Asher’s First Agility Q!

There really has been so much going on, I think I overdid it. Went up for Asher’s 2nd attempt at Nursery, but unfortunately they had us up at 7:30am, which meant getting up at 3am to get out there, and I had already had a week full of this that and the other … well, that’s my excuse. I’m not perfect by any means, but I could not seem to get my flanks correct for anything, it was just a complete mess of a run and I felt awful for Mr. Asher. So not really worth all the driving and lack of sleep to get up there! But I learned a good lesson, I need to be mentally prepared – and I will be next time, Asher deserves it. Super bummed we didn’t actually get to give it a go, Asher responded to everything I did perfectly, it was all me – and I KEPT DOING IT. Ugh. So disappointed in myself, our opportunities are limited. Not sure when we will try again, we are off in Idaho for the next Fido’s trial. I’d like to think we’ll be more tuned up after that!

We really haven’t gotten to practice much herding at all the last couple months either, which certainly doesn’t help. We’ve had some good practices when we have though. His driving is getting better, though we’re still balancing between either pushing too hard or not enough. Whistles are doing well, though I need to learn to do long and short whistles to show him what type of flank I want him to do. Worked on a single again which is really hard for him, he doesn’t go into pressure well. So always something to work on, and hopefully someday we’ll have time to do it.

The next day Asher had his … third agility trial? Fourth? As we’re doing just doing one day, a couple runs they kind of blend together. Now agility I can do in my sleep, and especially if the Asher that shows up is the Asher I run in practice, he was just so NORMAL! No overarousal, no weirdness, just a happy dog doing agility in his very fun Asher way. We did a full course, with no screwing about! He ALMOST fell out of the weavepoles, but hung on to them – so proud! So his first Q, T2B – and first place! Which doesn’t really mean anything, but I’m still proud of him and it was so nice to actually put it together. And his jumpers run was nice too, I was going to do a blind and he went too wide, so I pushed him off a jump as I aborted the blind. But fixed and now Asher has TWO Qs! And now I want to enter him in more trials, that was fun! Definitely a little more, uh, edgy than Navarre, who has a more relaxed attitude towards agility. I’m feeling optimistic for us to have a fun agility career.

Though I will say, we NEVER seem to actually PRACTICE agility. So busy lately, my plan to teach more since I don’t have the arena on the property yet has not been a great decision on my part, I feel like we’re all just struggling to find time for everything these days. Don’t like that feeling. But it is great motivation to get going on the arena, as I will be able to be much more flexible, and will have so much more time. And then I see some simply AMAZING agility training on such fun and complex courses overseas … and then here we have AKC, and it doesn’t really inspire you to really train, unfortunately. So that is frustrating, but nothing new. I miss seminars too, something to help push me train those fun (but pretty useless in America) skills. But Asher is still a young goober, we’re in no rush. Bryn will mature much faster, I think!

Still have a lot going on around the house! Still haven’t finished unpacking, still have things that are being fixed and people coming and going and projects half finished. It’s slowly starting to come together, and I still absolutely love it here. We’ve even finally had some nice weather to actually ENJOY the property – it’s been one very wintery winter! Now I need to start thinking about what I want to plant in the garden, and figure out the riding mower Heidi gave me. So many things on the list!

Of course, the puppy is a huge time suck as well – I LOVE that little thing! I can’t believe Bryn is already 5 months old. We finished up her last lepto vaccine, at 22 weeks she’s 20.4 lbs and probably a little over 15 inches. I keep waiting for more of a growth spurt, but she HAS grown – just not legs. I’m still hoping she may stay under 18 inches … but be bigger than 16! Because she’s so tiny, and doesn’t look like she has a huge amount of growing to do, I now worry she’ll be TOO small. If she’s not going to be very big she’s only got another month or so to really gain a lot of height. But who knows, she remains ADORABLE. I have never had a puppy so cute and she just kills me. The tiny legs, the little nose, the dark eyes and fluffy ears – gah! She’s getting a little faster, and certainly no problem jumping UP on things. Puppy likes to be up tall, I can’t have her in the arena when I’m not directly watching her anymore – too many adventures up the dogwalk/aframe.

Training-wise, she’s starting to loosen up about it more. She’s doing better with repetition and offering behavior, with less girl drama. So we work on one behavior for a minute or two, then go to something else. This week we started working with ‘things’, so get in a box, get on a small platform, go around a cone, get on the fitness equipment – that sort of thing. Knock on wood, so far once she gets something she’s pretty solid with it, though not super quick on the uptake at this point.

The big news and our big progress in training was actually because of agility. I had the new ‘tiny tunnel’ set up for the foundation classes, so I taught her to do the tunnel – and she thought that was really fun. So the next day I showed her a straight full sized tunnel and she was all about that. This was mostly for her thrown squeaky balls, which are her favorite. So it was just funny that after that it was like a switch was thrown where she seemed to connect all the ‘silly games’ we played at home with the ‘fun game’ of agility and she was suddenly much more into training. I’m feeling more confident she will like agility and training in general is going way faster and smoother now. We’ve introduced more complex behaviors, like pedestal pivots, sit up, back up and verbal discrimination and it didn’t take weeks to get the concepts! We also introduced just some simple lured wing wraps and she picked those right up. So we have been playing agility games, which considering she has almost no flatwork foundation for them have been tricky, but make her very happy.

Bryn is still a bit of a bashful tugger, but I had forgotten I had ordered her some new ones with fleece and buffalo fur, we played with those at the practice jumps at the trial over the weekend and she had a great time. Still not a super fierce tugger, she likes the chase more than anything. We’ll keep working on it, she was certainly happy to play in that environment, and switch from toys to food as well. She continues to meet all sorts of new dogs and people pretty much completely neutrally. She mostly just checks them out briefly and goes back to whatever she was doing, they aren’t big on her priority list. No issues with the sounds or the trial, she’s one solid little puppy.

Then we had a chance for her to play with some puppy safe sheep again, it had been about a month? With Dave he gently introduced the rattle paddle to get her responding to him and changing direction, and she didn’t have any issue with that. That was her third official time on sheep, I believe. Was definitely more fast and furious and very keen on his sheep. Then the next day I took her to Ron up at Fidos and such a different energy from her, definitely more thoughtful and less racing around. She did some really grown up stuff, was responding to pressure and really thinking about what she needed to do to cover the sheep. Super proud of the itty bitty herding puppy! And thankful for other people to help her with this beginning phase, I never know what to do. But I think Bryn now realizes that the people are involved and has a nice start. I wanted to see if I could get her a little bit started before we went out to Idaho next month. She’s not ready to do much more, and is such a thoughtful girl that I definitely don’t want to push her. She will be SO different than my other dogs, I want to make sure I give her the best start I can.

So, yeah, Bryn is just wonderful to live with and is showing she’s going to be a really fun dog to work with too – I’m just thrilled with her, she’s fit in so well! And so super sweet – and did I mention cute? She does bark like a sheltie, and will bark obnoxiously in the car and outside at god knows what – so that’s not a quality I enjoy. She has tried to be a bit of a resource guarder around me as well, snapping at cats or dogs when we’re working. She does take correction very well, so we’re working on it. Overall she’s just one SOLID little dog. Anywhere I take her she just walks in curious and checks it out. Doesn’t care for overly forward dogs, and still very much prefers border collies, but has interacted with a variety of breeds at this point. Just cool and collected and SENSIBLE. She definitely has her opinions, but she is just a fabulous little dog.

As for Navarre, the best way to cure a limp is to make a vet appointment for it – and when he ended up three legged again we went back into the vet a few days later … where he never limped, and has not limped since. Maddy thinks it’s soft tissue, the vet thinks a bite/infection. He was on rimadyl, gabapentin and antibiotics. I kept him ever so sadly quiet for a week, no activity. I then slowly increased his activity, and, knock on wood, never saw an issue again. He’s now on just a low dose of gabapentin as I’m fading it out. I just want him to be able to do everything again, don’t want him to keep reinjuring it – if that’s what the issue is. He also went back in for his recheck for his peeing issue. They did another urinalysis, but never called me with any results again. So I’ll try next week to see if the protein in his urine is gone on the medications. He’s peeing perfectly normal, which is good. But he’s passed his quota of weird medical issues this year.

Haku has become my ‘set up dog’, he gets to come play while I set up before classes, and he’s been enjoying that. Then I started letting him babysit the puppy while I sat things up and, OMG, those two are RIDICULOUS together! Haku will chase her around for an hour straight, and Bryn even lets him have the toy ever now and then, which just keeps him primed for chasing. And obviously Bryn LOVES being chased – Haku so needed a buddy again! Did I mention how happy I am we ended up with Bryn? We also play a little agility or obedience or silly games. Haku needs his time too, things have been crazy. And then puppy needs time in the arena learning to play and focus on me with other people around. And just haven’t had any time to work on Asher’s international skills or RC class, unfortunately. I’m teaching a lot more this year, and, boy, did I mention busy? I really would love to have an arena at home to work with the dogs! Someday. But in the meantime, need to make sure I manage my time to get everyone their special one on one time. And all my house projects finished, and yard projects …. and, oh yeah, taxes! Busy busy. Looking forward to my Idaho trip, I need a vacation!