Welcome Home, Bryn

After having Fauna here, it definitely reminded me what the MOST important thing is when bringing home a new puppy – that they get along well in the household. With my potential puppy plans having ALL fizzled out, I was back to square one. Which is fine, we’re not in any particular rush, and SO MANY BOY PUPPIES, it’s crazy how few girls were even being born. Bonnie was on the job keeping her eyes out for any herding puppies in Idaho that might work for me. And it just so happens that her neighbor Robin Brown had gotten a couple puppies from a guy in Idaho. She’d picked them up a few weeks ago, they were now 12 weeks old, a boy and a girl. Hm, a girl? An actual girl available?

So Bonnie went over to meet her, and she was very super friendly, confident and really happy and sweet. She did not get at all upset with her giant brother that kept running her over, just popped right back up with no ill will. Just a very happy, wiggly, fun, confident puppy. And a CUTE little brindle tri – the only girl in the litter. She hadn’t had any training or anything, so Bonnie introduced her to treats (ha!) and taught her to offer a sit in no time.

So … I liked her, she had a really wonderful energy and sweet thoughtfulness that spoke to me. But I didn’t know anything about her, vaguely related to Rooster on one side of the pedigree, complete unknown on the other. Idaho cattledog lines, which in general I’m not a huge fan of cattle dogs, but apparently the pups were out of lines Robin knows, and she doesn’t like the real gritty, pushy cattle dogs – but prefers a more thoughtful dog that can take care of business if need be, but is level headed and not causing trouble. She felt this girl would be a medium eye dog, bold and forward, but not oblivious and hard headed. I saw some relatives, who were some nice workers that moved fairly well. You know, for dogs with tiny legs.

Idaho is land of the low rider border collie, and I think this puppy will be a fairly stocky low rider as well. But she passed Carol’s conformation test, so she seems to have some nice shoulders and an okay rear, from what she could see. Some of the relatives are fairly stylish in working, and Robin said they were ‘cat-like’ in movement, which I’m taking as a good thing. I don’t have big expectations puppy will be the best agility dog, but I’m optimistic she’ll be a good herding dog. As long as she has fun in agility, I’m good. Finding a good herding dog is harder, and that is always a crap shoot. This is a BIG crapshoot, as I really don’t know anything about her immediate relatives. So, yeah – health concerns, who knows? Temperaments, who knows? I can say her and her brother seem like super nice puppies.

So first I wasn’t going to do it, too many unknowns – but then again, she really seems like a puppy that would be sweet to Asher (without getting overwhelmed by him), and I just … liked her. I liked her thoughtful energy and her people focus, and she just felt ‘right’. And who knows what the future holds, all litters are a crapshoot, really. If I liked her, why not? One benefit of random Idaho dog I know nothing about, I don’t have any expectations of her to be anything, and that’s a nice place to start. Though she’s not a tiny puppy, so I feel like I can say I know more about who she actually is as opposed to an 8 week old.

So, once again, Bonnie to the rescue – she agreed to keep the puppy until I moved, which is no small task – puppies are a lot of work! Luckily she’s not a tiny baby puppy, but, yeah, definitely owe Bonnie big time. Thankfully Bryn was not much of a troublemaker, got along with her dogs, slept through the night in a crate and is sweet, but independent enough that she’s not needy. She was slow to warm up to playing with Schmeckit (all the other dogs had no interest in her), but after a few days they were playing great together.

She passed the test at Bonnie’s so off she came to Oregon … where I then passed her off to Carol! This puppy gets AROUND. Bryn was so shell shocked and car sick when I got her from Bonnie, but we gave her some Bonine for the car sickness and when we got to Oregon she came out sassy as hell and giving Carol’s dogs the business. Ha, no shy wilting flower! So she stayed with Carol until I sent off Fauna back down to California. Carol said she was BUSY, and it was funny to see how she didn’t really go for the dog toys to play with, but metal tins and hair brushes. She didn’t grow up with toys so she made up her own. She went to Frenchman’s with Carol and Lisa’s dogs (and told them what for too!) and just made herself at home wherever she went.

Finally, I got to pick up my puppy, and I was not sure at all who she was. She seemed to be a different dog at every house! But we met at Home Depot to pick up some things, and little rural Idaho dog, who I am pretty damn sure never saw much of anything as a puppy, walked in with no worries whatsoever. Giant trucks, carts, new people, forklifts, saws, you name and she was just solid. So score one for genetics, because that was not the result of socialization as a puppy, that’s for sure.

So the big test, what would my dogs think – and how would she do with the cats? She already showed a very strong herding drive towards Carol’s dogs, I wasn’t sure what she would think of the cats. She didn’t want to chase them, and for the most part ignores them – but will occasionally start contemplate herding them. I’m really trying to put a stop to that right away. The same with biting other dogs, that’s the cattledog in her, we have a No Biting rule when she gets overstimulated or there is too much motion.

As for the boys, she played it cool that first day, and that was all it took – the boys ADORE her. Navarre can play with her really pushy and kind of rough and she has no issues with that. She doesn’t beat up Asher (yet, anyway), and she even charmed Haku, as much is able. The boys really like her, she’s okay with the cats, she is approved.

Border collies from cattle lines tend to be more on the homely side, which is why I find it so funny that Bryn is SO RIDICULOUSLY CUTE. I assume that will fade at some point, and maybe she’ll grow up homely, but she’s ever so adorable still. Her tiny nose, her dark eyes, her expressive ears, her tiny legs – she just makes you want to squish her. And she LOVES being squished! When she comes in to be pet she just melts into you, no frantic wiggling, she just leans into the loving and is the SWEETEST. Absolute sweetest! She’s sweet, but not needy, she’s a very confident dog and pretty independent. She wants to connect with you though, the eye contact is just … gah, did I mention the cuteness?

Training-wise, it’s interesting starting with an older puppy – she does pick things up quicker, but she doesn’t have the skillset I’m used to having with a dog this age. So we’re still working on just getting her to offer behavior and learn to problem solve. She’s one of Nature’s Stationers. Her natural response is to just … sit there. So getting her be less passive has been the goal. It only took one reward for sitting on a station for her to just park herself up there though. She can be animated, but it’s not her natural response, she’s been more quiet her training process. Not the sort of dog that is throwing behaviors left and right and swearing at you, like Fauna was. Much more thoughtful – and polite.

So we haven’t done much, as moving is just … so much. We are moved in, but still in limbo while we get the place painted before I really start unpacking. Bryn has been introduced to hand touches, left/right spins, lie down, wave with both paws (her favorite!), stationing, bouncing up and down, relax and handling skills. I’m still waiting for it to feel like she really understands how to use her behavior to communicate, so waiting to introduce new concepts.

We’ve been working on play skills, which have been slowly coming along. She was pretty tentative in the beginning, assuming that any tugging meant that I wanted the toy and would rather cuddle than play. But with practice and encouragement she is getting to be a fiercer tugger, and I can pet her a little while she tugs now without her immediately outing the toy. Switching toys is tough as she really wants to hoard all the toys, so she runs off with her prizes. Getting her to then come back and play with the toy I have is tricky, my imaginary dog I’m playing with has to be having a REALLY good time! Like many dogs before her, Bryn’s absolute favorites are squeaky things, and one particular squeaky ball she likes the MOST. So once I was getting her trading easily between two squeaky toys, she finally made the connection that bringing the toy back to me was more fun than playing on her own – and she retrieves! She’ll be a normal toy obsessed border collie in no time, I think.

Bryn is definitely a slave to motion, and she really likes to herd the other dogs. The problem being, they just leave her in the DUST. Those tiny legs of her just can’t compete with Asher and Navarre’s HUGE strides, no matter how much she hustles. So there is lots of Bryn trying her heart out to catch up … and then stopping sadly to watch them run away. Maybe someday, girlie. Or maybe not, her legs are REALLY short! Hopefully we can get herding things we want to, and not dogs and cats. She’s already been in with the sheep at Bonnie’s (when you’re tiny, sheep fences are nothing!) and showed some nice moves. I’m very optimistic about her as a herding dog, assuming her little legs can get her where she needs to go!

It was pretty hilarious, we went hiking with a borderpap that was almost the exact same age and she was about the same height – though Bryn is WAY heavier. She is getting bigger and at 16 weeks she’s 14 lbs. Which is … small? Normal? Having these giant boys I’ve lost all perspective. I really want her to stay small! She’ll probably just end up being a REALLY stocky 20 inch dog. She’s pretty perfect though, maybe she’ll humor me and stay under 18 inches and get me a 16 inch jumper. Her legs are so short, it could happen!

I did send off her genetic panel, it’s the best I can do to see if there is any ridiculously stupid, completely preventable disease she might have. She’s just kind of perfect I keep assuming there must be something up with her. Well, to be fair, there is housebreaking, which she just has ZERO clue about. Getting outdoor puppy is much more challenging in the housebreaking department, and she’s much more spry than an 8 week old puppy, harder to keep tabs on her. And she has opinions, she’s all sweet and into you … until she doesn’t want to do something, then she is really good at saying, “Screw you, I’m outta here …”

So welcome Bryn! Also known as ‘Muffintop’, Munchkin, Shorty and Bryn the Brindle of the House of Many Toes (she has rear dewclaws!) – the last is from Bonnie.

Asher’s First Agility Trial!

Asher had his agility debut! And my first trial in a year, so my first look at the infamous ‘COVID trial’. I do think that it’s very easy with these trials not to come into close contact with anyone, as long as you are being cautious it is absolutely easy to stay away from everyone and be in the arena minimally. That said, there was a LOT more hanging out than I would have expected! Which, I understand too, people are happy to see their friends and get to catch up. At least everyone was wearing masks. I did actually find it kind of ironic that I ended up having to get closer to someone than I have all year when they did the temperature check and put on my wristband. Go figure. That did not seem well thought out to me. And I liked the agility gating app, so you could always see where they were. I liked the uncongested aisleway in the middle, which had become clogged with people putting their chairs there in recent years, which seems silly considering there are bleachers RIGHT THERE. So COVID trial, I think, overall, a relatively low risk activity to take part in, assuming you don’t end up clumping up with everyone else there to catch up!

Anyway, so that was a big hurdle, but my baby trialed! We did two weekends in a row, but just one day each trial, and just two runs each day – just a FEO T2B run and a Novice JWW. We passed the first major hurdle, Asher did NOT measure over 22 inches thankfully! He seemed fine in the environment too, and in fact was being pretty calm until I got the tug toy to bring into the ring with us for his first run. Then, ZING!, super dialated pupils! Yeah, he just crashed through the first few jumps, and as that’s not cool with me, I put them up, and tried again, and he knocked it again, so I put them up, and tried it again – and he finally got through the first four obstacles! Then into the weavepoles, where he pulled out to stare at me … and, time. Not really a run, his little brain had just exploded – but he was certainly not stressed, not worried about the people or judge, focused and happy to be there. I’ll take it.

Of course, on the other side of the spectrum, our first ever jumpers run started off MUCH smoother – no toy in my hand, his head was more level, he was doing great, no knocked bars, and about halfway through the course … he stops dead, barks and and runs away … from the timer. Not the sound of the timer, the movement of the numbers on the timers. Like, WHAT? And I could not convinced him to go anywhere near the timer, so we had to skip the weaves and the finished awkwardly. So, huh, what on earth was THAT about?? I have never in my life seen a dog afraid of the TIMER NUMBERS. And Asher is not the sort of dog that has issues like that. I mean, he was weird about the tv when he was a puppy, which I also thought was strange, but that was a puppy phase. Anyway, he did look great until that point, and he still finished happy, but that was bizarre.

Luckily, the next weekend they used DIFFERENT timers, which are not apparently so scary, so not an issue at trial #2. We were both a little more comfortable with the routine and he had some great stuff in his FEO T2B run, kept all his bars up, nice aframe, self released on his teeter (but confident!) got his weaves the first time and stayed in, and did his go-on (which he did not the week before!). He did try to take me out on a recall to heel move in the opening, which was interesting, but overall I liked his mental state a lot better, especially with much stopping to tug. His second jumpers run he went immediately off course at #2 coming out of a tunnel, and almost did it again when I swung him around and tried it a second time. But lots of good stuff, missed his weave entrance and then kind of froze when I asked him to fix it, but got through it and, once again, acted like he never heard go-on before. However, I do think he was looking for Carol at the end. It was so funny, he saw her at the trial and he just went NUTS to see her. Which he likes her, but he never, like, is super excited to see her. Well that has changed, apparently.

So agility-wise, we had some nice progress, I was happy he was staying with me and wanting to play. He’s definitely higher and kind of twitchy and feels a lot different than at home or practice. But I still couldn’t really explain his weirdness, and then suddenly he couldn’t walk on the laminate flooring at home. You know, the flooring he’s walked on HIS WHOLE LIFE. I had to carry him from room to room, he just couldn’t do it. And that’s when I think I finally realized that he has hit the infamous border collie fear stage. Pretty much all my dogs have gotten WEIRD around 2 years of age, it really freaked me out when I saw it the first time with London. He became afraid of things he knew his whole life, like vacuums and my dad. And that dog was SOLID, it was just weird to see him afraid of ANYTHING. Since then, I’ve seen it to various degrees with my border collies after him. But they will be weird for a few months at least, it’s not a short phase.

So this is a different side of Asher, it’s definitely weird to see him all wussy, as that’s not who he is. The question is, should I continue to do a few trials with him, or just wait for him to get through this? I decided to go ahead and do another trial, just a couple runs, even entered him in standard, see what that dogwalk does in public – ha! And that will also be Navarre’s first trial since last January. We’ll see how it goes!