from destroying the world. This litter does not seem to have the vertical aspirations that Navarre and Dove did, so maybe an x-pen will be an option for Asher. This weekend’s project includes digging through the many boxes of dog toys in the garage for appropriate puppy toys. I also ordered him some new ones, and spent way too much money buying him a puppy collar and tag considering I rarely use them once my dogs are grown. I also need to decide where I want to bring him to the vet, which is something that always seems in flux these days.

Joined the Silvia puppy class, I haven’t done anything with her for quite some time. I really enjoy her training and just fun she has with her dogs. I’ve also been following Justine’s puppy class, which is more to the technical side and also very fun. I could do a working spot there too as she has another class coming up as well, but I assume this puppy isn’t going to want to work for even one class, much less two! I’m fully prepared that Asher will be similar to Dove and Navarre and be pretty outwardly focused and not ready to work until he’s older. Which is totally fine, we’re in no rush.

Basically waiting to see what Asher wants to do. This week I worked on wave with all the puppies again. They were almost seven weeks old at that point, and way more distracted! Didn’t help that I took each one out individually to the porch, where they haven’t really been and were pretty distracted by the new location. So they all could still offer a wave with prompting, but not much offering yet. Asher just ran off to explore! He has an independent streak to him. He also remains very sweet and people focused. And with a more high value treat, he was happy to wave. Hard to believe that they’re almost ready to go home, the past seven weeks have flown by. I really like all the pups, not a bad one in the bunch. Seems like there is usually a shy pup or a troublemaker – all these pups are remarkably similar and even.

One more week before we become a four dog household. I’m mostly excited, but somewhat nervous that it could be a big mistake. But you just never know when you bring home a new dog, as you really don’t know what might happen. Worst case scenario, he’s just the wrong dog for our household – we will find out.

I did give him a name, which is perhaps a bit cheesy but, hey: Contact Point Heart of Joy, as Asher means happy/joy. I do hope that he is a happy guy, he certainly seems to be so far. I’m taking the puppies to go swim in a pool tomorrow. Well, theoretically. We’ll see if it happens. Then I’ll see them on Thursday for a little bit with Bonnie and Rooster, but I’m not babysitting that day. And then he comes home on Saturday, and all the housebreaking it is all on me.

Meanwhile, because it’s local and life is short, I’m entering Haku in his first Pro-Novice attempt at a trial in Scio in July. I have no grand ambitions we’ll actually do well, or even do it at all, but it gives us something to shoot for. And it’s local and Haku knows the field, so at least we don’t have to worry about the aspect. So, yeah, that might be a total disaster. Hopefully we don’t just immediately blow it and we at least get to limp through most of a run to try things out. These will not be with Ian’s sheep, unfortunately,  so I don’t know what kind of sheep these will be. Adventure awaits!

Back to practicing all the herding skills and, shockingly, Haku’s issues haven’t magically fixed themselves with disuse. He’s still too fast on the fetch, not fast enough on the drive and he’s not flanking with any sort of precision at a distance. He doesn’t actually know the difference between a big and a little flank. He knows what an outrun is and then he knows little flanks for driving, but if I want him to do bigger flanks when driving, that rarely goes well. So we’ve been working on it with toys, including attempting to teach his walk up on whistle, which just seems to be mostly breaking his lie down on whistle, so now he doesn’t listen to either. Oh, actually teaching Haku new skills is not much fun.

Navarre is ever so slowly learning to do his whistles on toys, which is remarkable that he’s even remotely doing it, and even more amazing that I can actually get the whistles out correctly. Yes, for whatever reason, and certainly not because I practiced it, I seem to magically be able to do the away whistle now. I totally can’t explain that. But Navarre is working on his ‘steady’, wait, big flanks, little flanks and whistles on toys. I think if we get them solid on a toy then we can actually just focus on the sheep skills when we get on actual sheep. Of course, I’m still not working him on sheep, so hey.

And we need to get practicing on his Open obedience skills, it’s JUNE now, so his Open debut is just a few weeks away. I have entered no agility trials, so I guess this is just the Year of Things Other Than Agility. 2020 WAS supposed to be about qualifying for AKC nationals in Reno in 2021, but apparently they tore down a building at the facility there,  so that location isn’t an option any more. I don’t know where the new location will be, bummer about Reno, so nice and driveable from us and we had fun at the last one. I heard they’re considering Arizona, which, ugh, no thank you. Too far and too hot. But I guess I’ll wait to complain that it’s not in my backyard until it’s actually not in my backyard.