Merry Christmas!

I haven’t been much in the holiday spirit this year, for whatever reason, but I did get the dogs a subscription to the Power Chewer Bark Box for Chrismas. If you pre-pay for a year you can get it down to about $20 a month, and I think that seems worthwhile. I had gotten them a Bullymake box for a while a couple years ago and enjoyed that, but so far the BarkBox seems like it’s higher quality and more variety and innovation of toys. The dogs have loved the toys, the chews were fine and I’ve finally broken down and all the animals get ‘bedtime cookies’ now, so the treats go to good use. Initially it was just Asher getting bedtime cookies as I was feeling bad about him having to sleep in a crate, but the rest of the household caught on quickly, and especially the cats are just a little insane about the whole ritual. The gift that keeps on giving.

Speaking of which, I bought the cats a big bottle of fairly potent CBD oil, the same kind I gave to Dragon that really made a huge change in his personality to the more outgoing and affectionate cat he is today. Dragon remained confident even after the original bottle was gone, but the other cats never tried it. So I have been adding it to everyone’s food to see if the other cats find it as magical as Dragon. So far the only cat that seems at all different is Dragon, he’s even MORE affectionate now. He really seems to respond to it, the other two I can’t really say I see any change. They’ve been taking it for over a week now, twice a day. We’ll use up the rest of the bottle, but that’s their Christmas present this year.

The dogs very much enjoyed their Christmas trip to the beach, which was Asher’s third stay at my parent’s house – every trip he’s a little easier. He really is growing up, no issues with him at all this time, including sleeping on the bed without bugging me – which the other dogs cannot claim. Such a nice weekend, we had some gorgeous weather with some extreme tides, we got to see it both as far as out as I had ever seen, as well as the opposite with lots of sneaker waves (which required being much more careful!).

I was also very pleased about Asher making good decisions as well. He has always had a bit of ‘stranger danger’ when someone comes unexpectedly towards us. We were at the beach and a guy was walking towards us and I didn’t even need to say anything, Asher immediately offered heel position and just eyed the guy suspiciously until he passed, then carried on playing. No dramatics at all. Good puppy! Way more than the other dogs he feels the need to point out any possible dangers of the world, but he’s trusting me to take care of them once he’s pointed them out now. I did find it kind of funny, we got caught in a bottle neck heading back to the car where there was a crowd of people congregating right where we needed to go, he was all suspicious towards everyone … unless they had a dog, in which case he was all Mr. Friendly. People with dogs are apparently good people in his book.

Border collies do make you look good, as we were walking through that throng of people, we got through them and were heading out and I noticed that Haku had dropped the ball somewhere back behind us. I just sent him back through all the people to go find it on the beach, and he does and races back to me, because he’s a border collie. People were very impressed with his ‘training’, which has nothing to do with training and everything to do with being a single minded border collie.

A lovely weekend where my dogs managed to bring in more sand into my parent’s house than ever before. The gift that keeps on giving, I’m afraid! The dogs appreciated their beach vacation though.

Training-wise we haven’t been doing much, just some agility basics with Asher. Knock on wood, he appears to finally be grasping the concept of what jumps are for. He’s now very deliberately attempting to keep the bar up with our tiny one jump bending work. So that’s a relief. Of course, this is with no motion and me sitting on the ground, with motion it will be a different story, I’m sure. But we’re in no rush, the goal was to get the idea that ‘jumps are for jumping’, and I think we’re almost there. Also been doing a bit of flatwork from Justine’s running contact course, don’t know if that’s the method I’ll be using, but it’s good body awareness and shaping exercises anyway. Basically been going back to revisit four feet in a box, different boxes, with motion, etc. Then using additional props to get him driving through the box in different ways, just fun little games.

We headed down to the poodlebarn again this week, beach vacations and running circles around the other dogs when hiking does absolutely nothing to tire out the Red Menace – how did breeding two rather chill dogs create such a busy little monster? The boy has stamina for days when it comes to purely physical activity. However, it only takes about 5 minutes to totally exhaust him with high energy training. Especially agility, he definitely just wipes himself out in a short period of time. So while I don’t think he really needs to be doing much of anything at this age agility-wise, we are continuing to play around as he’s driving me nuts destroying the world at home. He continues to be a fun little thing in agility, and the one jump work we did seemed to make a big difference, he was doing a much better job at keeping up the low bars since the last time we were there.

We worked on extension to collection, go-on, tunnel threadles, come to hand and table – and put some baby sequences together, which was fun. His table was pretty bad! I blame herding, all that stopping on his feet has really bled into life everywhere – the boy does not like to sit or lie down when excited. And we obviously haven’t trained the table coming at it with speed. I guess I am thinking that the table will be gone by the time he starts competing, but I could be wrong. He hasn’t had the lightbulb moment with the tunnel threadle yet, so it’s still a two part behavior of calling him and turning him away. He can collect very nicely with a lot of turning cues, but he will go into orbit if you don’t control his path. I don’t expect him to be a tight turning dog. I suppose I should actually have a plan so that he doesn’t become as drifty as Navarre is. Though I still think that’s more just who Navarre is rather than any sort of real training issue. Hm.

Other dogs also got to play around some too, of course, a little bit of everyone in this video playing around:

We also went down to play with Heidi’s sheep, taking advantage of the opportunity while we can. I brought both a stick and a rattle bottle out with Asher this time. Asher has no idea what a stick means and doesn’t really respond to it as pressure, but he definitely responds to the rattle bottle. Not in a negative way, but he seems to notice that I’m giving information much more than with the stick. So we ditched the stick and it was so much better for both of us! We worked on stopping, flanking, walking up and staying behind me. He did great, and, once again, doesn’t take much before you can tell his little brain is done. He really does need this kind of thing more and more these days, that is a brain that needs ‘work’, but I don’t think of him as mature enough to actually handle it. So, yeah, don’t quite know what to do with the little red monster. I think he needs to grow up!

Grooming has become a total non-issue for Asher, we did a full paw trim this week. I don’t know what’s with his sudden hair explosion, but he’s got it coming out EVERYWHERE. So he’s now got all tidy feet, continues to be totally chill with his nails and no issues with brushing anymore – which is good, as he’s now got all this HAIR to brush!

I remembered I had some of Haku’s ‘Fat Food’ left up in the cupboard and have been supplementing Asher with that to try to get some weight on him. He seems a LITTLE bit less boney, but not much. That boy is hard to keep weight on, and feed him too much and he gets loose stool. Ah, puppies. Maybe someday he’ll stop growing. I’d love for him to stop right now, he’s nice size, not too big, smaller than Navarre. But I imagine he’s got a lot of growing to do still. Alas.

8 Months!

My little puppy is 8 months old – gah, the time goes by so quickly! He’s most definitely not a tiny puppy anymore, he suddenly has sprouted this massive man-mane, which really surprised me. I think he’s going to have more coat than Navarre, which I didn’t think he would. He is starting to even look a little handsome and athletic occasionally instead of goofy and awkward all the time. Just thrilled with him, he has the most charming and sweet personality and such a biddable dog without any real softness or worry. Gets along wonderfully with my dogs and my cats, so much fun to train and is turning into a nice little herding dog. I just feel very fortunate he came into my life I continue to love the dog he’s turning into.

The whole litter continues to be LARGE, with his sister in CA near 40 pounds at 8 months and over 21 inches. These are SUBSTANTIAL dogs! Sister Flea remains tall very feminine and much more leggy than Asher. Asher may be taller than her at this point, he definitely had a growth spurt. I’d guess his weight around 40 pounds, he’s no lightweight. Brother Ravi seems taller but a little more leggy like Flea. They are all very athletic, sweet and fun dogs. And they don’t want to kill each other any more!

We had all three of the local pups together with Heidi and Dove for a family reunion at Poodletopia. I wasn’t sure how that was going to go. The pups hadn’t been together for a few months, and things had never gone smoothly even when we were hiking and keeping them moving with other things to distract them. Having all three just hanging out together at Heidi’s seemed a bit of recipe for disaster, but they proved they have finally grown past their littermate squabbles (mostly!).

The pups did great together and had so much fun. It was just amazing to watch the three pups and Dove run around in a big pack. While they all definitely look different, watching them move together there was no question they were related. And it was interesting to watch how Dove reacted to them, which was, well, like their mom. She pretty much acted the same as she did when they were 8 weeks old, which is mostly just watching them run around together with an air of relaxed maturity. But also she would get in there and play with the pups, and occasionally tell them to knock it off, but mostly just supervised or encouraged appropriate play. It was adorable, they were all thrilled to see her, to see Heidi and to see each other. Really, really fun to see them together, and so pleased that they are actually friends now. I would not have guessed that when they were younger, they took quite some time to get over the puppy feelings. I hope we can continue to get them together, they all definitely speak the same language.

Asher graduated to the arena in herding. Though less from ability and more from the fact that Ian’s round pen was quickly turning into a muddy mess so it would be really helpful if he didn’t have to use it. So it was nice to know he can handle the arena, and I was thrilled with what he was doing. He was trying hard for me in the round pen and worked great for Ian with the arena. With a rattle bottle he was staying behind the sheep and not being a pushy maniac with Ian in the arena. I really do think he’s going to be so much easier in herding, he so wants to be right. I am looking forward to having a dog that enjoy working with that we have the time and ability to train all the things. You know, eventually. We have a nice start so far, and that feels good. And he remains very gentle on the sheep, which I find interesting.

Navarre and Ian continue to look good and Navarre is just so much more relaxed and cooperative these days. And as I have no immediate plans to work with him, it’s super relaxing for me. Haku continues to work on shedding, it’s good practice for me and Haku enjoys it. He’s got the basic idea, still working on me getting a nice hole where I feel confident he’ll actually come through. And at least one pair of my waterproof pants are not as waterproof as I thought. Winter has arrived.

As for agility, I introduced Asher to a low jump bar, just to get him understanding how to wrap with a bar as well. OMG, that took forever to get him past the idea that I really didn’t want him to stomp all over the bar! It will be an ongoing project, apparently, but once he had the basic concept he CAN do multiwraps with an 4 inch bar … sometimes. I think it made a bit more sense when we did some wraps in sequence with low bars, but he is not one Nature’s Jumpers.

I wouldn’t say Asher is a particularly gifted athlete in general. He’s just kind of an overly enthusiastic awkward klutz, though he has a lot of try, it does not come natural for him. Now, in terms of ranking, London was by far the least athletic puppy I’ve ever raised. He couldn’t even run in the woods until he was almost grown, he would just trip over everything – and he couldn’t even jump on the bed until he was like 7 months old. Haku is definitely more of a natural athlete, but he’s held back by his structure and depth perception. Bright is freakishly aware of where her body is, and always has. I could do so many things with her from a young age because she could do it, and she could do it safely as she never threw her body around. Navarre could jump and climb and balance like no one’s business from day one, all of the body awareness and conditioning exercises were so simple for him. And then there’s Asher … he’s definitely not London, but he’s definitely not a natural, and definitely not careful.

I did more body awareness and specific conditioning training with Navarre as a puppy than any other dog before, I often wondered if that’s what made him seem so easy with that kind of thing. Uh, no. Asher has done a ton as well, but you can put him on a balance donut and he can still barely balance up there because he’s just not being thoughtful about what he’s doing. I definitely proved we have more work to do with balancing this week, sheesh.

Anyway, so, jumping with Asher. I’m not sure if the right answer is to just wait for him to get older, or work with him now so he can start learning the baby jumping skills that he will need to build on when he gets older. All I wanted to do was introduce jumping as a body awareness exercise, multiwraps with a bar, they have to really think about what they’re doing. Which he most definitely does NOT. OMG, so many knocked bars, it’s like he has no idea he HAS a rear. We had to really break the behavior down, starting with just throwing food from one side to the other, no bending at all until he could actually start clearing the 4 inch bar occasionally so I could actually mark it. Then I gradually started throwing at more an angle until we could sometimes do just a back and forth bend. But, still, no real comprehension that his job is to actually not hit the bar. I tried a bit higher bar, that just made it worse. So, yeah, that was so way harder than I would have anticipated, and it’s still an ongoing project.

I did go ahead and introduce some low bars in sequence, where he does actually do better as I think it makes more ‘sense’, and that helped his basic foundation exercises … a little. Agility got much less fun after the bar was introduced, but I want to at least get to a point where he understands what the point of bars is. He doesn’t need to be doing any actual ‘jumping’ at this point, but I thought we could work on the concept that ‘bars are for jumping’ and start to introduce some little 4 inch sequences for him to be introduced to the concept of jumps and striding. We may have to put it away though. Which I’m on the fence about whether that will just make it worse down the road if we don’t address it now when he’s still younge. Hm.

Winter has finally arrived with a big storm this week so I did take the dogs to the soon to be gone Poodle Barn to get some exercise in. I introduced Asher to some basic collection vs extension exercises and he caught on quickly. We also tried just little bit of putting three jumps together in a sequence and it was a total disaster – OMG, he just shot out into the atmosphere. So that was kind of funny, that is not usually the issue that baby dogs have, but when your 8 month old puppy just launches into orbit in the first sequence you ever try and doesn’t want to come into you, I think that gives you a pretty good idea of what kind of challenges we will be facing in the future. Once again, I remember Bright could do a ridiculous amount of things at a young age because she was so tight and easy. Asher is apparently … not. But fun, he’s always having a lot of fun. I didn’t expect him to actually do anything, we haven’t trained it! But him just launching into a huge outrun was kind of amusing. I don’t think he’ll be easy in agility, but, yes, fun. As long as he’s not taking out every jump along the way …

A little video, because he’s not been a very documented puppy video-wise. Some basic figure 8 wing work and our introduction to extension collection lines at the arena:

We really haven’t been working on much, and I think that shows in that he’s been more destructive around the house and in the yard. He’s a dog that needs mental work and I was kind of taking a break because we had kind of gotten past that baby stage where they need EVERYTHING, so it was nice NOT to train anything new for a while.

I have a bunch of projects that I’m saving for winter break, which is right around the corner. Hard to believe that 2019 has gone by so quickly! I think having a puppy is so time consuming I don’t remember doing much else other than puppies, puppies, puppies all year long. We’ll see what adventures 2020, possibly some big changes around here, which I think we’re ready for … we shall see.

I do think I need to make entering trials with the dogs a priority this year. I had hoped to have a little incentive like nationals to give me something to shoot for, but, really, the reason I do agility is because I love agility. Bright is getting up there, now is the time to do everything she wants to do – and she loves her agility. Running at 16 in a blast with her and we have our partnership down. I’m even okay if she wants to freelance, as she most definitely does these days. No big goals other than celebrate with my best girl as much as I can. We will still probably stick to one day trials, but considering how few we did this year, it won’t take much to top that. She’s 8 and a half and ready to roll, now’s the time.

Navarre is also grown up, he’ll be FIVE next year, which means he really should be bringing it together by then. We haven’t been working on our agility partnership this year though, and you can’t improve without practice. So I’d like to get our shit together in 2020, he’s ready, we just need mileage and getting out there. As we mostly only have AKC trials locally, I’d like to think he could get his MACH this year. I can’t remember how many double Qs he has, but mostly it comes down to actually showing enough to feel consistent and to actually have a chance to finish that off. If we trialed enough, he would do it. He will also definitely continue with herding, as it makes him very happy. I had originally thought I might do a Winter of Herding with him this year, but I’m going to stick with other people working him. It doesn’t make me sad at all, and I don’t think he minds either! We may at some point look at finishing his Open obedience title again, but I also think neither one of us is enjoying it overly much, and that’s really the reason you should do anything with your dog. So, we’ll see. Definitely not a priority!

Haku – my boy, my heart! He’s getting older – faster than I’d like. He’s still doing well, but I do worry and he definitely feels much ‘older’ than he did this time last year. Last year we were doing our Winter of Herding – it was so much fun! I’m glad we did it, it was the best winter of his life. He continues to herd, and will continue to do so, but no big goals for him. He may even go up with Carol to some AKC trials again next Spring, we’ll see. He’s definitely getting more opinionated and nuttier. I can’t have him out when I train other dogs or just spins up and starts biting the other dogs feet. And, oh, the barking! What is it about old dogs getting so NAUGHTY? I think because I lost London so young I do worry about Haku and something happening to him. I think every old dog should live until at least 15, but I also know that may not be realistic. OMG, 15 year old Haku is going to be so obnoxious! I can see him in my mind, he’s going to be arthritic as hell, but still thinking he’s invincible, and he’ll just bark all the time because he can’t hear and doesn’t care – as he stalks cats all over the house all day long. God I love that dog.

And Asher in 2020 will have a very full year of all the fun things baby dogs get to do! He’ll get to grow up and start to learn REAL agility! We’ll train running contacts and weaves and learn how to sequence without shooting halfway across the arena. I love training baby dog things! Hopefully we’ll continue to progress with herding, I’d like to think I’ll be able to do things with him that I never could with Haku and Navarre. And he’ll get to grow up and show me how big he’s really going to get, we’ll enter some seminars and see if he can keep his shit together around other dogs.  So many things!

Bring on 2020, we’re ready …

Almost Perfect

Asher continues to give glimpses of a dog that may have issues with overarousal. Which is unexpected as he’s such a chill dog to live with at home. But that is a puppy that when he turns it on, he REALLY turns it on. Dialated pupils and frantic not thinking behavior. This week he got in big trouble (twice!) after getting too excited entering the arena with the other dogs and started biting heads – yeah, you don’t bite my Haku, buddy. And agility, just with the tiny bit we’ve done, really seems to spin him up quickly. Maybe it’s just a phase as he is, well, seven months old. We shall see. Asher is actually doing MOSTLY well at learning to wait his turn on the table while I work other dogs in agility – which, uh, may not be very calming overall, however.

It’s always interesting with a puppy, in hindsight it always seems obvious what you SHOULD have done as you trained them. But while you’re in the process and they’re still growing up, you can only have glimpses of the dog they will become. I’m on the fence at the moment that I think Asher is going to be fucking awesome in agility … or a trainwreck of knocked bars and overarousal and throwing his body around … or possibly neither. Only time will tell, but he’s definitely got …. potential. Potential for what, that’s the question. I love puppies and discovering who they are.

No big training goals with Asher at the moment. We have actually worked on our circle work, which he seems to have magically figured out how not to slam into the back of my legs. Still some issues getting him to come to the side of my body that I indicate though, he just gets fixated sometimes. He is … fast. And powerful. We shall see how that translates eventually.

We continue to work a lot on walking politely with me, especially with the whole group of dogs. He has gotten a lot better, we are now fixing him wanting to walk next me but curled around so I’m tripping on him – so, yeah, get back, dude. Also finally is catching a toy with a hug when you toss one to him – that was hard and requires a lot of core strength and coordination. Navarre, of course, totally wins at this behavior – he’s the cutest hugger.

Agility-wise we worked on Asher’s tunnel entrance problem, where he would choose whatever entry seemed most convenient. Now that he knows his threadle cue and understanding which side of the tunnel that means (well, the beginning stages of it), this week we went back to what ‘tunnel’ means, which means take the ‘obvious’ side even if the ‘non-obvious’ side is closer. It took a bit of work, but he LOVES his tunnels. Wraps continue to look very nice, I think he’s about ready to learn to threadle his wing wraps as well. That will give us a lot of skills to play with! We’re having a lot of fun together.

Asher did his first pinwheel this week, well, pinwheel of wings. And his first 16 inch table! We worked on adding distance and more opposite motion to his figure eights and he thought that was fun. Mostly we struggle with getting him to bring the damn toy to my hand when we use squeaky toys, which he loves. He will bring tug toys all the way into me no problem though (loves to SLAM into me to do that!). So that’s a mystery.

I’m estimating that he’s around 21 inches now, so he can stop growing. He continues to LOOK shorter than his local siblings, who seem more leggy. It could be an illusion, as I think he’s got more substance than them, but they LOOK taller. And, yes, that would make his sister over 21 inches! He is starting to look more and more like a dog, and I think sometimes even kind of handsome. I now think that he’s a lovely red color and never think about the color at all other than to think how adorable he is. He’s going to be big and beautiful – at least in my mind. His ears STILL can’t figure out what they want to do. They waffle from airplane to rose to forward drop aussie ears to often flipped completely backwards – no lack of character in those ears!

I really do adore that boy and I’m so glad that I got him. I’m probably a little too glowing, because it’s not like he doesn’t have issues. He has dug up and destroyed every bulb in the back yard, all my solar lights, chewed the cord to my outdoor lights, my hose sprayer and the wood molding on my covered porch. He regularly ‘prunes’ my trees and has starting digging holes as well. For whatever reason he started peeing on the rug in the middle of night, even though he almost NEVER had an accident before then – so he has to now sleep in a crate at night. There has been a re-emerging of body slamming the other dogs and his new face snapping/biting thing to other dogs when over aroused. He still body slams me like a 40 lb concrete brick, he really wants to be an alarm barker (not in my house!). I continue to have off and on loose stool issues with him, which I’m suspicious may because of digging up and eating crap he shouldn’t, or possibly because I keep trying to feed him more because he’s so freakin skinny. So maybe not TOTALLY perfect, but he’s pretty darn awesome anyway. And someday he’ll grow out of all that … hopefully.

Other dogs did work on some distance handling drills, we were rusty and Bright, OMG, just makes up the craziest stuff when she’s confused. So mostly worked with Navarre, who is all about going out away from me. Apparently no West Coast AKC Nationals for 2021, which was going to be our goal for 2020 to qualify for. There is USDAA Nationals in California, but there are so few local trials that I don’t see that happening. Apparently AKC may try a West Coast national again in 2022 (possibly Idaho?), but Bright will be almost 11 at that point, so I don’t know about doing a bunch of trailing with a 10 year old dog to get qualified. 2021 in Reno would have been perfect, but oh well. So no big agility goals once again in 2020, we barely competed this year, we’ll see what happens next year. By the end of year Asher may be ready to compete, and competing with a baby dog is FUN, as everything is a challenge!

Back to herding this week, because I wanted to make sure I was doing everything correctly, I had Ian work Asher. I’m happy to say that Asher actually works better for me, but was also happy to work for Ian without any signs of stress anymore. Pretty much Ian spent most of the time trying get Asher to stop in some fashion. Asher was super polite when he entered the arena and offered a down automatically, as he knows that’s what we do – but after that he was like, “We DON’T lie down and we DON’T stop!” no matter what Ian tried. So that was amusing and very much reminded me of Navarre. I do think Asher is more likely to stop for me though, but I hadn’t asked him to stop around sheep yet as I wasn’t sure he was ready for that. Ian says that he is, no problem with enthusiasm, interest and taking pressure – Asher really likes his sheep now. So that’s our homework, Ian was just having Asher stop in a stand since he pretty much flatly refused to lie down and required a LOT of convincing to even stop in a stand. We shall see what he does for me – he wasn’t doing a very good job balancing and was splitting sheep and kind of being a dork for Ian. He was doing much better the last time I worked him, so I’ll be curious when I do if he remembers or needs to relearn again. Oh, and Asher has discovered the excitement of going to Scio now, he is now running at sheep behind fences and tried to refuse to go back into his crate afterwards, which he never does. It’s cute. You know, for now.

As for Navarre, he looked great! I’m hoping that bodes well for his third attempt at Pro-Novice this weekend. But he’s just a different dog these days, he’s actually listening and just seems so much less frantic and arguing. And he figured out to come through the sheep to shed. Apparently he’s been thinking about that since the clinic a couple weeks ago, now he thinks it’s fun. Not perfect, but he looked good – I hope he shows what he can do in the trial this weekend, and surely he won’t get bad sheep TWICE in a row …

And Haku and I worked on shedding, where I kept moving backwards and knew I shouldn’t move backwards and did it anyway. Haku did pretty good though, he seemed to remember his work from the clinic and we worked on shedding and holding, which he hasn’t done much of. He did great and had a wonderful time. It helps that we’ll never actually shed anything ‘for real’, so it’s easy to say how awesome he is. Love that boy so much.

We saw Dave as well this week, it had been quite a while, maybe a couple months? I also had Dave work Asher, and Asher was fine with that as well, but he definitely seems to tune them out more. Both Dave and Ian were unable to get him to stop and said we should work on it, but at his age he’s doing everything he should be at this point.  So we did head over to Heidi’s over the weekend to see what we could do in the world of stopping. I also brought a rake to try to keep him off the sheep a bit more and help with the whole stopping thing. I was super pleased that when the babydolls just shot off in three directions Asher didn’t just chase them willy nilly, but really went out and stopped them. Which didn’t help because he would go out and turn one, then leave that one to go out and stop another one, leaving them all scattered, but the idea was there. The babydolls are not good at flocking, and when one ran ALL the way down to the end of the field we had to go convince him to go back to his brothers, and he was trying to headbutt Asher, who was curious about that, but not intimidated – so that was good to see. Anyway, once we got them all together he is doing better at things, though he could care less about the rake, really no different reaction to that than the stick, he will, eventually, move away from it. I COULD stop him, though there was no lying down whatsoever and certainly not his idea. But, hey, we did our homework and Asher thought it was really fun – love that boy.

As for Navarre, he had a rough weekend. First Dave worked with him and it was super confusing. They were using some of Ian’s sheep, actually, including one big sheep that didn’t stay with the others, who Navarre was trying to cover while the other little shetlands ran away. Which was fine, but they ran into the wandering herd of goats, and then Dave is saying he wanted these sheep, but not the goats, but yes that sheep that keeps running off and using whistles that were opposite of Ian’s and, well, Navarre eventually just sat there and said, “I’m not moving, figure your shit out and then call me.” Poor guy, just kind of blew his mind, and I think because he’s actually TRYING these days. He wanted to be right, but he just didn’t know how.

Then the trial was huge shitshow where I went to hand Navarre off to Ian and Navarre jumps up and nails him right in the nuts – and Ian was down for like five minutes. Needless to say, things did not go well after that. So I feel terrible for Ian and I feel terrible for Navarre. Sigh. Just not a good weekend for Navarre (well, or for Ian). He did double his score from the last time, but someday maybe he will trial without crazy shit happening. But then, it is herding, that just seems to be the way of it.

Runner

Asher is a runner. I don’t think I’ve ever had a dog that seems to need so much just pure running for running’s sake. When he was younger I found it a bit perplexing, as I wasn’t sure what he was doing way off by himself. Now that he’s older, his running has become more focused and deliberate – he just loves to run. Which is funny because when he was a puppy I actually thought it was a bit odd that he didn’t do much running with the other dogs, and he still doesn’t really run after the other dogs so much as just runs around doing his own thing … just running. When we go hiking we often go on a trail that loops back very close to itself. Navarre would sometimes take extra ‘loops’ and run all the way around a loop we just went around. Asher takes it to whole new levels, when we’re hiking he will just start flat out running and just keep going and going and going and going. And his little eyelids get all red and his tongue gets long and he just … keeps going while the rest of us saunter along. The boy really likes to run. Haku and Bright think he’s nuts. Navarre understands and occasionally joins him – but Asher needs no one when he’s running, he just wants to go. I’m not sure what this is going to mean for the dog he’s going to grow up to be. He’s not a hyper dog at home, him and Navarre are infamous nappers and very chill in the house. He’s busy like a puppy, but not at all near the busiest puppy I’ve had around here – and has got nothing on Haku. But that running … it’s impressive. He has very thick thighs for a puppy, I must say.

I do love agility! After doing league courses for the last couple months it was SO nice get back to setting up my own courses for classes this week. And, yes, suddenly it was fun to play with my dogs again! Besides, we have a trial and I figured the dogs should actually, you know, practice or something. Bright and Navarre were extra excited to actually run some courses instead of just screwing around, and they did great. Worked on some obstacle discrimination, some layering, threadles, distance contacts – superstars. We shall see if we can hold it together for some pinwheels in the AKC trial this weekend. And, knock on wood, Navarre will finally finish that CDX … Well, assuming the weather cooperates so we can get there.

Winter has arrived and I love it, it’s so much easier to run in the brisk weather, for both me and all the dogs in my classes. So many spunky, happy dogs. I could do 45 degrees forever. But not so much with the wind, I really am not a fan of the wind. Well, unless I’m sitting inside with some tea in front of the fire. Unfortunately now the temps are going into the 20s, which is below my designated temperature range. I’m okay with 35, but lower than that my toes start to get cold. And when Heather’s toes get cold, they get very upset. Still, it’s been a such a dry winter so far, it’s weird.

Introduced Asher to the backsides of tunnels this week, which he was a fan of – and progressed a little on his tunnel threadle and I introduced the threadle cue. Though eventually I’ll have to decide if I want to do a separate threadle cue for jumps or not. He’s also mostly graduated to being able to station on the table while I work the other dogs. He’s getting better at bringing the toy ALL the way to my hand, but continues to frequently spit it out early and then act surprised when he doesn’t know where it went to. We’re supposed to be working on circle work, which I’ve never really seen the point of, so it’s not surprising that we’re not working on it. Also been working on left and right, which is also not something I’m really going to use as I don’t know my left and right without thinking about it for a good five seconds. Need to practice more multiwraps with toy and food distractions which is on our list.

We HAVE been working on a very not fun project, which is Asher walking nicely on leash. I rarely have him on leash, or, if I do, it’s usually just him. Put him with all the dogs on leash and he’s so obnoxious. Almost like someone never actually trained him how to behave on leash or something. A-hem. So we’ve been working on walking as a group OFF leash, which is way less frustrating – but it has not transferred to on leash work yet. However, he did have a moment this week when he got to heel offleash with all the rest of the dogs across the road from the car to our hiking trail, which was a first. He CAN do it, and he can do it better than Navarre – of whom it should be no surprise that he’s SUPER PUSHY. Funny how I never really noticed this stuff until herding. Yanking me around when on leash is just something that annoys me to no end, so I’m pretty sure Asher will catch on before I strangle him.

No herding this week, so Navarre can focus on his other hobbies. Will be interesting to see if Asher remembers his breakthrough when we return.

Our big obedience/agility trial went mostly well. Navarre is my ‘One Thing Wonder’ in both obedience and agility, he only managed to come away with one standard Q for the weekend. He still did a lot of nice stuff … with a few goofball parts too. I always seem to forget that he goes so much wider at trials. He had a teeter flyoff and missed a backside because of it in premier standard – but, to be fair, I didn’t ASK for a stop, so, hey. And in jumpers it was pretty tight but I felt quite confident I could squeeze in a blind. Navarre disagreed. It was such a simple course that always drives me nuts. Overall nice stuff, weaves, contacts, jumping – he did good. We had to bail on premier jumpers to do obedience though.

I was quite confident we were going to get that final Open leg in obedience. Which, naturally, we did not. SO FRUSTRATING. Both issues were with the command discrimination exercise, which is something I feel he knows REALLY WELL. First run he sat up when I told him to ‘place’ after his down – WTF? Maybe it SOUNDED like sit? I don’t know, that’s a new one – but an NQ. And the second attempt he he sat when I cued a down with both verbal and physical (again!). This is just the silliest thing for a HERDING DOG to do and I’m SO CLOSE to him. I wasn’t happy, I don’t mind screwing up things that I’m not sure we’ve trained – but we’ve trained that, in all sorts of environments – especially after he missed it the first time. Ah, obedience. Navarre doesn’t HATE it, but he just thinks it’s silly and does not give it his all, that’s for sure. Naturally, he did just fine other than those two little things. Oh well, maybe we’ll try again at some point, but it’s not a big priority for me. Or Navarre, apparently. Obedience is not his passion, and he has other things he enjoys a lot more. I just want to finish that damn CDX, because there is absolutely no reason that he shouldn’t be able to!

This was Bright’s preferred debut in agility. She starting running 16 in USDAA last year, so she’s seen it in competition. I think it’s a nice height for ‘middle aged’ girl, she’ll be 9 next year. One of my big motivations is she was doing some weird bar knocking at 20 at a trial a few months ago that was very unlike her. Well, she STILL did some weird bar knocking this weekend, though just in jumpers. Not sure what that was about (uh, maybe just general lack of jumping practice!), but she had a FABULOUS time – including getting to run with Heidi! She thought that was great – they were adorable together. I was off not qualifying in obedience, so they had a good time playing with the premier jumpers course.

As for Bright in agility, on the off chance AKC nationals is somewhere local in 2021, I thought we might try to qualify for it. At that point she’ll almost be 10, but I assume she’ll still be running. So we were trying to be a bit safer this weekend, including actually stopping on contacts. They really should, you know, announce where nationals is going to be now the qualifying period has started. Somehow I just assume it’s going to be somewhere I don’t want go. Which doesn’t take much. We shall see, but I should run her while she can. Going down to preferred is admitting that she’s getting older, unfortunately.

Though she still beat Navarre – and that’s WITH a stopped contact compared to his running. And she always FEELS slower – she’s very deceptive. It was a fun weekend, I do love agility.

I was so busy running back and forth Asher didn’t get to come in much, but when he did his heeling looked GREAT. Can’t get him to do that at home to save my life, but when we’re going through a crowd of people, lovely heel – go figure. He is growing up and no problems with the trial environment. Hard to believe that this time next year he could be competing!