I haven’t figured out how life is suppose to go without Bright, being home all the time with the quarantine has made it particularly hard, because everywhere you look, she should be there. The boys have started getting glum and grumpy with each other – maybe because of me, but I think without the balance of Bright they are just three obnoxious boys getting on each other’s nerves, and they don’t know who to look to create order. Bright was just a force in the household that we don’t know how to live without. Weirdly, I keep catching Fizban sleeping right where she slept every night, on the floor next to the bed – which is just odd, he’s never slept there before – and it’s not as if Bright even liked him, she wouldn’t let him snuggle and just basically never acknowledged the cats whatsoever.

I have mostly just been trying to stay busy, which ended up being relatively easy to do with a daily online class. Between the time that one ended and this new one has begun, it did all hit me again. I think with the world being crazy, my routine shot to heck, and never quite knowing what the future would bring, I still could kind of pretend that Bright would come back once things ‘settled down’. Intellectually I know that’s not true, but there was a feeling that if we just got through all of this that we’d be a family again. So it’s still unreal, still not processed, still in a denial. Just hurts, and all the rest of this craziness doesn’t help. It makes me feel impatient and dismissive of people’s very genuine and reasonable fears of the virus, because it doesn’t seem as important as … my dog. But she meant more to me than almost everyone, people come and go, but Bright was always there for me.

I have been trying to get the boys out as much as I can. We have been doing plenty of training thanks to the online classes, and they have all been doing remarkably well with that – even Haku has learned some new tricks. They continue to be grumpy with one another, so I don’t have them out together when I train much anymore and they seem more relaxed with that. Been doing lots of hiking and have learned that normal people’s dogs don’t run around like crazy the entire time they’re hiking. I guess I always thought everyone’s dogs did that. Asher especially is just a little crackhead in the forest, though he does finally settle down eventually. You know, after a couple hours of racing loops around everyone. Haku misses Bright, they had their little games for so long he doesn’t know what to do without her. Sometimes other dogs will steal the stick and he happily gets to chase them for a while, but it’s not like it was with Bright.

Seriously considering neutering Navarre, it’s possible that part of our issue is that I do now have two intact boys in the household, which I’ve never had before. Navarre has also been super obnoxious pushy pervy boy out hiking with other dogs, and even got into a tussle with Dio the other day. I was not happy. I’m not convinced the balls have anything to do with it, I think it’s very possible it’s just HIM. It may help though. I hate to do it though, and possibly change who he is and lose his lovely coat and muscling. Good thing vets are still closed, so it’s not a decision I need to make right away.

Been doing more herding, which is a benefit to the quarantine – it’s a good outdoor, socially distant activity to do – and we are taking advantage of the spring weather and having a place to practice. Helps that I can actually work BOTH my dogs. It still blows me away that Navarre and I can work together, and are actually PROGRESSING. Still amazes me every time he decides he will partner up and not just blow me off and do his own thing. And the more I trust him the more relaxed I get, which helps him relax and it’s a good cycle to get into. And we can do whistles! Kind of. I have the bastardized versions of Ian’s whistles that Navarre can actually kind of understand. So we can work on whistles, which is awesome. I’m going to give Asher different whistles, hopefully, ones that I think suit me a bit better – but cool that I can communicate with Navarre. Without yelling. Much. He’s still a pushy guy though.

Asher though, he’s SO GOOD. He has always seen this as a team activity, and he doesn’t have the extreme sheep obsession tunnel vision that Navarre does, he can actually think around them. I do feel like I have to be more careful not to turn Asher off of sheep though, which I think could happen. He continues to be WAY too easy to call off of sheep – and attempting to teach Asher to drive now that we’ve fixed his outrun, I can see why people like dogs that just PUSH. So, yes, he now loves his outruns, they’re nice and wide and gentle on the lift, and he actually FEELS his sheep, unlike uncle Navarre. I’m thankful he has the opportunity to work on a variety of sheep, he is doing really well at reading the sheep he’s working adjusting what he’s doing (unlike Navarre, who only has one ‘move’ with sheep, no matter what kind of sheep they are). Asher can now work all the sheep at Maddy’s, including the crazy running Katahdins. He’s just really fun and so eager to be correct, so far he’s super easy comparatively speaking.

Right now my biggest concern with Asher is his lack of heat tolerance, which I don’t remember from last summer – so I’m hoping he adjusts. He’s NOT good at pacing himself at all though, which I think is part of his problem. Being very careful, because I really am worried about him getting heat stroke. Even today, we went to the park and it was very cool, probably in the high 50s. We did some agility flatwork with a lot of breaks and then was working on his walk ups (which he’s REALLY questioning on sheep) with toys. So a very low impact behavior. He DOES do a victory lap once he is released to the toy, but nothing crazy – and he was trading off with Navarre. But he looked a little wobbly to me as we went back to the car, with his tongue down to his ankles, as usual – as it started RAINING, so it was getting COLDER. So we were out there for at least an hour screwing around, so I think the length of time we were playing was our problem there. Keeping cautious with that.

Still, boys are doing good and I’m trying to get back into some good habits and out of my slump as well. There is a lot of justification to just let things slide at the moment, and it’s been going on for too long. Very thankful for the online classes as they have kept me busy and got me up and working with the dogs every day. We all just really miss Bright, she was the dog made everyone and everything better by just being there. Love the boys, but they are not Bright. Sigh.