Sheep Camp

Ian’s sheep camp was long, there is a lot to talk about with sheep. Thankfully the weather was gorgeous, downright chilly at times and we even had the most rainfall since January. Well, in Portland they did, I don’t think we did down in Scio, but we did get wet. It was perfect though, and I very much enjoyed hanging out in a beautiful setting all day long learning something new.

This was a very helpful experience. In herding they don’t really have a process to initiate the newbies, they don’t break things down and explain the hows and whys of what you’re training. The secret does come down to the sheep, which, once again, no one really talks about sheep behavior and how those effect what you’re trying to do. Well, at least in a way I could understand. Definitely helped fill in some pieces of the puzzle. At least in theory, I can’t say my practical application really improved much. Oh Navarre.

So I now know what they’re talking about by ‘lead sheep’ and how to identify that sheep and other types in the group, why they do the things they do and what to do about them. Theoretically. That requires actually being able to trust your dog to do their job so you can actually WATCH the sheep, which you most definitely should be doing. Which I am not with Navarre (but I can with Haku!). I really tried to get a better understanding of why I end up with issues like split sheep, and while it would be nice if that never happens, what to do when it does (aka ‘driving your car into a ditch’).

It was interesting to see what you should be looking for when you walk the field for a trial (which is not even a thing I knew existed, as no one has done that at any of the trials I’ve been to – well, in the lower levels). It was interesting to learn about the different breeds of sheep and what they’re like and what trials use what – but not super relevant. Navarre and I won’t be trialing for a long, long time (and very possibly not ever).

We did lots of exercises of moving sheep ourselves and pretending to be the dog for someone else, or directing someone else as our dog. I was pretty flat out terrible at a lot of those, I had a hard time taking it all seriously pretending another person is was my dog. But learning to move sheep myself was really helpful, I just haven’t spent any real time with just sheep, without a dog, so that really helped me see how things work.

However, I just can’t do the yelling. I definitely get and appreciate the concept of teaching the dog to read the sheep and fix issues without being micromanaged by you. I think both me and my dog love that idea, I’m quite sure my dogs are in a much better position to really fix things before they go into a ditch. But the yelling … oh, the yelling. I just don’t think that’s the right way for me to communicate with my dog that they need to figure out how to fix something. And then being around other people yelling, I like that even less. Now, Navarre could care less, he loves yelling as it’s associated with sheep and he just thinks sheep are the best thing in the world. But it’s still a constant argument with him, and I’m not up for it and I don’t like it.

So I really enjoyed the concepts that we learned about, including teaching the dog to work independently to fix problems as they arise. All very helpful and logical, I just need to find another way to go about it. Navarre and I do not work that way. Ian and Navarre work great that way. Well, they work, it’s still a constant argument though – and not a little argument, it’s always a BIG argument before Navarre settles down a little. EVERY SINGLE TIME. It’s not helpful to have a sheepdog that can’t work until he’s gotten in trouble 12 times.

So while I feel I learned a lot about sheep and what is SUPPOSED to happen, I don’t feel like I have a clear plan to get there. Without yelling. Or with yelling, to be fair. What I think we need to do is like anything else we work on – break it down, make the dog successful, be clear with each piece before trying to just throw it together and yell at him. So hoping to have time to actually practice and think about what it is that is most important to me with Navarre and herding, and that’s feeling like we’re a team and making sure he knows what his job is, and a clear response when he doesn’t feel like doing that. I most definitely don’t want a robotic dog, I want a partner. You don’t yell at your partner.

Navarre didn’t actually have much to do over the weekend, but he got to work some – which is more than my other dogs, that mostly hung out in their crates in the car. So a long weekend for them. Navarre just did little things, where mostly Ian had to take over as Navarre and I were just a trainwreck. He did work for Anne, which he thought was fun. He was never at all the least be sad or pouting. At all. He was, if anything, more high every time.

Asher seemed more interested in sheep, I let him watch some and he found them curious. So Ian put him in the round pen this week, where the sheep immediately tried to commit suicide and slammed into the fence – Asher avoided them after that. So not ready yet, but definitely getting more into controlling motion of dogs and cats, he’ll get there eventually, I’m fairly certain.

Navarre worked for both Ian and I this week, and things went much better with Navarre and me (and with Ian too, actually). Maybe he does herding better without an audience. Or sitting the car waiting all day. Still, tiny progress is always appreciated. One step at a time. Haku also did very well, we just worked on turns for his AKC arena trial this weekend. He’s such a good boy, though struggles to cover the sheep these days at the farther distances. I may be imagining it, but I feel like he’s gained muscle since we started his new supplement and switched foods. I certainly haven’t seen any stiffness since we went off the veterinary joint formula food, which is good. And we’re on summer break, which means we get out and about a lot more, which is always good.

Took the dogs down to the beach and they had a great time. Asher was a fan of the beach, but I can’t say I know any dog that isn’t! He even swam in the ocean, which is impressive. He did pretty well for his first road trip, including sleeping like a little angel through the night on the bed and I left him several times in a soft crate while we were gone and he didn’t destroy it! He did bark a bit when people would come near on the beach, which was unusual, but he didn’t do it after the first time. Still, we need to get back out in the public and make sure this isn’t a ‘thing’. He did pretty well with all the uncontrolled offleash dogs running up to us, so there’s that. Obi didn’t like him, who usually likes EVERYONE, including Bright who just torments him bossing him around in his own house. There is something about that puppy that just seems to make a very bad first impression. Asher is running around with the other dogs more, which is good and bad as he’s also doing some drive by hair pulling, which, naturally, they don’t appreciate.

Went up to Frenchman’s Bar again this week and he had a great time romping in the water with my dogs and Carol’s dogs. He really seems like such a nice puppy, occasionally obnoxious but I don’t get the dislike from other dogs. I’m ever hopeful he’ll grow out of it. He really is an easy puppy for ME to live with though, other than his destructive streak. He has a good heart and tries very hard, and he’s much more focused on me than Navarre was at this age. No problems hanging out with us while we had lunch, I was glad to see there was no worry at all about people coming and going around him. And he really likes ice cream!

Love that little goober puppy, I’m very much looking forward to him getting past the four month old stage – oh, so not attractive. He looks like a sable currently with his dark hair growing in through his bleached out puppy coat. His teeth are all falling out like crazy and we’ve laid off any tugging for a while. It’s amusing watching him try to eat. His ears rose and then lift and then fall back to ‘puppy’, it’s like a cycle now. I’m pretty sure once he’s done teething we’ll get back to rosed ears. Though they were completely backwards and soaking wet the other night, yet again – Navarre had obviously been having a good time molesting the puppy. Weirdo.

Bright did play with Asher for the second time, we were just hanging out and suddenly Bright started wrestling with him on my feet, I was super surprised. So was he, you could tell he wasn’t sure if she was going to tell him off. They played for a while, until Bright was done, and he immediately backed off when she told him. So, encouraging. Little steps towards acceptance.

I’m actually pretty pleased to see that Asher appears to have the same ‘tiny balls’ that Navarre does. They remain smaller than many 8 week old puppies at four months. I am a big fan of Navarre’s tiny balls, it’s like getting the benefits of an intact dog without any of the more obnoxious traits – and naturally sterile, so no need to worry! I think Ravi has the same tiny balls and their brother in FL still has none, I think. So tiny balls must run in the family.

Otherwise we didn’t do a whole lot of training recently. Mostly review, and briefly introduced scent discrimination one night. He did get both his Intermediate and Advanced trick titles too, such a good boy. Though we have to actually get him registered to do something with them! I have lists of behaviors to work on, but I’m trying to wait to do a lot of the agility flatwork until we’ve introduced some herding. I’d like to work on getting the beginning of a sit-up, still need to work on backing up to an object, side legs, back leg lifts, bow, heeling, skateboarding, caveletti and working on stationing while I’m working with another dog. Always something to work on!

Asher’s First Title!

Spur of the moment I decided I should put some AKC Tricks titles on my dogs, as it was on my mind getting ready for tricks classes this summer. They have the tricks, it’s just finding the time to get it done, and it turned out one my students was an evaluator so I figured I might as well. And as long as I was doing the adult dogs, I figured that Asher could give it a try too. So Asher has his first title, he’s a Novice Trick Dog! So that’s really cute, and next week we will try for his Intermediate, and, assuming we can put it together, we’ll try for his Advanced title as well. It may not happen, but it gives us something concrete to work on this month.

The adult dogs already have all the tricks, but it’s fun to brush up on some to get them on cue, which is a whole different story. And, yes, mostly it’s just time, as it seemed unfair to not do all the dogs, so getting through all the tricks with four dogs takes a long time! So we’ll try to get everyone through a level every week, and the adult dogs should hopefully get their Performer titles by the end of the month as well. They need to have a little skit for that, so that gives us something cute to work on. OMG, Bright, stop making everything up!

Meanwhile, Asher is losing teeth – he’s lost all his tiny front teeth and the two front teeth are coming in. Ears have fallen again and he continues to grow and grow! Hard to believe he’s still just three months old, such a big guy. He remains chunkier than his siblings, which I’m not sure what that means – as neither Dove or Rooster are particularly robust, I’m not sure where he’s getting it from. But it’s always interesting to see how genetics play out, and how sometimes puppies come out looking like their grandparents.

Here are Rooster’s parents:

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He’s definitely hitting adolescence in terms of getting more independent, no longer the cute tiny puppy following me around, it’s me trying to keep track of him. I like that he’s not a cling-on though, it’s a quality that London really taught me to appreciate. Asher knows how to entertain himself and makes himself right at home wherever we go. I see my share of very skittish and reactive border collies, it really makes me appreciate how solid he is. For now, anyway! Who knows what weirdness may be lie ahead.

He’s growing up, making some good decisions … and some less good ones. But he’s figured out that if he hangs out nicely on the bed with me and the other dogs at night I won’t put him in a crate so he can sleep on the bed. He has sort of discovered the counters and that’s less fun managing that. And shoes, he does like shoes.

Our baby retrieve is not nearly as strong as it was, even with his ‘hand’ behavior he just gets too excited playing with the toys sometimes. He loves squeakers and destroying things, so those ‘Skineeze’ toys that are just floppy with squeakers he thinks are great – and likes to chew the legs off. He remains a freakishly strong chewer. Between him and Haku my tomatoes have been decimated – and I don’t mean the tomatoes themselves, I mean the PLANTS. Good lord, the carnage. He tried to take out a tree today.

He remains fun to train with some odd exceptions. We finally achieved a somewhat assertive door close, so that’s nice to mark off the list. We worked on some ‘stay in position’ training and he did not like that, he thinks that’s just sick and wrong for some reason (everything should be a lie down!). And brushing, he has a very weird thing about brushing. I’ve been trying to sidle up to it, but if he even SEES me brushing the other dogs he hides behind the table. Keep in mind he’s never actually BEEN brushed, not for real – there is nothing to brush! We did just some cursory introductions as a tiny puppy, and he was fine. We didn’t look at for a few weeks and when I gave him another cursory brush with a very soft brush he just FLIPPED, no idea why. He likes being pet, no problem, forwards, backwards, ruffled – but the sensation of a brush is something that just wigs him out and it was so unpleasant that ONE experience he still hasn’t gotten over. So I have done just a few tiny ‘sneaky’ sessions where I was petting him nice and relaxed, then snuck in a couple strokes with a soft plastic brush, rewarded and then we back to petting. He didn’t notice … until he noticed, then he was all suspicious. So we will work on it … slowly, discretely. Now, nail trimming he’s a total rockstar with, absolutely no issues, let’s me do whatever. Go figure. And any sort of restraint and exam he’s fine with, it’s just brushes (and combs, I checked!).

We worked introducing putting objects into other objects this week, which went fairly well once I could get him to stop trying to hug everything. We did hug as well with a toy, but attempting to get him to hug while in a sit hasn’t been very productive. He has a hell of a grip with both paws around that object lying down though! We shaped a head down, which is cute as now all the dogs can do it as a group. Though they all refuse to do it at once, there is always ONE troublemaker that likes to ruin the effect. Brought home a wobbleboard just to check, no problems with that at the moment. Need to work on his sit-up, I think he may be getting a little more coordinated, so we’ll see.

As for the other dogs, if anything, Bright has stepped it up a notch – she’s on that puppy like white on rice.  If he so much as steps a toe out of line she has made it her project that she is ON him, and her corrections have gotten harsher – as have Haku’s. And it never has to do anything with her, as he knows better not to fuck with her at all – she corrects him for annoying other dogs OR cats! He was chasing Fizban a bit and she was snapping in his face immediately, “WE DO NOT CHASE CATS!” If Haku growls at him she’s on him in a flash, same with Navarre, that puppy is being made to toe the line. That one incident of playing that I saw with Bright never happened again, she’s back to thinking he just needs discipline. And I believe her, he does have an oblivious over-arousal streak that you see sometimes, such as when he’s around other puppies (which is when she WON’T correct him, funny enough). But also when he’s just really excited he’ll throw himself around and top of the other dogs and is just being over the top obnoxious. Bright does not approve of that sort of thing, well, none of the dogs do. So I will continue to bow to her expertise, Asher certainly doesn’t seem at all subdued or upset about it. He still sleeps cuddled up next to all the dogs, he still feel confident and comfortable around them. I remain hopeful that once the puppy license ends and he makes better decisions, they’ll like him a lot more. Getting closer now, he’ll be four months in another week, I’m optimistic that they’ll be more accepting by five months.

Asher DID play with another puppy! A little border terrier the same age as him, which I figured would be a disaster as he’s so much smaller, but terriers are TOUGH, and he stuck with it and Asher did get better. So they played, somewhat appropriately eventually, and that was nice to see. Now, getting there Asher was way too rough and pushy and was running him over and body slamming, but thankfully terriers can take being body slammed by giant border collie puppies. It was nice to see Asher relax and play more normally though. Still not exactly gentle and sweet (ha!), but better. I don’t think he’ll be the right playmate for a lot of dogs, but apparently if they can handle his initial assault, he’s not too bad.

Oh, and we finally got around to getting that last puppy vaccination. Man, that vet does not like me. And maybe my understanding of immunology is way off, but I have never heard of ‘if you don’t get your puppy series close enough together you have to vaccinate again’. I think I’m one THOSE people, that thinks they know more than their vet – which I really don’t want to be – but this makes zero sense to me. She was obviously very annoyed by me not consenting to a lepto vaccination, for declining to do this ‘extra’ distemper/parvo vaccination and for saying I wanted to wait until he was over six months to vaccinate for rabies. My understanding of the ‘series’ of vaccinations for puppies is that we don’t know when the maternal antibodies actually wear off with puppies, so we’re hedging our bets by doing several vaccinations to have a better chance of covering the puppy as they grow through that crucial age period (you’re not ‘boostering’ a previous vaccination, you’re just trying to get your dog vaccinated without the maternal immunity getting in the way). However, after 16 weeks the maternal antibodies should definitely be gone, so you know that if you get that last shot after that point that they’re covered. And I’m not a veterinarian, I didn’t go to vet school, but I have never had a vet tell me that I need to vaccinate my almost 17 week old puppy again because there was ‘too much time’ between his this vaccination and his last (almost 5 weeks).

Maybe I’m wrong, that’s entirely possible, but between her bad attitude and wanting to talk to a vet I actually trust and will listen to my concerns, I just don’t want to go back there. Oh, and she was really not friendly at all to my puppy. Luckily the staff appreciated all his cute tricks. It’s frustrating trying to find a vet that you can really trust – and who can actually see you when your pet is ill. Oh, and isn’t an hour away. I think it’s time to check out vets up in Canby now. Back to the drawing board. I really should get Dragon’s teeth cleaned, but I don’t want to do that until feel comfortable with a vet. That may take a while.

Oh, and Asher weighs 23.9 lbs and was a perfect patient. 24 lbs seems okay four months, not too gigantic. He’s probably around 17 inches, I think – all legs and head.

I have been seeing little glimpses of herding behavior coming out with Asher. A tiny stalk here and there, but mostly he is thinking about stopping motion by heading off dogs and cats. He doesn’t seem to have a lot of eye, so he may be more like Navarre than Dove in that regard. Still, I have no idea how much you can tell at this age. More than most puppies I’ve had here, he’s been the least interested in running after the adult dogs, which I find unusual in a border collie – he’s just not that keyed in on motion. So he still mostly just watches the other dogs run around with this look on his face like they’re stupid to be wasting their energy like that. Then he ambushes them with a body slam and steals the toy. And when we get back from the park he ‘prunes’ my tree because he’s not tired at all. Hmph.

I did tell Dave that I would try to work with Asher in herding before we started agility. As Asher is such a big boy I had no plans to do much with him in agility until he was fully grown anyway (which will be a while!). However, what exactly is ‘agility’? I mean, we already do lots of playing with toys and running and chasing, so maybe it’s too late already to ‘do herding first’. My plan is to see what he can do in herding around 5-6 months old and basically do a little every month until he’s older. If it seems like he’ll be fun to train in herding, I’m willing to stick with that for a while and start agility later. But if he’s difficult, we’ll just say screw it and go do agility. Agility is way easier (and more fun!) 😉

As for herding, I have officially taken over Navarre. That has gone … about as expected. I’ll have to say, it seems to make him really happy. Overly happy, one might say. It’s nice to see him smile though, been entirely too much Navarre angst the last couple months. Still, there was no way I would have been able to both train the behaviors and attempt to manage Navarre at the same time, he really did need to have someone else help us with that. Now that he does know what he’s supposed to do, it’s just a matter of getting our shit together instead complete chaos.

So, yeah, Navarre – too fast, too close – that hasn’t changed. I think he’s better than he was at listening, but, uh, still not great. It’s not helpful in herding to have your dog lie down five steps after you’ve asked them. But Ian had some helpful insights about it. I would work Navarre and then Haku, and he asked me what the difference was. Really they are total opposites, where Haku underflanks when I ask, Navarre overflanks – with underflanking you can always ask for another flank, with overflanking you have completely change directions and bring the sheep back. Haku can be too cautious, Navarre not enough (so scattering sheep). And Haku is much calmer and slower – which means when I ask him to stop or change direction he can do it instantly, because it’s easy when you’re not going fast. Expecting Navarre to stop instantly when going 70 miles per hour is unrealistic, so, yes, he’s always out of position and I’m so very late. So the question has always been, how do I stop Navarre from going 70 mph? And the answer is pretty much ‘lie him down’.

Now this doesn’t sound helpful, especially with the previously mentioned problem that by the time he DOES lie down it’s not at all where he needed to be. But it’s not about managing him with lying him down, it’s lying him down until he slows the hell down. So basically if the sheep are running ask for him to steady, when he does not (because of course he won’t) it’s lie down … and wait. And wait. And wait. If I ask him to get up and he rushes,  lie him back down again. But if he gets up on his OWN slow and careful, then he’s allowed. Ah, herding. And if he keeps calm and steady, he doesn’t have to lie down, he can continue to work. But working like a maniac gets you put in a down until you get up thoughtfully.

And he still ran straight at the sheep today instead of going on an outrun – which he only does with me, apparently. So weird. Then was only bringing me half of the sheep. But we’re trying. And he’s happy, and so am I. I have no expectations, he never has to be good at anything, but we’re going to keep trying. And I’m very hopeful this Fall we will get to do some regular practicing, which is what we really need. And we’re doing a herding clinic in the Fall in Idaho! I have no great expectations of that either, but it will be fun to go see Bonnie and spend some time in Idaho, which I’ve never done. Any herding progress with be a bonus, and it will be good for Asher to have a road trip experience.

Oh, and Navarre responds a lot better to whistles than verbals, well, at least the lie down whistle. I had a little session with Ian this week on my whistles and, yeah, though my ‘low’ sound is better than it was, it’s still ridiculously high. So basically I can only make high and higher sounds, but I can’t seem to make low tones, especially in a hurry. So I need to go back to trying to get those, I just can’t seem to find the secret of that …

And Haku continues to do great with the things he does well in herding. We have no problems at all moving sheep around calmly and with great teamwork … within a certain distance. He still can be a bit tentative on his drives sometimes, but for the most part he seems back to ‘normal’. He loves his turns, and waits patiently when it isn’t and is perfect, of course. 10 years old is a magical age – love that dog.

And this weekend is ‘Sheep Camp’ down at Ian’s. A very LONG weekend, Saturday is 12 hours, I believe. But it really does sound like what I need, which herding ACTUALLY EXPLAINED. Which I’ve been trying to get someone to do for like 15 years. So I’m looking forward to it, and it’s going to RAIN – in August! The weather gods continue to be so kind this year. The only reason I was dreading this event was the weather, so now I’m quite looking forward to it. Though 12 hours … yeah, we’ll see how that goes.

 

15 Weeks

Asher continues to be really fun to train. He’s an enthusiastic and focused problem solver. He can get easily frustrated sometimes, but I try to make sure my rate of reinforcement is very high. He does have a ‘stubborn’ streak about anything that he doesn’t care for, that is a dog that likes to have things a certain way, and is willing to stage a protest if he doesn’t get it. Definitely a dog that does best when he thinks everything is his idea. I think Navarre is similar in that when Navarre is doing behaviors he really likes, everything is smooth and easy – but if he decides he doesn’t care for something, he leaves you know doubt about how he feels.

Asher’s retrieve and hold training went very fast. He quickly moved up to holding an object firmly no matter how I poked and wiggled it, and then targeting the object to my hand. We have tried a few different objects as well, including a dumbbell that is way too big for him, but he had no issues. We then moved into throwing the object and then returning to hand without an issue. Love that puppy, so much fun to train!

We have struggled more with backing up to an object. Like many dogs, he took pains to make sure he DIDN’T touch the platform when backing up, practically jumping BACKWARDS over it. So still working on backing onto a platform, but his stretch forward on his touch is amazing and he generalized coming across the board into position no problem. Haven’t proofed it with speed yet though.

We continue to look at proofing stays, he can now wait to be released as the last dog when we have dinner, releasing only on his name and waiting while the other dogs run past him. He now stays with the group before being released when we go out to play as well. It’s a good start and makes everything easier, such as when I’m sitting down with the bowl of treats to train, I can now put him on a stay so he doesn’t dump over the food enthusiastically jumping on me!

He has a sit now, but it’s not very strong and still has a half hearted wave to go along with it. Need to finish up training his pedestal pivot in the opposite direction, and it has not transferred well to have him pivot into heel. If I ask him to pivot while my leg is there he just bashes into me like it’s a personal challenge to get around me (kind of a theme where Asher is concerned).

Still hates cupboard slamming, and it’s a mystery why. This is a dog that bashes into everything and has no noise sensitivity that I’ve seen – and my cupboards don’t slam with his sissy nose touches anyway but ever so gently close noiselessly. We keep at it, starting training sessions with a very reluctant cupboard close before moving to the ‘fun stuff’.

We started teaching a pole hug this week, he’s done a few sessions and is doing some very cute enthusiastic hugs … in a down, which is probably related to the paw crossing, as they are related. He can also hook a paw around when he’s sitting, but in a down he’ll get both feet around the pole. He wouldn’t be able to do that in a sit since he doesn’t have a sit-up yet, and doesn’t have the strength for that yet.

Things that didn’t go super well were circle work, where he would cut behind me every time, and downs when he was excited – he gets sticky and mesmerized. Also had some issues with his leg weave recalls where he would abort at the last second as well.

We do considerably less visiting while I’m teaching these days. First he doesn’t really need to go out much, and second he’s trouble as he knows how to go through the doors in the arena and run amuck, so I have to be careful. If I’m working with him directly, no problem – he has amazing focus even with other dogs and people around. But if I’m not directly engaged he’s off to pummel the masses. That is a dog that is going to need some serious retraining not to leap on people when he gets bigger, as I’m certainly not teaching him good habits at the moment and he’s very physical. He continues to love his crate in the car and as we always have his mid-days snacks, he loves to get into the car, which is handy.

He continues to love play. He loves to play with all sorts, chasing and tugging and retrieving. He switches easily from toys to food and back, and from toy to toy, he just wants the action. He does want to show off his toys if there are other dogs around though, so his retrieve isn’t nearly as strong then. He’s just a fun boy, I don’t understand why other dogs don’t like him as I think he’s super fun.

Went hiking with his siblings again this week, things were much less chaotic and calmer overall. Especially in the beginning all the dogs were getting along with much less posturing and overarousal. Now, later in the hike we had issues again, almost exclusively between Flea and Asher – they have a thing, mostly it seems like Flea really feels the need to give it to Asher, and I think he’s inviting it. But siblings are interesting like that, they have a whole history together. Overall they had fun together, and my crew doesn’t worry about all the puppies, they ignore them all equally.

Asher has had more appropriate interactions with adult dogs this week, which is what he really needs. I don’t think he’s learning anything helpful playing with puppies, except possible how to swear more. He’s more relaxed around other breeds and they seem less offended by him. He’s a confident guy, but seems to feel less need to posture these days.

We had an interesting change in our relationship this week, not sure if it’s a phase or what, but suddenly Asher got much more cuddly. Where before if he was on the bed he was usually over by himself, but this week would come snuggle up next to me before obnoxiously chewing on things for hours at a time. He just seems sweeter and initiating snuggling instead of just constant action. I’m a big fan of sweetness, so this is a change I’ve been enjoying. He’s been a very busy puppy and not too interested in cuddling so far, so maybe that will change. It’s okay if he’s not that into it, I’ve already got three very cuddly dogs – it’s hard to cuddle four dogs at once!

Meanwhile, all the thawing that seemed to take place with Asher and my dogs did not seem to last long. They’re all back to wanting him gone and letting him know about it. I still don’t understand why they are so against him, he really is not an annoying puppy compared to many of the others we’ve had through the years. But my dogs, ALL my dogs, think he needs an incredible amount of discipline, and they are giving it to him. Even Haku corrects him, and Haku doesn’t correct any dog! I would say they’re more USED to him, but there is a lot of unhappy older dogs. Asher, of course, doesn’t care – just as happy as can be. Go figure. I try to give them lots of breaks from the puppy and special one on one time – and continue to be optimistic that they’ll learn to like him once he’s out of the baby puppy stage. I do think that if they’re still unhappy with him at 6-7 months I need to make a decision if he’s right for us, but I truly think they’ll thaw in time.

The EO was over the weekend, such a bummer for the ridiculously hot temperatures. What is it about that event? They always seem to have extreme weather of some sort there. I’m glad they ended up figuring out ways to make sure the dogs didn’t have to run in the heat though. Courses looked really fun and, wow, they’re are some amazingly fast dogs out there! I do very much enjoy watching it, but I’ll admit I’m feeling rather ambivalent about working on the skills that would be needed at such a level. We just don’t have that kind of agility around here, and never will. I have zero interest in flying to europe just to do dog agility, so I’m with those that feel agility in the US is stagnating. I very much believe it should be accessible to all, but there is no reason at all to actually train and push in this country, just be steady and qualify. I feel like if it bothers me I should do something to help fix that, but I’m not sure what that would be.

Actually training Asher in agility seems a LONG way away, but it’s amazing how quickly they grow. I expect him to be a big boy, so we won’t be doing a whole lot until he gets older. He does occasionally do tunnels just for fun when we’re hanging out in the arena, just because. I do love training agility, so I’m very much looking forward to that. The training is my favorite part, after that it doesn’t seem like there is much to do with the skills once you have them!