Asher NA NAJ!

Asher is out of novice! Man, AKC novice courses are just downright mean, so while I was in no particular hurry, it’s nice to be done with them … at least, until Bryn starts trialing. But the spacing won’t be ridiculously tight for her, so that makes it easier, in many ways AKC agility is really focused on small dogs, not big dogs (and I don’t even run a 24 inch dog – I feel so bad for those that do!).

I actually hadn’t intended to enter this show, I have one judge on my list that I don’t enter, and not because she has terrible courses or is a bad person or anything, but consistently puts poor contact approaches (and is a judge in our area A LOT, so I’ve seen many of them!). And, OMG, same thing this trial. I’ve never had to approach ANY other judge about safety concerns, but after I asked for approaches to be fixed for safety THREE TIMES in one trial, and was basically told I needed to ‘train harder’, I knew we were never going to see eye to eye on it. And that’s the thing, for a lot of people contact approaches aren’t that big of a deal – and little dogs especially, it’s just not an issue for them. And if it’s not an issue for them, then the issue obviously doesn’t exist. I remember the days when I ran a little dog – ah, ignorance is bliss.

This is the sort of contact approach I have an issue with, one of her courses from the weekend:

But it’s fine, only one dog fell off, so no problem. Which goes to another issue, I’d be totally fine lowering the dogwalk – which is blasphemy to some – but why does the dogwalk need to be so high that if a dog does fall (which happens to even the most careful dog and handler), they are much more likely to be injured? I never saw that course run, but was informed that it ran ‘just fine’ and I need to ‘train more’. I would never ask Asher to do that approach, and it doesn’t matter that lots of other dogs compensate just fine. It’s something I feel very strongly about, a dog can seriously injure themselves on poor approaches like that – courses should ALWAYS have safe contact approaches. Always, always, always, no excuse otherwise (especially repeatedly!).

Anyway, I decided to enter so Navarre and Dot could have a trial before it started to get too hot to trial up at Ridgefield, so I entered the day my problem judge was not judging standard. Though, I have to laugh, this was her novice jumpers – I mean, really?

Squish everything into half the arena? Did I mention how AKC is based for little dogs?

Dot and Navarre are definitely coming together, they are running clean in class sometimes and have sort of figured each other out. Dot is VERY good at playing, which Navarre appreciates! I entered them in four runs, and they had two REALLY close runs, a qualifying FAST run and one run where Navarre decided that weaving was optional. He’s never been one that has ever loved weaving, but it was good to see that the next run he did he didn’t have an issue. But it’s become apparent he only does complex weaving maneuvers because I’m running him – he acts like a baby dog in the weaves with Dot. But everything else looked good, he goes a little slower with her, but they’re still figuring each other out. They both are enjoying it, I don’t know where it will go or how long it will last, but it’s been fun. She’s always worrying about qualifying, which is so not anything I care about.

Well, I DID want out of novice to get away from the courses, and Asher went into the weekend needing one more in standard and jumpers. I also entered him in T2B and FAST to see if trialing more would help get him settled down. But weirdly enough, he was all business this weekend. And maybe maturity, maybe having more exposure – but could also be the ‘Calming Care’ probiotics? I’ve been giving them to both Asher and Haku, and they do seem to be a little less edgy. Not that either one is ‘crazy’, but have some overarousal issues. So, maybe that helped?

Asher went four for four – that has certainly never happened before (though, he’s never run four times in one day either!). His weavepoles remain spot on, which is where I would expect him to have issue – including in FAST where I layered a jump – no issues. No knocked bars, no frantic behavior. We had a couple little miscommunications which were both my fault. On one for some reason I was patting my side, and, yes, he did his bypass! And then on another I front crossed the teeter instead of blinded and was not ahead of enough to cue the next jump so caused a refusal (didn’t trust him!). But his contacts were mostly good, no issues with his teeters or dogwalk, and did NOT act like he’d never seen an aframe before. Though all the aframes he did were not confident and high, he still sees them as ‘different’ – but that’s a lot better than leaping off like a maniac! Startlines were vultures, but solid – and a first, he did NOT jump off the table!

We were a team, and a fun team – he’s SUCH a fun dog when he’s not being a nutball. I really LIKE running this dog in agility, and it’s almost like we’ve TRAINED THINGS, which I was not feeling before. Before I felt like he was just flinging around at the end of string, and definitely not on the same page. So fingers crossed I hope that continues, at least today he feels ready for Open, which is a good. Proud of my boy, he’s one amazing guy.

And, wow, so much fun to go to trial and hang out with people again! So much catching up to do, and just sharing after runs and actually getting to be in there and WATCH people’s runs. Ahh, feels so good. Ended up bailing on the USDAA trial this weekend, had entered just the team day with the thought that would get us the most amount of exposure in the least amount of time. But they ended up not even starting the trial until 11, you had to wear masks (outdoors!), it was hot, I just don’t do well being out in that much sun – so we bailed. Which means we don’t have any trials on the schedule, and may not until the Fall. Ridgefield is an oven in the summer, I don’t do outdoors, I don’t think there is much else.

Mostly back to herding though, getting ready for Asher’s upcoming Nursery trials in back to back weekends in July. I’d like to, you know, actually practice – but that might not happen much. We did get to Maddy’s to practice, and, yeah, the driving issues did not magically disappear – especially at a distance. We were about 50/50, he’d either just walk on like he owned it, or would stall out and just stare at me as the sheep ran away. So that’s frustrating, don’t know what he’s thinking, but hopefully we continue to get more good than bad.

Kind of funny, the lack of practice with all the dogs definitely showed – we went out to Ian’s over the weekend. Navarre was in his own little world and not listening at all, Asher was being a flake and basically chased/let the sheep run all the way back into the woods so I had to walk all the way out there to get him to fetch them. And as Bryn HAS worked in bigger fields I thought I’d give it a try with her at Ian’s – ha! Oh hell no, she just zoomed around doing whatever she wanted to do, no response to that down that we’ve been working on at all. She at least was bringing the sheep TO me, so she had that – you know, at a 100 miles per hour. She’s so DIFFERENT every time she’s on sheep, but I’m also kind of glad she’s not being all super pressure sensitive like she was, I think that would be hard to deal with. She’s just a puppy, so no biggie – not really worried about getting started with her for a while, she’s obviously not ready. And Asher and Navarre, well … you can tell we haven’t been practicing, and I wish that was going to change, but probably not. We seem to be in an agility phase, apparently.

Bryn is in season – gah! 8 months, that doesn’t bode well, I assume she’ll be an every six months kinda gal. Bummer. She also does not think it’s her job to stay clean whatsoever, Bright did spoil me. At least Asher let me know, otherwise I’d have no idea – that girl has SO MUCH HAIR back there! Or, she DID, not it’s all fallen out. Haku had to be neutered because he WOULDN’T let me know when Bright was in season, that was too dicey. Asher is super obvious. So we’ll see how that goes. Easy to keep them separate, whether Asher is going to be obnoxious is another story. He chilled out after his initial obsession and was pretty much ignoring her, I had everyone out playing together, hiking, etc. So I had them in the house together and was on the computer and looked up and there’s Asher humping away and Bryn looking perfectly fine about the whole thing – so, yeah, stopped that and now am being more vigilant. Very sneaky, Asher, very sneaky indeed.

Bryn is growing up in other ways too, she’s learned to walk with the other dogs at my side when I need her to – which is what I consider a ‘grown up’ behavior, and not something I usually bother with when they’re puppies. And she’s just doing really well with self control in general. I can run other dogs in agility while she waits … vaguely near the table (thanks for teaching her that, Asher …). While hiking bicyclists came up behind us and she just recalled and waited off to the side while they went by. Then the next week it was horses – what a super star! When did she learn to do all this stuff? It’s so amazing how quickly they grow up.

Bryn did her first blind crosses in sequence too! Her flanking in agility is getting much better, maybe she’s actually getting the point now? Definitely can’t use a squeaky ball though, only a tug. I was using a squeaky to proof her end behavior on the teeter and then tried to do a little sequence – ha, couldn’t get her to come in for anything! But with a tug she’s figuring it out, and turning much tighter too – I’m encouraged! She remains really fun to play with, miss tiny legs.

Her first ever blind crosses in sequence:

We have done a little bit more and she’s just reading them super naturally, and isn’t flanking and is actually collecting … maybe she WON’T be super hard in agility after all! She’s pretty much got her end of teeter behavior, we’ve now proofed with motion both ahead and to the side and with toys. She will sometimes not come all the way to the end, so just working on that. We’ll continue to add value to driving to the end of the board so that when she’s old enough and we look at putting it together hopefully it will be easy.

She DID get in trouble, multiple times, recently. So, yes, teenager. First one was she’s had some issues getting overaroused when people come into the arena (when my dogs are running around while I’m setting up) with their dogs and she’ll run the wall barrier … which was better than jumping OVER it, which she doesn’t do anymore. But then she was doing that and a dog peeked over the wall and she jumped up and snapped at the dog – so no more getting to do THAT. Then, ironically, as soon as we finally get a fence she finds a way underneath it and goes and visits the neighbor with sheep up the road. Sigh. So the neighbor kindly brought her back, but, yeah, not going to let THAT happen again – which, once again, when we didn’t have a fence it never occurred to her to leave the property! Now that she knows the sheep are over there … sigh. So, yes, working on Bryn-proofing the fence and making sure she doesn’t sneak off when we are just hanging out on the property. Troublemaker.

Another troublemaker is Navarre, we now have two fabulous barn cats – Heidi’s farm cats. They’re dog and cat savvy, traffic savvy and good hunters. They seem to very much like it here and they are super friendly and adorable. And Navarre is OBSESSED about them. I don’t know why he gets like this with other people’s cats, but I kind of assume it will fade in time. The cats are unimpressed with my dogs and don’t worry about them doing anything, so they’ve been out together, but Navarre will herd them CONSTANTLY, and really intensely. So weird. They, obviously, can stick up for themselves, but been trying to keep Navarre from bugging them. So, yeah, we have indoor cats and outdoor cats – and the outdoor cats are WAY friendlier. Go figure. Oh, and the new cats have seen my cats through the door and they’re perfectly friendly and nice, “Hey, how’s it going?” – and my cats are total super dramatic assholes, of course. Fingers crossed the outdoor kitties stay safe, so far they’ve been here for … 2 weeks? So that’s encouraging.

Oh, Bryn went swimming! We went up to Joan’s and Carol helped introduce her, got her a little lifejacket and used a leash to help her be successful. I was pretty pleased and she did well, thoughtful, I think when we go again this weekend she’ll be more confident. Doesn’t hurt that it will be 106 degrees. The heatwave coming is quite frightening, I’ve never experienced these kinds of temperatures. We’ll see if it really does get above 110. Bryn has been swimming in the big stock tank that Heidi brought though, I think we have another water dog.

It’s almost official, yes, Heidi is moving to the property. Her tiny house will get here hopefully sometime this month. She’s here now living in her trailer, which is an adventure. Will be fun to have someone else around, and the dogs all get along … except for Bea, but Bea doesn’t get along with anyone. We’ll see how it goes, and we now have a road that goes to the back of the property … which will also be used for going to the arena, which we will hopefully be starting in the next few months. Right now everything is just kind of a mess, dirt piles everywhere and things torn up by machinery – but the good news, the lawn looked terrible anyway, we can only improve it! Bright Acres is evolving.

And the state is finally opening up! One of the last to do so, but I’ll take it. So ready to move on from all the restrictions – I’ll actually be able to go into the vet with my animals again! I have a backlog of things I’ve been putting off because of the vet situation, I hope I can get them in easier once things are opened back up. I do already have an appointment the end of July to test Asher at the reproduction vet. I called when I thought about the fact I already had a teaser bitch ready and everything, but, not surprisingly, they didn’t have any appointments for a while. But it will be interesting to see if he’s shooting blanks like Navarre or not. This whole having intact boys and girls together is a big pain in the ass, so I need to make some decisions. However, if Asher did actually have swimmers … hmm, I just adore that dog, we work so well together. Not that I WOULD breed him, but I want to get all the facts before I make any big decisions on neutering. Knock on wood, so far Bryn hasn’t gotten weird with her first season, so that’s a point in her favor. Not making any decisions yet, but it would be nice if one or the other got fixed, just for my stress level. We shall see.

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