10 Months!

Good lord it seemed like Asher was 9 months forever. He is just all teenage goober, and that is not likely to pass any time soon. 10 months does at least sound a little more mature than 9, even if he really isn’t – and maybe someday he’ll grow up. Someday.

I do think I have one of ‘those dogs’, the overarousal dogs. Which I kind of thought he might grow out of and become more, well, sensible. I appreciate sensible in a dog. But after struggling working with him in agility this week, the magic solution was … use food instead of toys. He’s just not ready to work with toys at the moment. And he did great as soon as I switched to food. It is true that everything in agility is still something he’s learning, so I think food helps that state of mind. It was really interesting that the things that he ‘knew’ perfectly fine when only food was involved he looked completely baffled about when a toy was out. So, good to know. And when he was younger using food made him almost TOO thoughtful. That, uh, is no longer true.

So we did work up to doing some short happy baby sequences, and getting some extension to collection around tunnels and come to hand exercises. He can now do his position changes around equipment and some really ridiculous full body heeling and circle work as well. He’s trying, though he got kicked out multiple times for not being able to hold his table when it wasn’t his turn. Once again, he just loses his noggin.

So this is new for me, I’ve worked with other people’s overarousal dogs, but I’ve never actually had one. And, once again, maybe it’s something he’ll outgrow with maturity. But that doesn’t seem to be his personality in general, he’s just kind of a crazy red head – though there are certainly much nuttier dogs than him. Every dog is a different journey, so we’ll see where we end up. We’re just going to enjoy the ride, though I do think it’s going to be a while before he’s ever ready to compete.

I did realize there are all sorts of flatwork and baby dog skills that I’m teaching in classes that he really needs to learn. I don’t know why it never occurs to me to work on them with him. Learning how to safely negotiate a low dogwalk and working safe entrances is going to be a BIG one with him. I haven’t started any rear cross work, proofing his stopped contacts, actually training tunnel threadles, obstacle discrimination – all sorts of things he doesn’t need to grow up for. We will get to work. With food. Thoughtfully.

A little video of the big boy, he really is fun to work with. I do think he’s going to be a really fun agility partner:

Though you know who continues to get worse at any sort of self control as he ages, that would be Haku. OMG, he can’t wait his turn AT ALL anymore without biting feet, barking his head off and just being a total obnoxious dork. I feel bad, but I just go ahead and put him away before even attempting to work another dog these days (if I’m smart). To be fair, he doesn’t seem to mind (he gets special treats!). He is a troublemaker though. Old dogs, they are more work than puppies ….

Navarre is either feeling better or just enjoying getting to go back to agility again, he’s been super sweet and attentive at home – more so than normal. He’s always a cuddly guy, but he’s just been much more recently. We continue to use the Assisi loop on his lower back every night and have just been mostly taking it easy otherwise. The battle of the Assisi Loop is finally less now, which wasn’t really about the loop as it was ‘I need you to lay here for 15 minutes’. It’s funny how I never really noticed how opinionated Navarre could be until herding, but he really is dog that isn’t going to do something he doesn’t want to do without a big prolonged fight about it. He has finally decided that he can lay there with the loop, and he actually seems to be enjoying it now, after much fighting and sulking about it. I’m going to take that as a helpful sign that maybe someday we can get past the fighting in herding too.

We saw Maddy again and he was … better. This time he seemed more uncomfortable in the front than the rear, so he’s going back and forth, apparently. Maddy did feel that on his right front some of the muscles seemed flatter than on the left, so we have homework of triggering the muscles to see if that helps with any imbalance. We’ll be work balance work and off balancing to the right and basically getting back into our conditioning rotation. I don’t think he’s ‘broken’, but I do think he’s been sore. We’ll see Maddy in another couple weeks and see if our conditioning work has helped him out and how he’s feeling. Seems like he’s even a little sore he acts like the world’s biggest baby when getting his massage, so that’s … good? that he’s letting us know? Maybe?

Been doing some obedience training (ha!) to get ready for his show next weekend with Navarre – he looks good. I mean, not perfect, but he knows the behaviors and his heeling is better these days than it was. We shall see. Navarre also totally won the weavepole demo dog competition in class, Bright was terrible. She SO makes everything up all the time – it’s quite funny to think how much she’s changed since she was young and so serious and precise. Navarre had no problem showing off all the proofing skills the FIRST time. In agility we never argue and he always tries his best. Well, maybe not with collection. A-hem.

We had a really fun herding weekend! We went up to Fido’s with Heidi and had a two day family herding adventure with just Asher, Navarre and Dove. Those three are so cute together, though Asher ends up being a bit of third wheel – Dove and Navarre really have always been very good friends. Dove was actually in heat, but the boys really didn’t seem to care. Go tiny balls!

This ended up being a very worthwhile trip and great for both my boys. I wanted to get Asher on some appropriate baby dog sheep and have a chance to do some more frequent practice to actually make some productive progress. We also got to work with Ron Fischer, who I had heard good things about – and I enjoyed working with him.

So, yeah, no lack of forward in that family, Asher has Navarre’s issue of just wanting to be right up their butts the whole time. So we played around with some different exercises and trying to get him to recognize that being back farther would help him control the sheep – but he was like, “No, MUST. GET. CLOSER.” We tried big groups of sheep and different types of sheep, but in the end, we went ahead and introduced the down to create the distance we wanted. Asher is not a huge fan of the down, but he was willing to go along with it – mostly. Eventually. Once again, this is not a family of dogs that lies down the FIRST time. So basically once we introduced that it was using the down to reinforce that he shouldn’t be shoving sheep over me. It will be an ongoing process, that’s for sure.

Once Asher is actively working the sheep, he would give some nice flanks and with help could bring them appropriately. Heck, he even volunteered driving – that was a first! Ron said he looks like a natural driver, and that’s probably why he is NOT a natural fetcher. We really struggled to get any sort of semblance to the tiniest of outruns. I think this where just having that practice where he would scatter sheep at the beginning of every session we have done on sheep really bites us in the butt. He can go out and gather sheep gently (relatively speaking) once we start working, but any sort of send from a standstill – nope, straight at the sheep and scatter. So we could kind of fake it though, Asher continues to be a superstar at calling OFF the sheep, so if I call him off and we start to walk away if I send him back when he’s in motion, he will do a tiny outrun. But if I were stop him and then send him, no way. Definitely need work there, and I’m still not sure the best way to start him so he doesn’t keep practicing bad habits.

Asher did GREAT. He did very little exaggerated ‘overflanking’, though you could still see it. Mostly I was impressed with his focus and resiliency – traveling, working in all sorts of different arenas and pastures, different types of sheep, introducing the down and Ron trying to get him to respond as well, and he took it all like a rockstar. He was really trying the whole time, and enjoying himself without getting stressed or overwhelmed in the face of a lot of pressure from multiple sources. It was really helpful to have multiple sessions per day where he could build on the skills introduced before, and this was the first time he’s really done that much work so close together. I still never felt like I needed to yell, though I do feel okay with telling him to knock it off when he scatters sheep. There was some arguing over lying down, but it’s just waiting him out rather than fighting. I don’t know if he’ll ever be a ‘good’ herding dog, but I think we will enjoy the journey. So far, so good!

As for Navarre, the bar was set incredibly low – I set Ron’s expectations about what would be able to do to about nothing (which is true!). Navarre stepped up to the occasion though, he’s not magically a different dog, but we actually were able to work together without driving each other crazy (mostly). Basically what Ron felt we needed to do was win the battle of what of what he’s WORST with, and everything else should come together. And that would be lying down when I actually ask and not pushing sheep so hard. Easier said than done, but I do think it’s true that if we could fix that, the rest would be easy.

So we did lots of smaller exercises just focusing on getting the behavior I want to see. And it’s not like we haven’t tried before, but I think he is actually ready to listen now, so I didn’t feel like it was just a total argument the whole time. A LOT of lying down, or at least stopping, and trying to get him to understand if he doesn’t get up thoughtfully we’re just going to keep stopping until he does. But he didn’t seem to resent this exercise, but was actually responding and starting to get the point. Once again, that’s a first. So just baby steps in the right direction, and I’m cautiously optimistic.

It was funny when we had been working outruns and lying down at the top and slowing down on the fetch. After we had been doing this for a while Ron was curious what Navarre would do if I sent him and didn’t say ANYTHING to him. Navarre raced out and brought those sheep back at a breakneck speed, ran us over with them and then past us, then he flanked around to bring them back … and then just kept continually circling them to keep them with us until I finally interrupted him. It never occurs to him to actually think on his own that he should do anything gently, that’s for damn sure. So, yeah, lots of work to do, but he was listening better than he ever has. He’s not easy, but maybe we’ll be able to figure something out. Though, to be fair, he was MUCH better behaved on ‘easy’ sheep, when the sheep were more wild he definitely didn’t trust my judgement.

He did lots of nice things though, he has a lot of skills and DOES have a good feel for sheep and where he needs to be – it’s just seeing if we can get the brakes on him to actually be able to use them effectively. Hopefully we can start getting some practice time so I can set up some of the exercises we worked on. I’m ready to give Navarre another try, though maybe not with Ian’s sheep.

I liked Ron, he was nice to work with, pretty mellow, not much of a yeller but still very, uh, herding forceful. I thought he did a good job experimenting to see what was going to work best with the dog, rather than trying to fit the dog to one particular exercise. And he really tried to set the dogs up for success, which I appreciated. We are going to work with him again down here in March, so that should be fun. It would be nice to actually practice between now and then, but not sure that’s going to happen, unfortunately. But we also have a herding Spring Break vacation planned, so that should be fun too!

Meanwhile, back at home I think my puppy is learning to be a dramaqueen. I had seen glimpses of this, if he doesn’t want to do something he will cower and hide and rollover and look like the most pathetic, most abused looking dog you’ve ever seen. And, of course, my heart just breaks and I don’t make him do whatever it was that was SO distressing to him. However, it’s also pretty telling that as soon as he gets his way, suddenly he’s perfectly fine.

So this kind of thing is getting worse, and I’m feeling more certain that he’s just playing me and learning to use this pathetic act to his advantage. Now, I don’t argue that he probably is being honest in that he doesn’t like whatever he’s being dramatic about. Like at Fido’s, we were rinsing the dogs in the raised bath and he ran away and went belly up when it was his turn. So, yeah, he didn’t have to get rinsed as I didn’t want to give him a complex about being bathed (which he never has been). Then this week I don’t even remember what it was that I had asked him to do and got a little frustrated when he didn’t. Something like yanking me around on leash or not lying down or staying, I don’t even remember – but some basic behavior that he knows how to do and didn’t want to because he just wanted to go into the arena. He just went full blown dramaqueen and ran under the car and refused to come out. OMG, so much drama. So after much coaxing we made up and went into the arena and all was suddenly perfectly fine. And, yeah, he never did have to behave himself before going into the arena.

Not a fan of the drama behavior, which is also just jarring as it’s just not something he normally ever does, which is why when he HAS done it, I’ve tried to respect it and help him work through whatever was bothering him. This is what he did with brushing, where it took, what, 5 months to get him to learn that being brushed is fun. But I do wonder if I’m actually teaching him to do this kind of behavior more often. Not sure, but I’m much more aware of it as a potential issue now, and I will think carefully about how I respond to it in the future.

And then suddenly Asher just can’t wait his turn. We had made a lot of progress with waiting on the table when I’m working the other dogs, but now he regularly leaps off runs over and interrupts and then RUNS back to get on the table. He seems to think this still counts. And waiting for his turn when at the park for the toy? Nope, not any more, unless I have him on leash he’s going for that toy no matter what I say. Ah, teenagers.

Here is a video of Bright and Navarre practicing and being interrupted by Asher, and this was with him being taken out and brought back in – which used to make a big impression … not so much these days.

Notice how I just blatantly throw the toy again – sigh. Didn’t even occur to me that we’re supposed to be working on rewarding from hand.

We have done a little of slightly higher bars with his one jump work and HUGE improvement in Asher actually thinking about keeping the bar up and bending way more than he did before. Maybe he will actually be able to keep the bars up and collect after all! Time will tell … We also introduced rear crosses and have worked more on his tunnel threadle. Unfortunately the flatwork seminar we were supposed to go to this week was cancelled, really bummed, he hasn’t had a chance to work in new places with other dogs.

We did have a lovely hike with brother Ravi though, those two are such crazy nutballs. I do think they like each other a bit though, and so cute to see them together. I attempted to measure Navarre, Asher and Ravi against each other – no one cooperated. They are all similar in size though. I will attempt to measure Asher again at the trial this weekend, see if he really HAS gone over 22 inches …

Back to Agility

Well, you don’t just jump right back into agility with Asher, who couldn’t wrap wing with a low bar to save his life this week. OMG, he is just a basket of flailing teenage goober at the moment. Nor could he even hold a sit with a lead out, he’d just collapse into a down, and couldn’t do his position changes around equipment AT ALL and, well, was a giant puppy. So, yeah, we have our work cut out for us, but the good news is he did get marginally better with the wing wraps, and we now have something to work on with our position changes in different environments. That’s our agility homework at the moment and he’s been having fun using the manners minder to look at it at home. Dual purpose of looking at generalizing position changes and getting him ready to start looking at running contacts. I do kind of get the feeling like I should be working on more with him, but he just doesn’t feel ready.

What he COULD do is now bend to pressure with a stock stick, which is new. Anne got me a lovely fancy stock stick for Christmas and we’ve been using it to learn to bend to pressure around toys for both Navarre and Asher. They are coming along! Asher regularly just dives straight to the toy though, so still figuring it out. The hope is to work towards getting at least his herding vocabulary on him with toys, which I know doesn’t teach him anything about sheep, but helped Haku a lot in listening to what the flanking cues mean and helping with stops. Asher does think ‘there’ means ‘go get the toy’ but at least finally is figuring out ‘walk’ with the toy. He doesn’t do inside flanks yet, but we will work on it. He REALLY likes working on it with the border collies, I think it helps him understand what I want as he follows the other dogs, and when I finally release him to the toy he loves to grab the toy and run like a crazy dog, so it’s a really good reward for ‘listening’ to the all hard stuff. We’ll see if it makes any difference with his baby herding, you never know.

Meanwhile, I’m a glutton for punishment and entered Navarre in obedience again in a couple weeks as long as we’re going to an agility trial at the same venue. It’s been long enough since our last attempt that I’m all optimistic again. However, I do think I’m also more realistic now.  I definitely felt frustrated because, well, I really thought he could do it without a problem because he just coasted through his first 5 obedience attempts. I no longer have that expectation, and being frustrated is silly. So we have a day of agility with both Bright and Navarre and we’ll sneak in an Open run and see what happens as well. He’s never competed at this location, so all the more reason to have low expectations.

Then continuing with my low expectations, his winter of herding trialing with Ian is over and I’m glad Navarre had a chance to focus on learning about competition. I’m very happy with what he did and I think he enjoyed it. The plan was I wasn’t even going to attempt to work him again until that was over. So, now it’s over and it’s time to, once again, see if I can find a way to effectively work with Navarre. He most definitely will still be working with Ian and Dave, but it’s possible with his recent change of heart maybe he’ll be open to working with me now. Or maybe it will be worse. Who knows. But we have a herding weekend coming up where it’s just going to be Navarre and Asher and focusing on seeing what we can do. It will also hopefully be a fun roadtrip with the WonderGoobers again.

I did attempt to work Navarre with Dave this week. We never even made it to the first gate before I was ready to strangle him, so I passed him off. The good news is that he seemed much less angsty about working with Dave, though still confused. He was trying though and this was working in the smaller arena, where I think it’s harder for him. Dave does seem to think if I just commit to really inserting myself into the picture that I could run Navarre. Which doesn’t sound fun to ME, but, hey at least it’s a vote of confidence.

Navarre may also have looked better because I think he’s feeling better. I had been using the Assisi Loop on him while we are driving to and from the arena every day and I think that helped. We saw Maddy again and it seemed like he was much more comfortable with his shoulders (where I had been using the loop), but still uncomfortable with his lower back. Maddy pointed out he had a weird cowlick there, and it’s true I don’t recall that being there before. Navarre was SLIGHTLY less annoying for his massage this week, but that’s not saying much. We’ll see her again in a couple weeks, and work on using the Assisi loop on his back until then.

As for Asher, I went back in with the obnoxious leg leaning sheep at Dave’s – only they never so much as touched me this week. Dave seemed quite certain they were the same sheep, but the difference seems to be using the stock stick with Asher, since he wasn’t being quite as obnoxious to them they weren’t gloming on to me like they were before. So, yes, now that Asher knows what the stock stick is for, it seems to make a big difference! And we need it, Dave said Asher is now an ‘addict’ for sheep. Which is perhaps not the most positive description I would use to describe my puppy, but he’s definitely really into sheep these days, even not very exciting knee-knockers. Dave says he sees a lot of similarities with Asher and Navarre, so the goal is to start Asher off right so I don’t get into a constant fight with Asher.

I did think Asher was listening, but he has definitely gone up a level of intensity and I’m not super great at knowing how to handle his new pushy enthusiasm. I try not to ask for a lie down often, as he may not do it and I don’t want to stop and fight for that, so I can’t stop and it’s hard to think about my best move when Asher is just all over the place. What we were trying to do is change directions if I didn’t like what he was doing. So if he sliced a flank or tried to rush past me or was too close it’s change direction and see if we get something better. Then trying to tell him he’s a good boy and keep the sheep moving when he is correct, which I could actually do since I wasn’t being trapped by sheep this time. Once we got past the initial chaos, I was happy with a lot of what we did. And Asher still freakishly drops them immediately when I say we’re done, which continues to weird me out. He’s also happy to just lay there and stare at them while I talk to Dave without trying to sneak off. Yes, he’s pushy, but I don’t at all get the feeling that I do with Navarre on sheep. At least, not yet …

On Ian’s sheep, uh, yeah, that continues to just be total chaos. We worked with a larger group and one of Ian’s dogs helping and just couldn’t get Asher to slow down for anything – not me or Ian. Certainly no lack of push in Navarre’s relatives, which people continue to tell me is a desirable quality. Asher COULD cover the sheep once he stopped scattering them in all directions, but no concept of not running me over with them. Ian said we need to go work in a round pen and look at stopping. Heh. I do think it’s important to practice in much more controlled and helpful situations, and that’s my goal. If nothing else, I now have no worries that Asher isn’t going to like herding. And not much sign of that sensitive side all of the sudden …

Navarre was shedding! It seemed like he had the lightbulb moment of what shedding is all about and he was a definite fan. That there is a dog that was born to come right through the middle of sheep, and it shows. Once he knew that’s what he was supposed to do he was SO HAPPY. It was funny to see him go back to driving after that, you could almost see him rolling his eyes about keeping them together. I don’t know why suddenly he decided he could shed, but it was fun to see. I’m sure he’ll have a lot more work ahead of him, but a fun start. Still sucks on his comebye outruns and always lots of arguing about him slowing down and stopping, but him and Ian looked good today. With my new schedule he won’t get to do as much herding, so hopefully he doesn’t regress.

9 Months!

Asher continues to grow like crazy, he’s getting both crazy tall and substantial. No petite princesses around here! And he keeps getting more nutty as well, as well as somewhat naughty. He’s most definitely a teenager. Funny how quickly they go from tiny puppies to obnoxious adolescents. We’ve now had several incidents of where he really just doesn’t think he needs to go back in the car when there are sheep involved. He doesn’t seem to this otherwise, thankfully, but, yeah, we’ve had to have some discussions about that. Dorky puppy.

Sister Flea was in season and was very sensitive afterwards. We went hiking and Bright told her off for doing the obnoxious submissive thing (as she’s done before), and Flea was super dramatic and hiding behind us for most of the hike. Ah, girls. Though Asher is in a sensitive period as well, so I think it’s just that time.

Weather has been nasty, so not as much sheep time for us as I had intended this month, but I think that’s okay. Asher is a much more sensitive dog that really wants to be right and I have been very cautious as he will disconnect from the sheep with even a little confusion, so it’s more about just maintaining his enthusiasm and basic feel.

We haven’t had any chance to practice on our own, and that is when I felt like we mad the most progress. Heidi’s babydoll sheep were a good level for him, not too heavy, not too light, mostly sticks with the handler without trying to kill you. At Dave’s he’s been having us work with the REALLY heavy knee knocker lean on you sheep, so I can’t even MOVE with them. And then working with Ian’s sheep is always a bit of shitshow, sheep everywhere and not enough control. I think that’s just over his skill level at this point. I still have done a little with him because, if nothing else, it’s VERY exciting and I think he’s at the age that there is nothing wrong with letting him be a bit wild without getting too uptight about it. Now, if he were Navarre, it would be different, but Asher is a softy.

So, yeah, we really haven’t made any progress at all since we stopped practicing on our own, and have probably gotten worse. But I have no expectations at 9 months, so it’s all good. Asher continues to think it’s a lot of fun and this week I even had both Ian and Dave work with him. It made me feel better to see that he would do the same stuff with him as he does with me, only more so – he’s naughty with them! With Dave he was biting butts! Not in any sort of serious way, but definitely takes the boys way less seriously than me. Which is novel. The goal is for me to train and work him, but hopefully he’ll also have an option of working for other people too.

Fingers crossed we may have some appropriate sheep to practice on in the future, that’s what we really need. And for Asher to grow up. Man, this teenage purgatory always seems like it lasts FOREVER.

It wasn’t just a fluke though, Navarre has entered a new phase in herding, where he’s trying TOO hard to be correct now. It’s just one thing or another with him. There have been some signs lately, including not moving sheep, which was just odd and unusual. But I think everything is going back to him now just wanting to be correct, and getting frozen by it. He’s now getting stressed and worried when anyone BUT Ian runs him. He’s decided that’s how it SHOULD be done, and when that doesn’t happen he now gets stressed, disconnects and eats shit. Go figure! However, I’m hopeful it’s a GOOD thing, a step that he does actually now think about the handler and wanting to be correct, which he most certainly didn’t before. Trying to get him out to Dave’s more, who we didn’t see much the last half of last year, and I think getting him comfortable working with Dave again is a good thing. But, yeah, now we need to go get Navarre to think LESS. It’s a moving target with him.

Ian and Navarre did well at their last winter trial though, 2nd place in Pro-Novice with the highest score they’ve gotten so far (and actually ended up 2nd for the whole winter trial series, which is pretty cool). I’m really proud how far Navarre has come in herding, which has absolutely nothing to do with me, but I would have never guessed he could do much of anything. Shows what I know. Navarre was actually being surprisingly thoughtful, and did not just race through the course. He was trying.

Another issue that may or may not be related to his new found sensitivity in herding is that he does have something physical going on. And, good lord, is he terrible about being worked on. Navarre has OPINIONS about things, that’s for sure. I’m not entirely sure what happened with him, but this does sort of coincide with him and Asher becoming best pals. It’s something that I think has been going on since at least the beginning of the year. And not helped when Asher t-boned Navarre (which was actually totally Navarre’s fault, as it was NOT his turn and he decided to go ahead and try to get Asher’s toy anyway …). Maddy feels it’s his front and back, and he just seems stiff and not moving as fluidly as he was. We have seen Maddy twice, and we’ll see her again next week. He’s never had any issues, so this has been puzzling. I do feel slightly relieved that I know it wasn’t agility, since we haven’t been doing any! Herding seems to have it’s own set of physical stress, but I worry less with Navarre who is more thoughtful when he’s running around on uneven terrain, unlike Haku who just doesn’t pay attention. So we’ll see how serious of an issue this is, I hope nothing big.

As for agility, I feel re-energized! We first had the ISC event judged by Tamas Traj earlier in the month, which was a lot of fun but also super frustrating because I just could not get around the course with either dog for ANY run. Navarre struggled with the 24 inch jumps, but did manage to weave just fine. However, I did have Maddy take a look at him and he was really tight all throughout one side and neck, which I think was the cause of his weird weave issues at the last trial. So after finding that we did scratch the rest of the trial. Neither dog could do a threadle consistently, and they both would totally blow off the first one, but after fixing it would do all the rest just fine. Which wasn’t helpful. We just were not at all together, I was feeling kind of puny and those kind of courses require a LOT of running! So while not our best showing, it was still really fun.

So actually working with Tamas actually turned out to be really motivating. Such hard stuff! I haven’t actually worked that hard on agility in a long, long time. It was also an interesting setup for a seminar. While he did talk about how he trains things and basic concepts on how he would handle different challenges, for the most part it was a 60 obstacle course and every team would spend their turn working on whatever part of that course they were ready for.

I only worked Navarre, as I really do want to finally get our agility groove on this year. He’s grown up enough, it’s time. We had a lot to work on with this kind of course! Really fun, really challenging and we tried some new concepts. We had played around with dog side arm threadles before – but it really came back to does the dog know their verbal threadle, and Navarre actually MOSTLY does. Once we got back into the practice of using it. And there were a LOT of threadles of which there was no time to use an offarm, you had to be moving forward and trusting the dog, and he could do that. You know, somewhat. We weren’t at all perfect, we have a lot of things to work on (tunnel jump discriminations where I can’t be there definitely comes to mind!), but it was so much fun to do something really challenging. That just hasn’t happened in agility in quite some time. Technically we got through all 60 obstacles over the two days, but there were a couple areas we never actually got through like we should have.

I liked Tamas, he kind of reminded me of Ian, there was a lot of shouting, “NO! Where was your shoulder? What was that? Do what I told you to do!” and such not. Which I find amusing and helpful, though I don’t know if everyone did. Sometimes it took a bit for me to figure out exactly what he was saying, but for the most part he did a very good job of explaining what he was looking for and why. If he comes back next year, I’d try to sign up again. It ended up being both worth the money and inspiring enough that I cancelled my local trialing plans to put the money into another european seminar presenter next month – half a day for Navarre, half a day for Asher. It really was very fun – though cold!

It gave me a lot to think about in terms of what I want to train with Asher. When I’m just thinking about American courses there is just not a lot of reason to train many skills. But with these courses … oh yes, lot of verbals and independence. I think Asher will enjoy doing the training, so I do need to decide exactly how many fricken verbals I want to end up with.

Oh, and, here’s a shocker, I need to stop throwing the toy as a reward for Navarre and end sequences with a hand touch. Now, we DID work on that a while back quite consistently, and it didn’t seem to make much of a difference, but that doesn’t mean I should stop. He really needs to come into me. So, yeah, no more throwing toys and lots of rewarding by ending sequences with a hand touch. With Asher too!

We did have a couple visitors this month, both Kip and Jasper (16 week old pyrshep puppy) came to stay with us. I was SO super proud of Asher – guess who CAN be gentle and appropriate when he wants to be? Just goes to show that even if your puppy is a total dick and doesn’t get to play with any other dogs when he’s little, he can still grow up to have great social cues. Asher is just so big and bumbling and powerful, it was so cute see him being so careful, especially with the puppy. Navarre also was super excited about the visitors, but they were not excited about him. While Asher is a fun playmate they really enjoyed, Navarre was a pervy uncle they didn’t thought was obnoxious and pushy. And Bright and Navarre basically ignored them, but weren’t at all upset about them being here. It a good experience for everyone, I think.

Asher went to the vet! First time since his puppy vaccinations. I needed to get him microchipped and his rabies vaccination, and I’m always trying to find a good local vet, so we checked out a new place that was in this old converted house. Knock on wood, I really liked this place! I liked the vet a lot and since it didn’t LOOK like a vet, Bright was suspicious, but actually pretty comfortable. Asher now weighs a trim 40 lbs, which I’m okay with. It FEELS like he’s 50lbs when he hits me, he’s one substantial boy. He’ll be at least 45 as an adult, if not more. He’ll be beefier than Navarre. Though I’m really hoping not taller! He did great at the vet, no issues at all. Bright I brought in just because, who now weighs 35 pounds – good lord! Bright has ALWAYS stayed at 32 her whole adult life. She’s on a diet, it’s never good for her to be that close in weight to Asher of all dogs. I did want to get her teeth checked as she has been not much into chewing these days, but her teeth look great, so there you go.

And yet again, no one mentions Asher’s tiny balls. No one ever mentioned Navarre’s either. Though, quite honestly, I don’t remember Navarre going to the vet as an adult. He had his rabies about 8 months and I don’t think he’s been in since. Which makes me feel like a horrible pet owner, but he’s been healthy, I haven’t any need to bring him in. I’m always amazed and what they DON’T notice on these so-called general exams. Like Asher, no one ever mentioned his umbilical hernia, not once (closed now).

There was one thing concerning about Asher though, he does have a ridiculously low heart rate – athletic heart. However, he had a murmur which the vet thinks is an athletic resting heart murmur, and if he actually got his heart rate up it wouldn’t be present. So that’s something I actually want to verify is the actual issue.

And he’s finally microchipped, which has been on the list forever, especially as he doesn’t wear a collar anymore. And he got a fancy new one that takes his temperature, so no more rectal thermometers! At least when he’s at a vet that can read those, anyway. Which led me down a whole rabbit hole of making sure everyone’s microchips were up to date, which I swear I did when I moved here. They most definitely were NOT, nor can I even FIND Haku’s. I’m assuming it probably AVID since it was 10 years ago? I’m pretty darn certain he has one, so I have to track that down and update it. I don’t have Bright’s connected to my name, but it should have Karen’s info, which hasn’t changed. And apparently I never even microchipped Marvin, at least I can’t find any record of it. He had a lot of weird stuff happen when he was young. So, yeah, good things to check …

As for training this month, didn’t do much. Mostly worked a little heeling with Asher, and he’s finally getting the idea and we recently introduced autosit at the halt. We signed up for a running contact flatwork online class, both to check it out and it sounded like something Asher could actually DO at this age, so we’ll see how that goes. But I start back teaching this week, so we’ll play around before classes again to test things out, which is a really good way to train your dog, just a few minutes at a time …