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!