Siblings!

Almost through the summer, ready to get back to things again – including continuing the search for a property. It will be a good move for all of us in the long run if we can find a place, and mortgage rates are downright ridiculous at the moment. Where we will end up, that’s a whole other question, but going back on the search and see what the universe has in store. Market is still crazy, but hey. Just seems appropriate to try to cap off 2020 with another major life change, if I can.

Worked on mostly some Justine stuff this week with Asher in agility, takes a while to get everything videoed! Asher is doing well with it all, introduced a threadle rear, did more threadle/bypass proofing on tunnels, wrap proofing, all good stuff that we obviously needed work on.

TRIED to do a bit of sequencing that involved the teeter, but suddenly he started stopping short – so got side tracked by that. Same with the weavepoles, he started popping at 10 in a sequence situation. All normal baby dog stuff, but we are firmly in ‘obstacle training mode’ at the moment, and the test of trying to put them in sequence showed our holes. Knock on wood, Asher’s footwork in the weaves is looking more consistent and comfortable, which is something that Navarre can still struggle with.

Navarre looked good with a little sequencing, love that boy. I was trying to think if there was ever a time when I had any particular issues with him, but nothing comes to mind. He was slow to mature, but we still had a lot of fun together, I never expected him to be anything but who he was, which was a big happy goober. He’s such a joy to live with, and a complete love – he would cuddle forever. He makes me so happy, he always has from day one just such positive energy.

It was a quiet weekend, got everyone adjusted between going down to see Patricia and going to see the chiropractor. Knock on wood, I think everyone is feeling better. Patricia was really happy with Navarre and doesn’t need to see him again. Asher is younger and more gumby, I think, so he was a much easier fix. Haku had more issues than I would like, but, yeah 11. But, yes, I do need to get back into stretching and massaging his feet and wrists, he has a lot of arthritis.

We did have Special Haku Day, which he seemed to enjoy. Just took him up for a little outing with a couple 6 month old border collie puppies. He thought that was great fun and enjoyed trading off sticks with them, especially as the girl reminded me a bit of Bright, it was like old times. I really miss that girl energy. There is a little BC girl in one of my classes that is super dramatic but also super wiggly and gives me squishy eyes just like Bright. Miss that girl, I really do. So glad I have my Haku, it helps. We continue to have our special activities and one-on-one time, he enjoys all of it, of course. It’s Haku’s turn now to see Maddy next week, want to keep him limber.

Actually PLANNED some things for later in the year. The virus stuff continues to go on, but I think it’s just going to be a part of life for a while. So a couple fun sheep things coming up in October, including a week out in Idaho complete with a baby trial for Asher. Which will probably be a total trainwreck, but hopefully a good learning experience for the both of us. No herding this week, bummed to miss the Ron clinic, but want to make sure the dogs stay sound so we sensibly rested after their adjustments. I do need to start working on attempting to copy Ron’s whistles, so we’ll see if we can get started on that this week.

I got to visit Asher’s new siblings – so chunky, so adorable! Hard to believe those little legs will eventually grow into those ridiculously long legs.

Confidence?

Gah, Asher really is so much fun – and I love this age and just having so much to work on and a dog that loves to work on it! Hot weather this week, and lots of it – so not much running with Asher, but lots of brain work. He really is such a fun problem solving dog, and he enjoys the challenge of discriminations without worry or frustration. Worked on lots of Justine challenges with proofing exercises, and he is doing really well. I hope it all sticks, he’s certainly doing well right now and picks up new concepts so quickly. The plan is for him to have a lot more trained cues than my other dogs … we’ll see if we can make that work.

We are continuing to work on contacts. He’s magically up to doing a full height teeter at the arena, which didn’t have much to do with me, he pretty much decided he was done with tables and breaking it down and just kept running over to offer it full height. Well okay then. Which was kind of the big revelation of the week, Asher enjoys doing the whole obstacle, especially with the dogwalk – he really dislikes doing the jump on/turn around/send down into position exercises. So we compromised, as long as he gives me good dogwalk/aframe hits, I don’t make him break it down. And he liked that plan and was trying really hard to be correct. As for the teeter, he keeps giving me a four-on end behavior, which is what I tried to start with originally and he just didn’t want to do at the time. So we’ve now switched to four-on, which I like – but we’ll see if he changes his mind again …

As for the dogwalk, happy to be back to full height with that – but I was less happy with a lot of his hits than I have been, because he was throwing down front feet instead of hitting solidly with his rear feet. He was determined not to miss a second time if he did have an issue, so he was a bit more clunky. I think he will smooth out once he gains more confidence, and hopefully figure out how to hit with the rear feet which is more comfortable (and easier to judge!). He did lose his footing on the dogwalk once, but hopped off gracefully and, knock on wood, it didn’t seem to affect him. Overall he’s much more confident with the height thing – he CAN now go up and turn around on a full height dogwalk, though he’s not a fan.

Aframe is back to full height as well and looks better than it did, but it took longer to get that back than the other two for whatever reason (I think its position in the arena was part of the issue, but good to work through that space restriction). Once he did he was doing some nice comfortable low hits. This was with very little speed, so we’ll see how it eventually holds up once we put it in a sequence situation. All of the contacts are nice and independent, which I think border collies are just naturally good at that sort of thing. So sending, running past, recalling, lateral distance – no problem. We have not started any turns on the contacts yet, just straight off exits. No problem driving ahead – Asher likes to go!

His contacts from this week, with Navarre thrown in for comparison:

We will eventually get back to taking his agility on the road, but I’m tentative about it now after that loss of confidence which I had never seen before. He definitely is not the same dog when we are both in a new place and without the other dogs – which is not unusual, but I don’t want him to develop any bad habits. We practice quite a bit without the other dogs in the arena and he’s just as confident and excited – however, when I bring him in to use as a demo dog for classes and there are people in the arena watching him he’s way more distracted and not as focused. You know, like he’s a puppy or something …

Trailblazer!

The dogs do have a new favorite toy at the arena, which I wouldn’t have thought they would be super into, but it continues to be a hit – the Chuck-it ‘Ultra Tug’ – which is just a chuck it ball with a short strap. I mean, they like balls, and they like tugs, but for some reason this combo just hits the sweet spot for all the dogs, more so than most other toys (Navarre would still prefer the frisbee!). It is nice for throwing, but it also good for calling them in to tug. It’s easy to tug with, easy to hold – though less easy to present without getting chomped on (a-hem, ASHER), but we now have four of them:

Let it also be said that the best Christmas present I’ve given the dogs in a long time is the Power Chewer Bark Box – omg, the toys are SO CUTE! This month was ‘shark month’ and the toys are durable, creative and fun every month. We have really gotten our money’s worth. And the treats we use for ‘bedtime cookies’ every night, which is a ritual the dogs have very much learned to enjoy. The ‘chews’ included are really stupid, but hey. I ordered a year subscription on a Black Friday sale last year, and then pre-paid which brought it down to about $20 a month, and I have found it very worth it and very fun. We enjoy our bark box every month, much more so than the ‘Bully Make’ box we tried a while back.

Navarre continues to be feeling well and is super excited to play. We haven’t been doing much agility other than playing around with low jumps, tunnels and contacts though. He’s SUPER excited to do them though! I’ll admit, I haven’t RUN a sequence in quite some time – it’s just too hot. So we toodle around. Sigh, I would like to get into doing more running and sequencing of challenging courses once the weather cools down, but this is not the year for it – and certainly not any sort of trial or seminar. I’ll have to actually bring my own motivation – maybe 2021 will be his year for agility? If there is any agility to be had …

Navarre has a lot of skills, but I’ll admit we haven’t really pulled them together as much as I’d like. He’s grown up now though, this WOULD have been a good year for agility if it wasn’t for broken dogs, viruses, shut downs … life gets in the way. I actually feel that he now prefers agility to herding, now that he feels like he has to actually listen in herding I don’t feel like he’s nearly as excited about it, I think he finds it more frustrating and enjoyable. While agility is always just fun. Knock on wood, he continues to seem like he’s improving physically, his mowhawk is getting flatter and flatter and he is super spunky. I hope he’s back to 100% soon!

I haven’t been tempted by the online agility, which initially sounded kind of fun, tried doing some of the USDAA@Home in classes – but the courses for the most part have TERRIBLE spacing and are just not very interesting or fun. And then when people are TRYING to qualify during classes they suddenly throw all criteria to the wind, which is not helpful. And of course I don’t care about titles, I just thought it might have some fun courses – but no. And UKI has their online thing, but I have zero interest in spending 5 years to go up through all their levels to get to interesting courses, so no point. Maybe there was some sort of online international pandemic cup somewhere? I feel like I saw something, but we are still working on just getting Navarre back to 100%. Still feels so weird to only have one agility dog …

Haku continues to worry me, and he continues to lose muscle mass. He is having a harder time jumping into the car recently, he misjudged it this week and fell. Breaks my heart. I have a ramp for him, but I didn’t think he was to that point yet. He might be. We continue to play with agility, but I really do think losing Bright was really hard on him in so many ways. I have not had good luck with longevity with my border collies, and it really worries me – 11 should not be old. I also heard that one of Bright’s siblings has a mass, I’m really hoping it’s something that can be fixed – much too young!

Very much enjoying watching the new Dove puppies – she’s such a good mom and puppies are SO CUTE. I’ll see them when they’re two weeks old, trying to keep my exposure at a minimum – but puppies still need visitors! Puppies make life better.

In herding we saw Dave this week, Navarre definitely seems to be feeling better – and therefore does not feel I need to be involved in the process again. Sigh. He got better, but he’s a tough nut. But a happy nut, I think the better he feels the more he can handle the pressure in herding again. These sheep were very much into running, and he struggles with not getting pulled into rushing to control them.

Asher got to go out to the big field there for the first time, I thought he might struggle with his outruns without fences, but he actually did very well. He surprised us both by being remarkably grown up, first by being very careful about negotiating the ditches when working the sheep, and second by not crossing over even when we really thought he would when I sent him to collect escaping sheep and the terrain forced him in, he stuck to the flank no matter what and caught those sheep. He did struggle more with driving in the new location, he was questioning a lot more and his distance was much closer than at Maddy’s. Still, he handled everything really well, because he’s awesome like that. He’s just so USEFUL, it still amazes me. I’m very happy with my puppy!

Apparently we may have an opportunity to go to a herding trial when we go out to Idaho this Fall … which I don’t think either dog would be remotely ready for, but hey. We shall see, haven’t quite set my schedule yet, because, well, it’s 2020 – don’t want to get too carried away …

Contacts Revisited

Back to the drawing board with all the contacts this week. And, yep, apparently when we were training the contacts he never actually noticed the height – as that was definitely the problem. He will do everything low, but up higher he wigs out. He can’t even turn around on the dogwalk now without worrying about falling! So we will go back to our confidence games, it’s just funny he was fine with it all until he wasn’t. I’m not worried about it, the behaviors are still there, just need to get him more confident with height. Not sure how long it will take, but we’re in no rush.

With the teeter we went back to just jumping into position on the end of the board, totally enthusiastic. So we moved to going from a table down into position, ridiculously enthusiastic – and independent, he was into position before I could even take a step towards the end of the board. So, huh. Came back out that afternoon to progress … suddenly he was nervous about it. Hm. We’ll just take it slow and not assume just because he looks really good for one session that he’s ready to progress. Slow and steady is the name of the game …

With the dogwalk we went back down to a lowered dogwalk and started with hoops just to make sure he had somewhere concrete to target, would help him be moderately successful and encourage him to move out and not think too much. Success for all of those, no problem with the hoops, very enthusiastic, but still somewhat uncertain with his footing sometimes. Took the hoops off, behavior looked mostly solid, no avoidance. Happy with that reintroduction. But take out the speed and excitement he’s definitely not confident with just getting up and turning around even on the lowered dogwalk, so we need to do a lot of that. Didn’t get to the aframe, but I assume it’s similar.

Worked on some independence with channel weaves, he does love his weave games! He can now stay in with opposite motion and me pushing past while he weaves. Entries remain really nice and independent from all angles and he was being less kamikaze going through the channels, which made me feel better – open channels are pretty low impact as long as the dog isn’t being reckless. He got to be demo dog during classes this week, he was not super great with that these days. I do think it’s showed with this latest training set-back that he needs more work without my dogs around. When they are there he gets really high and it masks some of his issues. More one on one time is needed.

Worked on our Justine homework, such good stuff there, love her progression of things. Introduced backsides, did some tunnel and jump proofing. He did great, he likes these games and he’s such a great little problem solver. We have a lot more proofing to do, but there is always something.

Navarre actually did some agility, helping someone get some Pairs Qs for the USDAA at Home program. He was SO HAPPY. And, knock on wood, no issues I could see. Let it be said, he gets to play doing the running dogwalk when I’m working Asher and his dogwalk is so amazing – Asher has a lot to live up to.

We had a double hike this week, accidentally. After we got finished with the first hike I couldn’t find my keys, so we went back out and hiked it again – still not finding any keys. Which makes sense, since they were in my pocket. Whoops. But we actually had a lovely time on both hikes, and it was a good time to tire the dogs out before the 100 degree weather. They very much enjoyed themselves, but Haku was VERY sore the next day – 12 miles is too much for him – he’s definitely looking older these days.

Summer is still very much here, but the days are getting shorter and the end is in sight – 3-4 more weeks before things get back to normal. By mid-September most of the really hot days are behind us. Then I have a herding October planned, so hopefully we’ll have some lovely weather for that (we usually do!).

I had hoped that maybe the virus stuff would calm down by this Fall, but I don’t see that happening. We’ll see what 2021 brings, but hopefully my puppy will get to have his agility debut at some point (not that he’ll be ready for a while!). Trials don’t sound at all fun at the moment, but unfortunately this is going to be around for the long haul, so we’ll see what the future brings.

We did practice a bit of herding this week, the sheep were being kind of stupid and running around for no reason despite the fact that it was super hot. I thought maybe it was Navarre’s fault, but they were doing it with Asher too – and Asher was being super polite. Navarre wasn’t as bad as he can be, but also not as good. He seemed to get hot really quickly, more so than Asher, funny enough. We attempted some penning again, with zero success with Navarre – much more success with Asher, who can actually kick out when asked. It’s always helpful to have a concrete training plan in mind, and I didn’t, and Navarre was just sort of being a pill.

Asher did better, but started off really pushy. Still having issues with him just walking up straight away from me – he can do it off a flank, but not just straight away, for some reason. Didn’t matter whether the sheep were running or not, he keeps looking back at me like he’s confused. But his flanks were nice and he can do those at a distance no problem. The sheep are always calmer with him. He also got to work the large group when we ended and I put all the sheep together to release to the upper pasture. He was a bit confused by that, and when they broke into two groups he needed to be encouraged to get ALL the sheep – so bigger groups would be a good practice for him. Mostly I think both dogs need specific useful tasks so they both understand why I want them to do things. Asher is better with that type of thing, but I think he’s had more opportunity to actual chores here and there, and Navarre has no idea. Agility is easier for all of us, I think, because I know exactly where I’m going and what I want it to look like.

Navarre’s back is definitely improving, saw Maddy again this week and his mowhawk looked noticeably flatter by that evening. Knock on wood, I think he’s improving, Maddy thinks so as well. He is enjoying the raw diet, well, the raw part, he’s kind of over the whole Honest Kitchen part of it. So Haku is getting ‘second dinner’ finishing up after him. I finally got an email from Darwin’s asking if I still wanted the food I ordered like a month ago. Good lord, that’s some terrible customer service. So I think I’m going to go another route and see if I can get some Columbia Naturals raw through Maddy. Navarre has just been having chicken backs and turkey necks with the honest kitchen while I was waiting for the Darwin’s to show up, but especially as he’s not eating as much of the honest kitchen anymore I want to make sure he’s getting a balanced diet.

Asher’s new siblings were born over the weekend – five new ones! No red ones though, Asher remains the weirdo. I hope they stay local, that would be really fun. I know at least one will stay local, as Heidi is keeping one – so we’ll get to play with a new sibling. It was really fun to watch the births, and really made me think of Bright and the one litter I ever raised with her. I am so thankful that Bright had such an easy whelping and that she was a very carefree mama. Her puppies never lacked, but she definitely never felt the need to hover – and those puppies were INDEPENDENT. She was still nursing until they left, she enjoyed them, but she was up and back at life within three days of giving birth. Definitely a working mom, she never lost her figure and saggy breasts were never an issue for her. God I miss her, we had such good times together.

I am continuing to look into adding a puppy to the household in the next year, though it won’t be an Asher sibling. I absolutely adore my Asher, but I can’t imagine having two of him, as well as the dogs really disliked Asher more than any other puppy we’ve ever had in the household, for whatever reason. I’d really like to have a smaller girl that I know can jump. It’s hard for the big boys to do agility, and I worry about them in the long run as well. My preference would be for a small, light boned, flexible girl from lines that are known for good jumping and longevity. Other than that, I really don’t know. I’m open to whatever personality feels right – I can see that being a more reserved dramatic dog like Bright, or a more hardcore bitch, as the boys need it. I think it’s just a case of I’ll know when I meet her, though I’m also open to letting Haku make the pick. I would really like him to at least feel okay with the new puppy most of all. I’m pretty sure Asher will like any type, and Navarre won’t like her until she’s older (but surely can’t hate her as much as he hated Asher) – but with Haku, she’s not going to be Bright, but I want him to feel comfortable with her. We’ll see, no one has been bred yet, possible litters are still up in the air – time will tell what puppies actually end up happening.

Summer. Hrrmph.

It’s been a rough week for some reason, maybe summer is getting me down.  I just hate sun, I hate heat, I hate not being able to to take the dogs with me, to go to the park after classes and for the dogs to look like they’re going to pass out after 2 minutes of running around. I hate bugs, I hate sunglasses, I hate sweating and attempting to run in the heat and feeling like I’m trapped in the house until it gets cooler. I’m just not a fan of summer, never have been. Though we had some nicer (cooler) days this week, so I can’t really complain too much – just been missing Bright and feeling kind of cranky and not myself. So, yeah, I blame summer.

We’re actually doing more agility training than I had expected to do, mostly just because it’s too damn hot so playing in the arena is how the dogs are getting most of their exercise during the week. Asher has a million and one things to work on, Haku is continuing to enjoy his agility revival and Navarre always loves to play – and they all love racing around the arena, of course.

Looked at some jumping exercises with Asher this week, basically some modified set point exercises with speed. Asher is so much better at actually thinking about his body these days! And I don’t see the weird jumping he can do other places at the arena, with these exercises he looked nice and smooth and extended. Then we are focusing on collection with the Justine homework, and trying to stay consistent with that. I still don’t think he’s going to be even a remotely tight turning dog though.

Introduced the 12 channel poles, good lord, he’s going to kill himself. No lack of enthusiasm there, that’s for sure – but I’m not sure how much of this is wise to do at this point, as he is so new to weaving I don’t want him to learn to ‘plow’ into the poles. We were just doing some tunnel to weave with no motion from me and he’s throwing himself through them. So, hm, maybe best to put the weaves up for the most part until he’s a little more physically mature and then work more closed poles before going to the channel poles. We shall see. I did do a few sets of straight poles later in the week after that and, wow, yeah, even that little bit of channel work definitely increased his speed – but also his rhythm and footwork. He likes to weave! We will continue to do a little here and there, but I want him to grow up more.

Also did a few aframes in sequence, very easy sequencing, but he looked good at the arena, no issues. Some day we’ll get back to the dogwalk, which will definitely need more work. Didn’t get to the teeter this week, and thankfully a down is no longer required on the table, he likes to stick his butt in the air like Navarre – which is cute. Looked at some backside tunnel commitment he hadn’t seen before, needs more work with my opposite motion.

Of course, then we went out to Rhoda’s for another agility playday on the weekend and I don’t know what weird dog showed up. He couldn’t do ANY of the contacts, was downright scared of the dogwalk and acted like he’d never seen an aframe in his life. Lots of avoidance, running around, jumping off of everything, I have no idea what’s up with that. I tried way more than I should have to get him working on anything, just because this is not an issue he’s had in training anything really. I have no idea why he was being so weird. His weavepoles looked good, we did a little bit of jump work and he was fine – but the contacts, total avoidance. Is he sore? Worried? Going through a phase? He did run down a short wobbly plank off the table happily, but that was about it. And he was just being weird and clingy in general. He played a little bit with the other dogs, but mostly he just wanted to be by me. If he was a girl, I’d blame hormones.

So that was unexpected, we’ll take a look at the contacts again in their foundation forms this week at the arena. And of course he’s going down to Patrice in the end of this month in case it’s something physical. Maybe a break would be a good idea, it was just so out of the blue I didn’t know what to make of it.

Did a little bit of agility with Navarre this week, which looked normal. The weird part was I tugged with Navarre for the first time in quite a while and his whole back MOVED. I was uncertain if this was a good or a bad thing, but the consensus seems to be a good thing. He saw Maddy this week and she said he felt significantly better all over. Still a tense spot on his mid back and one side of his groin. His pelvic floor was considerably less restricted, and she felt that was good to go for now. This was particularly good as I had stopped giving him the metacam, so this was his ‘true to life’ feel. His mowhawk is still there, but less and seems to be getting flatter. And, yes, his whole back now moves in a way it wasn’t before. All in all, definitely making progress and he continues to be amazingly well behaved for body work now! God knows how this all happened to begin with, but he’s still hiking and swimming, and that doesn’t seem to be affecting anything. Knock on wood, the urination issue hasn’t returned yet either. We go back down to see Patrice the end of the month, but I’m hopeful that we are getting to the end of all this.

Both dogs did well at herding practice this week, I was all prepared to be right on top of Navarre – but he wasn’t doing anything like he was the week before. He was listening and trying and only two small instances of thinking about eating poo, but he stopped before he did. So hopefully he’s feeling better which is helping him relax and listen more? We can only hope. I attempted a tiny bit of shedding, but I always forget that it was Haku I did all the shedding work with, Navarre doesn’t know how to do a damn thing about it. I will say, Asher is going to learn to shed when he’s young – teaching them to put sheep together for years and then tell them to split them up is not a good strategy.

Asher continues to do really well in herding, sometimes I have to stop myself from expecting too much from him. I mean, he JUST learned his inside flanks, of course he’s not going to be perfect! What he struggled with somewhat with the group we had today was moving them into a corner area where they didn’t want to be – he doesn’t have the confidence to get up there and stop a sheep that really attempts to make a break for it, especially when I’m across the arena. He always looks to me to make sure he’s allowed to stop them, and by that point he’s lost them. So, yes, still has some issues really staying connected to the sheep, he’s still entirely too ready to drop them and run to me for praise and admiration. That is definitely where he and Navarre differ! Super pleased with how well he took this driving thing and just ran with it, such a clever puppy. We may not be perfect, but we are finding our way together.

Bummed we will miss the Ron clinic this month because of going down to see Patricia again, but looking forward to the three day event we have planned in October (when it’s cool!). And hopefully we’ll be able to go out and see Bonnie again this Fall too, she can teach Asher the secrets of shedding! We should be able to start playing around in the big field at Maddy’s, so I think that will be a great opportunity for both dogs and get a chance to really focus on outruns and driving without as much fence interference.

The sad news of the week is that Haku’s sister Twiggy unexpectedly passed away, hemangiosarcoma. Which just breaks my heart for Kathy and makes me incredibly worried about losing Haku – I just can’t, that boy means to much to me. Hearing her lovely words about Twiggy, they were so alike. They actually met each other a few years ago when Kathy was up visiting, she was a wonderful girl.

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That litter might have been been, uh, quirky – but they are so special. Haku is getting lots of love these days, my favorite boy. So many wonderful dogs passing away recently, 2020 has been a hard year in so many ways.

 

Hello August

I finally had a chance to test out the remote door opener I had purchased through a kickstarter a while back (Wayzn – it’s way more expensive now!). In general the dogs are almost always with me, but there are times when I need to leave them at home for longer than a few hours. I had thought about a dog door, but, once again, I mostly never need it and with the indoor cats I can’t have a dog door available most of the time. So this seemed pretty clever, and combined with some security cameras (with microphones!), it was time to test it out when I took Navarre down to his appointment with Patricia in Eugene. And it was a big test, as this was also the first time I had left Asher loose at home for a longer period of time. (I put the cats in their room while I was gone.)

Everything turned out fine! It seemed kind of like some sort of weird doggie torture as Haku and Asher tried to figure out what the hell was going on though. Doors were opening and closing on their own, Heather’s voice was coming from the sky, being left alone when they normally never are … but they survived. I can’t say they went outside when I TOLD them to go outside through the camera, but everything seemed to work out. No accidents in the house, nothing destroyed, no panicked puppies. It’s a little weird, and maybe a dog door would have been simpler, but this was easy to install, easy to use and folds neatly away when I don’t need it (which is most of the time!). It’s nice to have an option to let the dogs in and out when I can’t be there.

As for Navarre, he shocked the hell out of me by being a perfect patient for Patrice. He had been doing much better for Maddy, but he doesn’t know Patrice and she worked on him for like an hour and a half. TOTAL ANGEL. I’m a bit suspicious because why he would go from being SO BAD to being so totally relaxed and cooperative lately, I have no idea. Feeling better maybe? Has learned that it helps so he should stop being a pill about it? A mystery.

As for her findings, she’s VERY big on diet – and did not like his diet and felt that was the cause of a lot of issues. She’s very anti-gluten of even the smallest amount, and doesn’t think dogs should be eating any grains, and never processed food. So I have promised her to change his diet. I’ve done raw before, the dogs do well on it, though I can’t say they do badly on the food we are feeding now – well, maybe I can’t say that now, but diet does make a huge difference in health, I know that for myself. I had bought that huge human body sized chest freezer to feed more raw for the dogs anyway, and the place in Aloha does pet food blends and turkey necks. I can make it happen, it’s just more work than having bags of kibble magically delivered and then poured into a bowl. Cost-wise, well, that’s another story. Thankfully Navarre does not need the amount of food he used to. Patricia was just like, “Feed him whatever you’re eating, you eat healthy, right?.” Which is a good wake up call that I should be eating better. A-hem – Quarantine eating is such a thing.

So I thawed out a big box of turkey necks in the bathtub, always fun. But Navarre was RAVENOUS for them. Asher, as usual, thinks I’m trying to kill him with raw – I kind of thought he’d get over that, but, no. And Haku eats anything. I’ll see about going to the butcher shop this week to get the ground blends, though the other dogs will be sticking to be supplemented with raw – at least for now. I have four 40lb bags of dog food in the garage, someone is going to eat it.

As for the rest of him, she thinks the mowhawk is inflammation from diet. Then the collision he had with Asher caused the rest of it. Spine sheared, going different directions, dented ribs, organs all squished. She thinks that caused the urinary issues. Now, she looked at the xrays and immediately said that little vertebrae at the base of his spine was not the issue and is not causing any problems. So that would be nice! Much adjusting, especially of his mid-back which is the only time he seemed at all uncomfortable.

I am hopeful that this helps, it will be interesting to see if Maddy feels a difference, she did think that his mowhawk looked different, and possibly less upright towards his rear. We do have a follow up appointment with Patrice in a month, and I’m bringing Asher for good measure – he didn’t get the brunt of the collision like Navarre, but it’s not going to hurt to have him looked at as well. Big goober. Of course, she’s not going to like his diet …

Navarre took it easy all week, which he was not really a fan of. He actually seemed to throw a tantrum when I left him outside while we went hiking. I left him with a big turkey neck but when I came back he had actually ripped apart one of the arborvitae in the yard and spread it around. He’s never done anything like that before. Poor guy!

We saw the chiropractor this weekend and she worked on his sacrum, he certainly is getting good at being worked on these days! We’ve now visited a variety of professionals, so hopefully that all helps. He’ll continue to get massage, chiropractic and osteopathic adjustments and we’ll try the diet change as well. He’s still on the anti-inflammatory daily, and I added a Boswellia and Curcumin supplement for both Navarre and Haku. If there is no improvement my next step would be sports rehab and see what their opinion is. I am optimistic that he will recover fully and we’ll never see the peeing issue again, sometimes weird things just happen – especially in 2020. And of course all the folks feel it’s better for him to stay intact, so he’s got reprieve on that one for a bit anyway …

As for Haku and Asher, they also saw the chiropractor … and they were both a mess. Sigh. But hopefully feeling better now. Asher was particularly sensitive in his mid-back and Haku was just all out everywhere. He came home and started being totally obnoxious with herding cats – snapping in their faces. So apparently HE’S feeling better, he rarely ever does that. We’ll see if they both are more active hiking, as Asher has been remarkably normal lately, now I wonder if he was just sore.

Asher continues his agility journey, it always amazes me how quickly the actual equipment can be trained. He now has half a teeter. In a true measure of ‘what they learn first they learn best’ he was SURE what I wanted was the only thing we really did with the teeter (and not that much of it) when he was younger – which is just bang and go. So stopping that frantic behavior … he had to actually have a few time outs because he just kept springboarding and then leaping back on and acting like a total nut. He’s always had a bit of an overarousal issue with the teeter even with OTHER dogs – that is a place where he has broken his table stay MANY times when he can’t handler the excitement.

So, yeah, it’s been an adventure this week. We worked on it a few times throughout the week and the performance has morphed as we went along. Once again, another one of my dogs that REALLY wants to do a 2o/2o instead of the 4-on on the teeter. Is it me? So we compromised, he can do a 2o/2o as long as he lies down with the majority of his body on the board. Because he needs that kind of control behavior right now. We’ll see what it morphs into as we go along, and I’m sure this will bite me in the butt when we add the stop option to his running dogwalk …. we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Also worked on the full height aframe, he’s pretty comfortable with that, still very thoughtful. He can have a really lovely aframe, but he’s still experimenting with striding and is sometimes throwing down a front foot, which is not a performance that he’s going to be able to maintain, so trying to really reward the deep rear foot hits with nice separation. So far I’m happy with it though, knock on wood. Doing some speed into and out of it and it’s holding up so far. Haven’t trained turns or anything yet.

Worked on our Justine homework and I think he’s started to get the lightbulb moment about trained tunnel threadles. Also doing my best to reward from hand, which he’s happy to do. He hit my knuckle so hard that skin just exploded, I have a huge wound now that I hope will heal cleanly. But my dog is coming into me! You can already see he’s going to be drifty though, even with this exercise the natural drift comes out.

He’s a good baby dog and we have lots to do, but it’s fun to get things started. Next week we’ll work on finishing up his teeter, do some Justine drills and we need to go back to working on his jumping. He always seems to act like he has no clue how to jump anything and jumps like a total weirdo outside of the arena, which is concerning.

We had a chance to go out to Rhoda’s for another group training opportunity. He’s been introduced to a lot more of the equipment now, so the goal was to see if he could transfer the performance to the different equipment. I was worried about putting him up and over the new aframe so tried to have him just do the down ramp, and than confused him – but once I asked for the whole thing it looked good. His weave poles were surprisingly good, we hadn’t looked at those at all since we trained them and did that one session with 12 weaves. These were accordion style, so not totally in line and I think that helped with his footwork. But his head was down and he was really trying. Not so much with collecting for the entries … but not unexpectedly. The dogwalk (full height) was pretty poor, he wasn’t giving me at all the behavior he does at the arena. We got a few nice hits mostly just looking at the downramp, but nothing at all consistent. Not a huge surprise, as, once again, he’s only had one session on a full height aframe even at the arena.

The big news is that he was so confident and happy with her teeter going down from a table that I went ahead and took the table out and he did his first full height teeters. He likes the teeter a lot for whatever reason! Full height looked good, so we’ll probably be able to work up to the full height at the arena quickly, I imagine. Didn’t look at jumping, which is definitely on the list. And he did well working with distractions, and I let him play with the other dogs afterwards and he was behaving himself. All the puppies he couldn’t play with when he was young because he was dick – he’s fine with them now, thankfully.

A great opportunity for him to have an outing by himself, to focus in distraction, to do agility in a new place with new equipment and interact appropriately with some dogs. The baby boy is definitely growing up.

As for herding, Navarre didn’t get to see Dave as he was resting, so Asher filled in with a longer lesson. We did stop early as he was getting a bit mentally tired, but it’s remarkable how much Asher has matured in being able to work for longer periods of time – and in the heat too! This was also right after our Friday morning hike too, so I wasn’t sure how he would be – but no problems, he’s getting an air of maturity around him now.

The good news, his new inside flanks seem to transfer to new environments and he was really nailing the verbals most of the time, but they definitely need some cleaning up. Our homework is to make sure he doesn’t choose when to stop a flank, and that he should think inside flanks mean to balance them to me unless I tell him otherwise. And they definitely lose their shape the farther away from he gets, so we need to work on that as well.

These were new sheep that wanted to run, so a good test for him to figure out what he needed to do to settle them and to stop the running when he needed to. It’s a skill he needs practice with, he often loses confidence when they run and drops contact, so we will keep working on teaching him to slow without turning on drives.

Ron was also down this week, so we got to show off our new skills we’ve been working on. Which, of course, Ron can never remember who Asher is or what he can do, so he didn’t notice – which I find amusing. Still, super pleased with Asher he’s really coming along and gaining confidence and skills. SO much easier than Navarre, and he is trying so hard to be right.

We worked on his turn at the post, which we have never really looked at officially – and getting him to slow down and not rush and bump the sheep. Then we were going to look at penning, but the sheep we brought out I had never worked before and they were total assholes and would turn and challenge the dog. So we took the opportunity to help Asher learn that he can turn sheep and to stand up to them. This is something Haku and Navarre are terrible with, because all my dogs are big softies and don’t like conflict. Asher is the same, so I really want him to know he has the power to turn the sheep and it’s okay to use it. It took quite a bit to convince him of this though, even with both Ron and I right there with him I had to really insist that he stand up and hold his ground. But once he finally did it and turned them he started getting the idea. So we just worked on walking up, holding his ground, turning sheep and then calling him off. He was having a great time by the end, it was a huge confidence booster for him. It certainly never occurs to him to bite or grip though, which I would like him to know is okay – but I don’t know if it would ever even occur to him to do that.

Our homework is working on him controlling sheep that are trying to run by moving out to the side to slow them, then tucking back in. And keep working on driving with more confidence at distance and getting nice flanks no matter the distance as well. We also have some homework for how he can overflank on his lift as well.

And look, some rare Asher herding video! Which is always like watching paint drying, but I’m very proud of my boy:

Then Navarre … well, I can say it’s not a good idea to work Asher first, which I don’t normally do. It’s really hard to go from a dog that is listening and trying really hard to … Navarre. The take away from Navarre, I have to be super consistent, insist on everything and back it up ALWAYS. You just can’t have grey area with him. And the whole taking 4-5 steps before doing what I ask is SO ANNOYING. He continues to feel sulky and belligerent instead of a teammate like Asher. But he does better when I do get right on top of him and make it happen, which seems contrary. So, yeah, I have to be in the right mindset when working Navarre that it’s not about actually doing anything so much as making it crystal clear what Navarre is supposed to be doing without accepting less. We will keep trying.