Trialing!

So Asher WOULD be qualified for the USBCHA Nursery Finals this year … if he had been signed up for it. Which considering I can’t imagine I’d actually GO, it’s all good. I did actually end up becoming a USBCHA member, because you never know 😉 Nursery is a fun place to be, ProNovice is all the professionals, Nursery is much more relaxed and things are expected to go badly. That’s always a good thing at the moment with Asher!

So Northwest Championship SDT at Ian’s place, I feel like it was Asher’s first REAL Nursery trial. The Fido’s trials seem more like great training opportunities, this trial was much more challenging. VERY challenging to start with, they used commercial sheep who were not easy – and the first few dogs they never even got past attempting to lift them. Sheep everywhere! Which made the bar VERY low for when it was Asher’s turn, but also made me super nervous and way too jacked up for those sheep. Because Asher did his job, he had a nice outrun, lifted the sheep and actually brought them to me (maybe not directly, but hey) – which I was in no way prepared for. That whole first run I was just being totally reactive and flanky. It was not pretty, and then we got to the pen and I did a terrible job, got into ring around the pen – silly stuff. I did NOT handle as I was intending to, I was going to be calm and relaxed, get him slowed down and settled – holy shit that didn’t happen. Still, we didn’t completely implode, we still vaguely got them around the course, that Asher is a good boy.

Second run, I was ready to be MUCH more calm and clear and settle the sheep. And then Asher would NOT walk up on his drives. He would ONLY flank, and those flanks were HUGE. It was the most ridiculous zig zag lines you’ve ever seen. And I got so frustrated with him, he so could have done this, and he just would NOT walk up – ugh. Once again, we limped through the drives and did a MUCH better job at the pen, but timed out because of shittastic driving of flankiness. So all that work we’ve been doing on driving … well, not so much! So that was disappointing, as he’s been doing so well – more work to do.

Still, basically by luck of the draw he got first place on that one, and we’ll take it. I know we can do so much better, but he was trying very hard and did some nice stuff too. The, uh, handler needs to calm her ass down too though. It was a great learning experience and showed us all the (many!) things we have to work on. I still think he’s amazing, and someday we’ll pull it together. Hopefully. Asher is such a forgiving boy that tries SO hard, he’s a wonderful teammate to learn with, it’s a journey. Things never go like they do in my head, that’s for sure!

As for another trial, I think Ian is having another trial in Scio in July? I’m definitely into the short commute thing. I’m not sure what else is around. Having some time to work on our driving … would be a good thing. It’s frustrating when I can see what needs to be done, but Asher is not doing it. Sigh. We’ll work on it. One small step at a time, we are both slowly improving.

Navarre was also in the trial, running with Ian – and my expectations were (as always) VERY low. It always amuses me when Ian seems surprised that Navarre isn’t listening, as that’s his natural state 😉 I was actually really happy with what Navarre did – he stood up to sheep! On the first round a grumpy sheep just turned on him and was having none of his nonsense (while the other sheep ran off) and Navarre actually STOOD HIS GROUND. Well, bounced his ground. He walked up, and when that didn’t work he danced around to make it happen, which is as good as it gets for Navarre standing up to sheep. He did not give up, he did not back down, he stayed committed and worked hard to get that sheep moving again. And then go catch the other sheep, and bring them back to the grumpy sheep, and get them moving again … and then the grumpy sheep was like, “Nope. Not moving,” and Ian retired, but I was super happy with Navarre, it showed a maturity that was definitely not there a year ago. Now, Ian says that Navarre MADE the sheep grumpy but running up their butts, but we’ll just ignore that and admire the maturity. 2nd round they made it all the way to pen (maybe, uh, not listening as well as Ian seems to think he CAN), and, once again, really stood his ground at the pen with some sheep that did not want to go in. They timed out at the pen, but I was thrilled with what he showed considering. He definitely seems to have grown up and was trying … for Navarre.

The goal is to try to get him down to see Ian more, though I don’t know how often I’ll be able to find time to do it. Navarre seemed HAPPY again about herding, and that was so nice to see. And hopefully they’ll be able to run together in July again as well. I don’t plan to work with him at all on sheep anymore, and I think that’s just fine for both of us!

As for agility, I do find it funny, I’ve now passed him off to someone in agility too (not full time though!). He really is my dog, I swear! One of my students is 90 years old and is just amazing, she can run like I couldn’t even do in my 20s. She has one agility dog at the moment that has some health concerns, so I thought she should have a back up dog to run – so we’ve been trying out having her run Navarre. They’re adorable together! So funny the advice I have to give, “Just start yelling his name loudly and EARLY, otherwise he’ll take whatever is in front of him.” So they’ve run a couple times in classes and once in the trial the other weekend. Navarre finds it novel, but he’s such a good sport. He really likes her though, and I think if they get enough practice they’d make a good team. As for where it goes, we shall see, but she thinks it’s a kick to run a border collie. While I do think Dot will outlive me, I think when you’re 90 you should live each day to the fullest and try everything new!

As for the agility trial, just another one day trial, a couple runs. I took for granted that Navarre would see the weavepoles, and he didn’t in standard, so I used training the ring to swing him around again and cued it better and it wasn’t an issue. So my fault. I was feeling pretty puny that afternoon (2nd covid shot the day before), so Dot and Navarre had a go, which was adorable – just need to get her cueing things much earlier! Navarre had a good time, he likes his agility and really enjoys trialing. And no running around jumps! Maybe he is growing up … finally.

Asher … well, he may be level headed in herding, but, good lord, definitely not in agility. He was actually not bad in jumpers. I was far behind when he exited the weavepoles and the next jump was kind of a push out, and he read that push as a rear so the middle part was messed up, but I don’t blame him for that. He kept his bars up (that were correctly cued!), was being thoughtful, hit his weavepoles and overall was a good baby dog. Then in standard … oh holy crap. It went tire to the dogwalk, and he SMASHED the tire so hard there were pieces flying everywhere, and then leaped off the dogwalk like a gazelle (which, to be fair, was a VERY difficult exit going into a corner into nothing where you had to do a hard 90 degree turn while having to move lateral to get around a jump – why do they make the novice courses harder than masters???). So I stopped him and restarted, and he actually jumped the tire and at least attempted to get that hard dogwalk turn. I was still too far behind though and couldn’t set the line to the weaves so we had to circle back to get back on line. He got his weaves the first time! He hit and stuck his teeter with speed! He hit and stuck the table! And then … jumped off it immediately. Ha! I really should train that. Put him back and then to the aframe where he LEAPS FROM THE TOP OF THE AFRAME LIKE A LUNATIC. So, yeah, I carried him off at that point. He’s going to hurt himself!

So … he is a baby dog, and if he he were being more THOUGHTFUL these would not be big issues. But I don’t want him to hurt himself, so need to come up with a plan of attack. First, WE NEED TO PRACTICE. And I KNOW this, but, even after last weekend, still took me forever to just take a few minutes with him this week. So busy! And then maybe we need to enter MORE THINGS. I’m considering entering the USDAA show just so we can just have LOTS of runs where he can get more settled in the trial environment. That could backfire though. CPE would be an option, but there is not a lot of that. Baby dog needs mileage. And practice. Priorities, priorities …

Little Bryn would ALSO benefit by having some structure in life. I’ve looked a couple times at some online classes, but nothing is coming up. She was too young for the last round of Shape Up stuff. Silvia doesn’t start anything until Fall, I think, same with Justine. It’s not that I don’t know the material, but it’s helpful to some accountability. Because in the meantime what she CAN do is drive straight ahead! Mostly because it’s so fricken cute to see her little legs dashing around. What she NEEDS to learn is to actually, you know, handle and come into me. But I can definitely say we’ve done the work is making sure she really LOVES agility. I think now that we have that foundation it will be much easier to add in the more technical skills. But, yeah, she’s not going to be easy – that is one VERY pressure sensitive dog – one step towards her and she flies out 20 feet. It’s going to be … difficult. But now that it’s clear that she’s one of THOSE wide flanking, pressure sensitive dogs – we will be focusing on COMING IN. ALWAYS. She does NOT come in now, that’s for sure – and if I insist, she tends to come in and bite me (in a ridiculously cute way, of course). Had I been thinking, I would have started her agility differently than I did … but, hey, hindsight. She can now rear cross though! Pinwheel though? Forget about it.

Bryn got measured at the trial by Paula, 17.25! Which I think is spot on, she HAS had a little growth spurt and she does look more like a dog these days! Nothing like a real border collie, but definitely more mature. And she’s packing on the hair like no one’s business – SO FLUFFY. She is starting to make better decisions, not always, but recognizing that behaving herself makes good things go. So she can now, somewhat, station on the table with the other dogs while I’m doing other things. And USUALLY jump back over the wall in the arena when she hops out to go say hi to people. The baby is definitely growing up.

She did have a sad the other week, she was racing around the house with the zoomies before bedtime and something happened in the other room and she can running in the room yelping on three legs. After I got her calmed down I couldn’t find anything, hoped it wasn’t anything serious and put her up for the night. The next day though, she looked okay until she would hit it wrong and then yelping and three legs again. Sigh. So that was super sad, and I had the rehab lady take a look at her a couple days later – and of course she acted completely sound. Continued to rest her, and then finally let her run around a few days later and almost immediately, yelping on three legs. Maddy was there and took a look … couldn’t find anything. I thought there was a little cut on her pad, but it seemed way too small for all this drama. Anyway, one VERY long week later of resting the puppy (who was NOT happy about it) and, knock on wood, haven’t seen it again. Front right, we shall see if it’s anything that comes back. I hope not, she had been perfect! I did get paranoid about OCD, which wasn’t even on my radar as she’s so tiny – but, yeah, we shall see.

Then she’s back to not wanting to eat at night, which is a weird cycle she seems to go through. She seems excited about treats and fun stuff, but food out of a bowl? Torture. I do wonder if it’s anything to do with her poop eating habit, as one of her more recent hobbies is taking dried out turds from the dog yard and spreading them around the dog room. As almost all my border collies have gone through a poop eating phase when they’re young, I’m ignoring it, but it’s not a charming habit. So, yeah, she may just be full of shit and not hungry – ha! She’s not underweight though, so I’m not obsessing about it. Girls, so much drama.

Still, Bryn is actually quite the old soul. I was a good pet owner and took her out to the Saturday market in Salem, which is unlike anything she had seen before – people and dogs and traffic and noise. Nothing really phases that girl though, and she’s very self contained. She has very little interest in other dogs and people she doesn’t know, which makes walking her through crowds really relaxing! She continues to be one excellent little puppy.

Oh, and she’s legal! Robin managed to get her papers from the breeder, so she’s actually registered now. Which doesn’t mean much, but if I ever thought she needed to have adorable little baby Bryns, there you go. In the meantime, the big question will be when she does come in season for the first time. I was spoiled with Bright, she didn’t have her first heat until 17 months, and then every 9 months – that’s how you do it! I think I may have just been lucky on that one though. So we’ll see how Asher does and what effects it has on Bryn. Hormones can be a bitch, that’s for sure.

Fence goes in for the dogs this week finally, getting materials right now is tricky. I think they’ll enjoy getting to hang out there though, at least during the drier months (of which this spring as been RIDICULOUSLY dry!). In the winter I don’t want to deal with the mud, but it will be nice to have a secure place for them. The project list is getting shorter and things are getting more settled here – I’m finally exploring the areas around me. So crazy that even though I’m ‘out in the middle of nowhere’ I’m 15-20 minutes from so many more things than I was in Hubbard! So that’s been fun, I really love it here!

I did get out to Maddy’s to practice after the trial, and it was at least comforting that Asher had the exact same issues in practice that he did in the trial – and it was definitely a distance thing. There is a bubble right now that if he passes it he just stops and won’t take any responsibility for the sheep – and, oh my, the super wide flanking! So we need more LONG DISTANCE driving – his closer up driving actually was pretty good! Which shouldn’t be a huge surprise – that’s what we’ve been PRACTICING. Funny how that works.