8 Weeks

Puppyhood goes by so quickly, and with a baby puppy it seems like there is so much to do. Asher is settling in well. He’s quiet, for the most part. Though I haven’t yet had him crated in the house, though will soon have to. The boy is trouble, much more so than the very relaxed Navarre was. Asher is always on the go and wants to chew EVERYTHING. I don’t think I’ve had such a mouthy puppy since London – who was way more of shark than Asher, but the other puppies just haven’t been. The more comfortable he becomes the more busy he gets, we’ll see if that continues.

This week has mostly been about introducing life while I’m teaching, which is pretty darn boring for puppies. But it was so hot that I think that helped take the edge off. Still, while he napped quietly in the car for the most part, he would start carrying on occasionally. Sometimes he needed to pee, but I think sometimes he was just bored. So he got to come in and supervise classes for a while, wander around, watch some agility and get underfoot while I attempted to explain exercises or when people were walking courses. He likes everyone and, right now, just sweetly greets everyone for love. Got to see lots of different dogs, met a few up close. He’s appropriately cautious with unknown dogs, though I wish he were a little MORE cautious, but he’s an optimist – he thinks everyone could be his friend – despite the fact that really no one is, at least dog-wise.

The x-pen lasted maybe 5 minutes before he just used his freakishly strong puppy strength to push THROUGH the panels of the plastic x-pen. And he was carrying on before that anyway. I haven’t had much luck with dogs actually set up in the arena, they see all the action and want to be a part of it. Out in the car they seem to learn from the other dogs to just chill. That’s been my best luck crate training, for some reason crates in the car seem to be not as traumatic as crates in the house, not sure why. But he adjusted quickly and he had one day where he was a little drooly after the drive, and then after that I have seen no more signs of car sickness. So that makes life a lot easier and he naps happily in the crate in the car and isn’t upset to be left there.

I still have yet to have him on leash, we’re taking advantage of his natural puppy follow and he sticks close right now. He gets lots of rewards for that, and his recall on his name is very strong at the moment. As he matures I’m sure we’ll lose all that, so we’re enjoying it while we can. He’s not overly fixated on the other dogs, he’s probably less interested in the older dogs than any other puppy I’ve had in my house. I expect that will change, but he’d rather hang out with me than the other dogs … for now. To be fair, the other dogs are not being real welcoming, that’s for sure. Navarre is less clingy and needy, but he still wants nothing to do with the puppy. Bright just tells him off and Haku is tolerant, but doesn’t really interact with him either. Poor Asher has no friends! It would be really nice if he could blow off some his puppy enthusiasm with some appropriate dog play, instead of trying to play bitey face with ME. You have to be careful, he will just suddenly fly at your face, sharp puppy teeth and all. He’s not being aggressive, he’s just got a lot of pent up puppy energy that he doesn’t have any place to direct to.

We have at least a couple mass toy play sessions every day, where I attempt to play with ALL the dogs at once. Which includes tugging with both Navarre and Asher while throwing a special toy for Bright … and Haku circles endlessly. Everyone likes that, it gets some of Asher’s biteyness out, and it makes Navarre feel better. So far Asher likes tiny little toys he can destroy and tug toys that look suspiciously like cat tails.

So, yeah, after one day of being super polite with the cats, Asher decided that cats might be his new playmates. They are not amused. Another reason we’re going to have to start crating the puppy so he can’t terrorize them. I have been letting Asher sleep on the bed, he’s been very well behaved. We have a big play/cuddle session before we go to bed and then when the lights go out he mostly takes the hint and sleeps soundly through the night. So far I’ve always woken him up in the morning to take him outside, he’s very snuggly in the morning! But I miss my cats and Navarre, and I’m pretty sure he’s going to quickly lose his bed privileges anyway. I think it’s nice for tiny puppies to have some time to transition without being crated though, so it’s been good for him to sleep with the group. Haku, of course, lets Asher snuggle up to him, which is super adorable. Not the other dogs, naturally.

We had one half of an accident in the house, but I think the benefit of having such a giant puppy is that his bladder must be huge. For an 8 week old puppy he doesn’t have to go super often. So just taking him out a lot we haven’t had any issues. Any time he stops being busy I stick him outside. And any time I let him in I have him go potty first, so he seems to be making the connection that peeing=party. He’s not picky about what he pees on, he’s done dirt, grass, bark, rocks, pavement – when he needs to go, he’s happy anywhere.

As for training, he’s slowly coming along. We’ve introduced lots of things, haven’t really mastered anything. Not that I’d expect to, but he’s not the sort of dog you can have an agenda with. I may go in wanting to work on waves, but he will have another idea entirely. He seems to pick up behaviors with things more than just behaviors he’s doing. So shaping the target plate and going into a crate went really fast, while he’ll still lags with waving and has yet to offer it without a prompt. With a bigger pedestal he’s started to figure ‘get on’ and with the crate ‘get in’. Asher seems to swing wildly from frantically pawing and jumping at my face to falling over on his side and laying there staring at me when training. Neither of which I really want to reward. We did progress quickly to targeting a noise button for his paw target behavior which he thinks is SUPER FUN. Very cute! He seems to enjoy training, but, naturally, has a very short attention span. It’s also very cute how he will be trying very hard and then has to run off and hump the dog bed for a few seconds and then comes back and trains some more.

He got to go with the dogs to their herding lesson this week, he thought watching Navarre herd was really interesting, but down on the ground he said sheep seem suspicious. It means nothing at this age, he’ll get to continue to come watch.

As for herding with the other dogs, Navarre wins this week. I think our whistle work on toys actually made a difference! Navarre was doing MUCH better at doing all whistles, especially at the beginning. Even with a ‘steady’ whistle which he’s never heard before in his life, I think. Well, still some arguing about what his lie down whistle means, of course probably not helped by the fact that his ‘steady’ whistle is half a lie down whistle). There was some Ian running all the way up the field when Navarre decided that after a REALLY long outrun that he didn’t need to respond. Which is pretty much what needs to happen when your dog doesn’t respond at a long distance. And what I SHOULD have done when Haku didn’t listen to me AT ALL today. Good lord. On his outrun the sheep were so far away we figured he would need to be redirected. Which may have worked but he refused to not only lie down, but stop searching for sheep at all. He was like, “I’ll be right with you, I have to find the damn sheep first!” Sigh. So finally got him back to me after he basically did an outrun of almost the entire damn field back to where we started, and by that time the sheep has escaped back into the trees. The good news, with a redirect that he vaguely listened too – he got them out of the trees! And then wouldn’t listen at all. OMG, if we don’t get some work in with long distances this upcoming trial is going to be UGLY.

But even close Haku was on his own agenda, maybe because I’m feeling the impending end of his career and I just want him to be a good time. I got nothing to back me up. And Ian’s all, “And Haku is perfect all the time, you say?” Yeah, if Navarre had been pulling that shit I would have ejected him completely. So, yeah, we need practice, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen. As always, things are rather loose with Haku, you never know what he’s actually going to do.

 

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Welcome Home

I have a puppy! Asher is home and I’m interested to see if there is much difference with him as opposed to the other puppies I’ve brought home. So far there is one HUGE difference, Navarre is PISSED. I don’t know how he knows that THIS puppy is staying, but he’s sulking, pouting, clingy and being all angsty and weird. He’s never done this before! So there is lots of if I’m playing with puppy I have to be MOSTLY playing with Navarre, and making sure Navarre knows he’s still special, even if he isn’t the baby anymore. Still, Navarre, who loves puppies, is not happy that Asher is here AT ALL. He’s not mean to him at all, it’s just like a petulant sulking child. OMG, the looks and drama – who knew?

Bright and Haku are the same as they always are with puppies, basically ignoring him unless forced otherwise. Asher has glomed on to Haku, as all puppies gravitate to him and Haku lets them. Bright gives Asher some ugly face, but mostly ignores him. She doesn’t seem to think he needs discipline and likes that he respects her authority.  Asher has been SUPER appropriate with the cats, so they are not upset with him. Though he hasn’t really ‘met’ Dragon as he leaves the room if the puppy is around. But just very gentle sniffs and no rushing, pouncing, or being obnoxious at all with the cats.

As for Asher, he’s an interesting puppy. I just love his energy. He NOTICES things, like I have never had a puppy notice the different types of flooring in the house. But he had to stop and explore the hardwood, the carpets, the linoleum. He quickly became comfortable with everything, but he has such a quiet, thoughtful presence to him. Yet he’s way more of a rambunctious tugger and player than Navarre was at the same age. OMG, I am going to have to be careful with him, this dog is a toy DESTROYER. And even at 8 weeks he can rip off pieces of a toy within 30 seconds – that is one powerful chewer already! And he does like to CHEW, and not just a little, but back of the mouth molar destruction. I did give him a bully stick, but I think that was too hard, he whined at it and then tried to go steal the other dogs’ chews. So I gave him a fish skin I had gotten just for him, and he didn’t think that was food at all.

He is ridiculously sweet, and just connected. He has his own agenda, and he’s not needy, but he knows where you are and has such intense eye contact. He made himself at home quickly, he’s okay being out in the yard with the dogs and usually just curls up next to wherever Haku is (most puppies seem to do this with Haku!). So that makes life easier. I have not attempted an x-pen or crate yet, he slept on the bed all through the night, no problem. He had plenty of room as Navarre was not having any of that and went and slept in a corner in the living room, sulking. In the house he’s just explored and played with the toys and attempted to play with the dogs. Haku will play toy games with him, of course, but Bright and Navarre just tell him, ever so politely, to push off – and he does, he doesn’t need much to back off and doesn’t seem to take it personally. At this point he doesn’t seem that all interested in the other dogs, really. They are off running and playing and he doesn’t seem concerned, just keeps doing his own thing.

We have done a tiny bit of training, we worked on his wave and down, both lured behaviors and he remembered that. Then we did some freeshaping ‘click anything cute’ in the bathroom and ended up with targeting his nose to the drawer pull, backing up, smacking me with a paw and eye contact. Then we did a formal shaping session of paw target, and he figured that out and was purposely driving and smacking that in no time. He is getting the idea that the click is controlled by him, but still figuring out the game. He enjoys it, though not terribly food motivated, he thinks it’s okay (I was just using two different types of kibble). He ignores distraction, like the cats or other dogs and tries to figure out what I want.

As for what we tentatively have on the list to train to start with:

  • Wave
  • Down
  • Paw Target
  • Nose Target
  • On Object
  • In Object
  • Name
  • Recall
  • Hold paws, mouth, head, ears, tail
  • Crate/x-pen intros
  • Frog

And introducing all sorts of toys, switching toys, two toy, chasing toys, tugging, race to toy, restrained recalls, opposition reflex.

As for socialization, mostly just planning to take him along everywhere I go next week, which unfortunately is looking to be super hot. So we’ll go to classes, play at the arena, out in the field, go to the park, hiking, watch some herding, see the river, maybe take him somewhere where dogs can be on the patio. He’ll get to see lots of different breeds of dogs, lots of barking and new people. Learn to walk on a leash, he had a harness on last night and was fine with it. Hopefully just learning about everyday life around here and getting used to my crew – and them getting used to him. And hanging out with me, because he is REALLY fun to hang out with.

So far, day two of Asher, he’s just awesome ❤

3 … 2 … 1 …

Finishing things up tonight to be ready for the new arrival tomorrow. My very much NOT TINY puppy – good lord, Asher already weighs 13lbs! Yes, my little fatty is now the biggest in the litter. Hmph. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything, I already knew these were not going to be tiny dogs – I just was assuming they’d be like, Navarre sized (a little under 22). Navarre has lot of BIG relatives though, and these guys definitely seem to take after the Luna side in term of size.

In my mind I had kind of assumed Asher would kind of grow up sort of like a red Navarre. I’m probably in for a rude surprise, because things never go that way. Still, got to meet Rooster in person and he’s just as sweet and easy as expected. This was a litter of two VERY similar temperaments, and the puppies have been nothing but happy, sweet, social and confident. I’m still assuming Asher will at least have that going for him.

I got to play with Rooster a bit in agility this week, he was super fun and a lovely, easy jumper. He was also a superstar in herding that was very responsive and trying very hard. He really wants to be a good dog, and he’s so sweet and loveable.  It is no surprise that I just adore these puppies, I just love both Dove and Rooster. I really wish they were all staying local, I’m really going to miss them, it’s been a very fun 8 weeks. I’ll keep myself busy though!

I’ve had my share of angst about whether I was doing the right thing the last few weeks, but I really am very confident that this is the right dog for me. I’m so excited to add him to our household and learn who he is – but he just has that ‘good dog’ energy that I adore. He has from day one. He tends to sit back and analyze more than the other boys, he’s a thinker and not as pushy – but so super sweet. Now that he’s the size of a small house I have downgraded my ambitions for him in agility, if he really is a bigger boy I worry more about the impact on his body (though of course we will still do it!). I am excited for him in herding, assuming he gets the best parts of Dove and Rooster … instead of just the issues. I’d love for him to be more responsive and forgiving than Navarre, but more confident and powerful than Haku. And hopefully have more natural distance than Navarre too, which will help me a lot!

I have made some lists, joined some classes, and I have my own puppy classes I’m teaching too – but every puppy is different in what path you take. I have to wait and see what he tells me he’d like to do as a pup. All he really needs to do is fit into our household, the rest is up to him.

As for the other dogs, been making lists and plans for them as well, so they don’t feel left out with the new puppy. Was interesting that in my lists of things I wanted to work on with all the dogs, there was almost no agility skills that we’re actively working on at the moment. We enjoy playing around with whatever I happen to be working on in classes every week, and I know what their issues are in agility, but with Bright being older I’m inclined to manage her – and Navarre has issues to address, but we have other sports we’re focusing on this summer.

As for herding, I entered Haku in ProNovice at a trial in July down at Ian’s. Foolish, perhaps, but I feel him getting older all the time. He now has ‘old dog hair’ – the weird long hair they get on the top of their head for some reason, that you can then style into a little mowhawk. I’d like to attempt a few Pro-Novice trials this year, but I can see that we don’t have long. I think AKC, and especially arena courses, are more appropriate for him at this point. So we’ll give our little Pro-Novice career a little go, probably just at trials at Ian’s, I think, but our time in herding is limited. I eventually will have to actually attempt to work Navarre again at some point … but not yet. Probably this Fall. His time is coming.

No herding for Navarre this week, but Haku played a bit with a slightly larger group at Dave’s where he was surprisingly super slow with this group. So that doesn’t bode well. We played around with a little trick to help him get slower sheep moving, basically wearing behind them. He seemed to enjoy that, and it did work when I could keep the flanks small enough. Haku was also weirdly poor on his responses with this group, where he would take three steps before responding – which is not helpful. But he is always trying his best, love that boy.

Navarre did do some obedience practice, broad jump looked good, if his fronts were a bit off. This was with the higher broad jump though, so I’d like to try it with a flatter one, where they’re more likely to try to cut the corner. He also had some issues with remembering to jump on the return with his dumbbell, so we worked on that. His drop on recall is looking pretty good. I’ve been using an arm signal which I think works better than his verbal … but I’ll keep working both. If he’s distracted at all I think a verbal is better. Heeling continues to be forgey, I don’t think I’m going to fix that one. I’ll definitely be using some different methods to teach Asher to heel. Navarre actually was surprisingly difficult to teach to heel from the start though.

And we played herding games in the park, Navarre is doing better at responding to walk-steady-walk, and, to a lesser extent, his flanks on a toy. He still needs a lot of work with his whistles on a toy. Yeah, we have time. Haku is starting to catch on to the walk up whistle, so something we may be able to use in July. Maybe.

And Bright is adorable, I need to get an agility project for her, I’ve used her as a demo dog a couple times this week and, OMG,  she’s just making shit up. She’s super happy to play though! I really should just work on her running contacts, may not make a difference, but she’ll have fun. Bright turns 8 this month! Gosh time goes by so quickly. The tentative plan is to go down to preferred at the end of this year, maybe qualify for the AKC nationals that is hopefully somewhere that we can drive to. So maybe one more big event for Bright? We shall see. Love my Brightness, and I hope she’ll have fun raising Asher. He seems like such a sweet soul, I can’t imagine her feeling he needs discipline! So far she’s never so much as acknowledged that he, or any of the other puppies, exists.

So tomorrow is the big change, we will have a very busy summer!

Impending Adjustments

Such a beautiful spring hike we had this week, I really love this time of year – it’s just magical. Also been doing a lot of appreciating the easy and comfortable relationship I have with my crew. The life we’ve built in our new home we’ve done together. It was such a big change to go from our old home and form a totally new family unit. My dogs were a huge source of comfort and support throughout that entire process, I am so thankful that they have been with me. Since then we’ve played with puppies and visiting dogs, but it’s just been the three dogs for quite some time now. We’re coming up on three years here, we have all gotten used to the way things are.

A puppy is going to be a big adjustment for everyone, and will change the dynamics in the household, no doubt. Hopefully things will go smoothly, these puppies SHOULD be easy to live with. But change is always stressful, and we will all have to make adjustments. Heck, will there even be room for Asher on the bed? I keep assuming he’s going to be a very big dog (these are NOT petite puppies!). I will be pleasantly surprised if he isn’t, but a big dog takes up a lot of room everywhere. Bright will now be sharing the big crate in the car with Navarre or Haku, which they’ve done quite a bit. There hasn’t been an issue, but it’s an adjustment.

Asher will bring a whole new dynamic when we’re out and about. We already draw quite a crowd when we go to the park, he’ll change the dynamic of our group outings as well. Remembering Navarre’s younger days before we fixed his ‘body slamming’ phase. That was not a fun phase. Navarre is used to always getting the toy (which I’m okay with, because Haku and Bright always seem to do something stupid). What will Asher think of group games and how will the other dogs adjust to him?

Will Asher get along with the cats as well as the other dogs have? Will we have to teach him about staying quiet in the yard? Will he be able to hang out in an x-pen in the arena while I teach? Lots of questions about a puppy, those first couple months are just about figuring out the logistics of how to manage a puppy that doesn’t have any manners yet – and then hopefully teaching some manners. I tend to think if you can get to 5 months you’re usually in the clear. Until then, there’s a lot to work on.

With Navarre I didn’t want to use a crate, and we couldn’t use an x-pen, so we did a lot of tethering to keep him from destroying the world. This litter does not seem to have the vertical aspirations that Navarre and Dove did, so maybe an x-pen will be an option for Asher. This weekend’s project includes digging through the many boxes of dog toys in the garage for appropriate puppy toys. I also ordered him some new ones, and spent way too much money buying him a puppy collar and tag considering I rarely use them once my dogs are grown. I also need to decide where I want to bring him to the vet, which is something that always seems in flux these days.

Joined the Silvia puppy class, I haven’t done anything with her for quite some time. I really enjoy her training and just fun she has with her dogs. I’ve also been following Justine’s puppy class, which is more to the technical side and also very fun. I could do a working spot there too as she has another class coming up as well, but I assume this puppy isn’t going to want to work for even one class, much less two! I’m fully prepared that Asher will be similar to Dove and Navarre and be pretty outwardly focused and not ready to work until he’s older. Which is totally fine, we’re in no rush.

Basically waiting to see what Asher wants to do. This week I worked on wave with all the puppies again. They were almost seven weeks old at that point, and way more distracted! Didn’t help that I took each one out individually to the porch, where they haven’t really been and were pretty distracted by the new location. So they all could still offer a wave with prompting, but not much offering yet. Asher just ran off to explore! He has an independent streak to him. He also remains very sweet and people focused. And with a more high value treat, he was happy to wave. Hard to believe that they’re almost ready to go home, the past seven weeks have flown by. I really like all the pups, not a bad one in the bunch. Seems like there is usually a shy pup or a troublemaker – all these pups are remarkably similar and even.

One more week before we become a four dog household. I’m mostly excited, but somewhat nervous that it could be a big mistake. But you just never know when you bring home a new dog, as you really don’t know what might happen. Worst case scenario, he’s just the wrong dog for our household – we will find out.

I did give him a name, which is perhaps a bit cheesy but, hey: Contact Point Heart of Joy, as Asher means happy/joy. I do hope that he is a happy guy, he certainly seems to be so far. I’m taking the puppies to go swim in a pool tomorrow. Well, theoretically. We’ll see if it happens. Then I’ll see them on Thursday for a little bit with Bonnie and Rooster, but I’m not babysitting that day. And then he comes home on Saturday, and all the housebreaking it is all on me.

Meanwhile, because it’s local and life is short, I’m entering Haku in his first Pro-Novice attempt at a trial in Scio in July. I have no grand ambitions we’ll actually do well, or even do it at all, but it gives us something to shoot for. And it’s local and Haku knows the field, so at least we don’t have to worry about the aspect. So, yeah, that might be a total disaster. Hopefully we don’t just immediately blow it and we at least get to limp through most of a run to try things out. These will not be with Ian’s sheep, unfortunately,  so I don’t know what kind of sheep these will be. Adventure awaits!

Back to practicing all the herding skills and, shockingly, Haku’s issues haven’t magically fixed themselves with disuse. He’s still too fast on the fetch, not fast enough on the drive and he’s not flanking with any sort of precision at a distance. He doesn’t actually know the difference between a big and a little flank. He knows what an outrun is and then he knows little flanks for driving, but if I want him to do bigger flanks when driving, that rarely goes well. So we’ve been working on it with toys, including attempting to teach his walk up on whistle, which just seems to be mostly breaking his lie down on whistle, so now he doesn’t listen to either. Oh, actually teaching Haku new skills is not much fun.

Navarre is ever so slowly learning to do his whistles on toys, which is remarkable that he’s even remotely doing it, and even more amazing that I can actually get the whistles out correctly. Yes, for whatever reason, and certainly not because I practiced it, I seem to magically be able to do the away whistle now. I totally can’t explain that. But Navarre is working on his ‘steady’, wait, big flanks, little flanks and whistles on toys. I think if we get them solid on a toy then we can actually just focus on the sheep skills when we get on actual sheep. Of course, I’m still not working him on sheep, so hey.

And we need to get practicing on his Open obedience skills, it’s JUNE now, so his Open debut is just a few weeks away. I have entered no agility trials, so I guess this is just the Year of Things Other Than Agility. 2020 WAS supposed to be about qualifying for AKC nationals in Reno in 2021, but apparently they tore down a building at the facility there,  so that location isn’t an option any more. I don’t know where the new location will be, bummer about Reno, so nice and driveable from us and we had fun at the last one. I heard they’re considering Arizona, which, ugh, no thank you. Too far and too hot. But I guess I’ll wait to complain that it’s not in my backyard until it’s actually not in my backyard.

 

Haku Herds Again

Haku is off with Carol for another AKC herding trial this weekend. Hopefully they’ll have a lot of fun. I was really pleased with Haku in practice this week, for me, at least, he’s getting so easy to work with. He is SUCH a good boy and tries so very hard. He works best with Ian’s flighty sheep, he may not have much push, but with lighter sheep he looks really good. We didn’t do much other than practice all our basics with the hope they’ll carry over to Carol. But he was doing nice outruns, lying down, his driving looked great and he was super happy and relaxed. And then, of course, there was Navarre. Where Ian was like, “You’re a completely different handler with Haku than Navarre.” Which is so very true, but I’m not sure how to fix it.

So we started out just showing what a shitshow Navarre and I are together. And Ian’s like, ‘You need to slow him down, all his problems come from being too fast.” This is not news to me, I’m well aware of the that fact – but I got nothing other than constantly lying him down, which is not handling so much as just attempting to manage a trainwreck. So then Ian took over and Navarre was much happier and has no problem slowing down for ‘hey’ and ‘you listen!’. This doesn’t work for me. So, me and Navarre on sheep is still not working – but he was VERY happy to be back working for Ian and Dave. I think he feels they know what they’re doing.

Truly, I’m totally okay with never actually working Navarre myself. I would not have continued herding with him if I were the one working Navarre. We just make zero progress together and I think it’s a mutual frustration. Something just doesn’t seem to work with us, as I’m not like that at all with Haku. And they are two very opposite dogs, was talking about it with Dave how lot of people prefer dogs that are ‘too slow’ rather than ‘too fast’. Both Ian and Dave prefer the ‘too fast’, so they like Navarre. For someone like me, the ‘too slow’ with Haku is much, much easier. And I do think all the running around in circles around sheep with did with Navarre when he was young taught him that when he’s around sheep with ME, he does it a certain way.

Still, herding makes Navarre very happy, and it’s not easy for him by any means. He has to think and respond and there is a lot of pressure and it’s WORK. It’s an incredible mental workout for him and we will continue to do it as I do think it’s good for him. I truly don’t care if I never actually work with him or he ever competes, just enjoying watching the process and he always says he wants to continue. So we will.

As for new puppy, we will definitely give herding a try. I do assume that he’ll have interest, both parents are very keen. However, it’s not really something we even need to think about until he gets older. But I have some ideas about what I would do differently now that I know a little more. The plan is for me to work him, not farm him out like Navarre. I’m hoping he’ll be more responsive like Haku, but with a little more power and push (but not so much as he thinks I’m extraneous to the process!). Who knows though. I actually like how Dove works a lot better than Navarre. While Navarre is all about GET UP THERE on the sheep, Dove has always worked farther away, which is just way easier for me. This, of course, doesn’t really mean anything as to how Asher will work, but time will tell. I’m excited to try it though, I feel way more prepared now and maybe we can do it ‘right’ this time. Heh.

Navarre did work with Dave this week too, I forgot that Haku was going to be gone so it was just an hour of Dave and Navarre doing ‘brain work’ the whole time. Navarre was mentally wiped by the end of the hour, that is hard work for the goober. For other people he really is trying so hard, I was really happy with him this week too. The herding dogs were fun, happy and continuing to progress – it’s fun to see that. And it’s nice to have a good week too, that is not always the case.

Haku and Carol had lots of good stuff up at the herding trial over the weekend, and some unexpected issues. He just could not seem to figure out where the sheep were on the B course, even though they practiced the day before he and he had no issues. Admittedly, the B course field has lots of trees and obstacles, and he’s not used to that, but you can see that he knows where the sheep are, and then today just crossed over like that is what you’re supposed to do. So that’s puzzling, as outruns are usually one of his better things. Other than that issue, sounds like they had some nice runs with a very pushy Haku. Go figure, he’s been so good with me! They finished his Advanced title and won some championship points. So now I think they should most definitely finish his herding championship. I don’t know when the next AKC trial is though.

Oh, and I started Navarre working more on herding with toys, which herding people just hate. And I get that it’s not teaching him about feeling sheep, but it’s real hard to be dealing with sheep while learning directionals at the same time, if you ask me. Navarre can now do flanks around a toy, and, not shockingly, they’re SUPER tight. However, what we were working on was a ‘wait’, stopping in a stand on his walk-ups. And interestingly enough, even with a DEAD TOY he would still just blow through my commands. So that’s actually a good thing, we can work on that. If he can’t even do it with a dead toy there is no way in hell he’s going to do it on sheep. So we’ll keep working on it. Our homework is working on getting his ‘wait’ and going from ‘walk up’ (which for Navarre is REALLY FAST) to a ‘steady’ (slow walk) back to a ‘walk up’. So he can start having a ‘slow down’ button. Just need to make sure I never ask for a steady from a stop, only when he’s in motion.

I didn’t do any agility with the dogs this week, but Navarre ran at 24 with Robert (the Super Runner) in class and, OMG, he looked amazing! I really actually like him at 24 watching from the outside. A lot of dogs struggle with that height, but Navarre is just such a fluid jumper – love seeing that. I really hope that Asher is a nice jumper, fingers crossed. Haven’t entered any agility trials, I think I’m just too picky these days. For some reason one of the clubs up in Ridgefield changed their trials to one judge – which means SUPER long days for trials that size, so scratched that one off the list. It’s okay for the small trials in Eugene, but not up in Ridgefield. Another trial has that same judge that I had to ask her to fix terrible contact approaches THREE TIMES at the last trial she was at, and I’m done with that. I am still contemplating an outdoor trial near me, as I’ll have the puppy then and it will be good to get him out and about. USDAA Regionals up at Argus this weekend, I really miss when it was local, too far for me. Oh well, we get plenty of agility just throughout the week, I suppose.

Obedience-wise with Navarre we’ve just been playing with lots of waits and downs out of motion in informal setting with a toy. He’s doing a lot better, so it’s working. Still not what I want for the drop on recall, but it’s certainly acceptable. Because it’s the same damn issue we have in herding though, I want to fix it so that down means RIGHT NOW, not several steps. Still need to refresh the broad jump and proof the retrieve over the high jump, but continue to feel like we can at least squeak through, even if we’re not perfect. I’m probably spending way too much time looking at position changes from a distance when we don’t really need to do much variety since we’re entered in Open A, but hey, it’s fun.

And Asher continues to grow. And GROW. Good lord those puppies are beefcakes! But so sweet and people focused and TROUBLE. I babysat this week and wanted to try to teach the puppies to wave. So I got my cheese and chicken all chopped up, got my clicker and then attempted to get only ONE puppy while leaving the rest outside with Dove. OMG, they are SO FAST and determined! I spent most of my time trying to fake them out and beat them to the door and not crush any little heads. Fat little troublemakers.

Still, they all did REALLY well, on Thursday they were still only 5 weeks old and they all caught on pretty quick and were offering waves. A couple puppies, Eagle and Kestril were the stars, they were actually offering it without any prompting. Falcon, Asher and Kite (aka Flavia) were less excited about the food, so not as quick on the uptake. But they were all focused and trying and they all figured it out. I did two short sessions with each puppy, was really fun. Waving is a really easy behavior with heathen puppies, need to think of what I want to teach them next week. Target stick maybe? With Bright’s puppies, they were super uninterested in food, though they were a bit better maybe the last week before they left. These puppies seem very advanced for their age and didn’t seem ‘infantile’ in their learning, but were very engaged.

 

The puppies were also RUNNING out in the yard, I had my dogs out with them and they had no issues with that. Falcon tried to hump my dogs – ha! Great little tuggers, so I have to watch my hair. Just solid pups so far, no issues, they are all really nice dogs – not a bad one in the bunch. Really excited that three (including Asher) are staying local, will be so much fun to watch them grow up together. Dove continues to be a Super Mom, and my dogs continue to be completely uninterested in them. Fingers crossed Asher just slides into my household like he’s always been there.

Took the pups to Home Depot over the weekend, I imagine we won’t be doing much of this as they get older – they were wild and wanting to fling themselves from the cart. But certainly not worried at all, they took the car ride and cart ride through the store in stride. I never worry about them and meeting new people, they love everyone at this point. Navarre was more interested in them today, I think they’re getting to be real dogs. We introduced a wading pool today, but no big takers for that. Asher is going to learn to swim, one way or another. Next week I think we’ll be taking them to a pool, so we’ll see how that goes.

Been thinking a lot about puppy stuff, I should have this down to an art by now, but they’re all so different. And I’m doing two puppy classes this summer, which is always fascinating to see how the different personalities and breeds progress as they grow up. I think I walk the middle ground between the ‘feral puppy’ plan and the ‘your puppy never has a moment unstructured’ idea. I think not training a puppy you miss such a crucial learning stage in their life, but people get way too uptight about it too, and doing it ‘right’. As long as the dog is having a good time, explore, learn, play – it’s all good. I really love puppies. Two weeks and counting until we become a four dog household again!

Say Hello to Asher

Okay, it’s official – as much as I tried to be logical and objective, puppy “Hawk” has just felt like my puppy from the moment he plopped on the ground being born (Dove was standing up when he was born, I figured if he turned out a little ‘special’ I would know why …). My whole goal with this litter was to see what they would be like and decide if they might be the right choice for me and my household when I was ready for another puppy next year. I could judge them objectively as they grew and see if they were good jumpers, good herding dogs, handle stress well and see if any physical problems cropped up.

But, really, the reason to get a dog is because you like them, and you can try to order a ‘perfect’ dog all you want, but in the end, all that other stuff isn’t important. If you like a dog, you’ll be fine. Maybe you’ll end up doing things together, maybe they will want to do other things – it will all work out because you just enjoy living with them. And while if this breeding was repeated in the future, I can’t say there would necessarily be one that really spoke to me in the same way. The nice part about this litter is that I do know a lot about it, you can’t say for certain about any cross, but, knock on wood, no known health or temperament issues, they’re nice dogs with nice relatives. I think they’re going to be easy to live with, sweet and, just, well, nice dogs. Anything else they may or may not be able to do, well, you never know.

So, yeah, I don’t know what it is about Hawk, he has that just comfortable/magic feeling that he is just ‘my’ dog. When you get that feeling it just makes it easy to make that big decision, because they just feel right. That’s how I choose dogs in general, and maybe it’s completely random, but I do think when you make gut decision like that, you just feel more accepting of the dog for who they really are, rather than who you’d like them to be. I don’t know if he’ll have good structure, or how he’ll deal with stress – I don’t know if he’ll be a good jumper, a fast learner or have any interest in sheep. But I’m okay with whatever he ends up to be.

Though he DOES need to fit into our household, which I’m not overly worried about because he does come from very friendly, accepting dogs – and the puppies just seem awesome in that regard so far. So hopefully my crew will enjoy him. My three are very close and work really well together, really hoping adding the puppy won’t change that. Hoping he’ll be friends with the dogs and cats and we’ll have many wonderful years together as group. I think Navarre might actually like him (having two intact dogs may not work out, so that’s something to consider for the future), Bright I think will EVENTUALLY like him, and Haku thinks all other dogs are stupid, so I can’t help him there. I’m going to have a lot of border collie around here, that’s for sure. But at least they will be matching pairs, Bright and Haku are pretty related, and now I’ll have the Navarre/Hawk pair as well.

Next year would have been better timing, Bright is almost 8, Haku is almost 10. Theoretically puppy will be looking at starting to trial when Bright is 10 and Haku is 12, while Haku will probably be retired at that point, I don’t know if Bright will be. Another year would have given us better spacing so I wouldn’t feel like I’m pushing Bright from the spotlight. But on the other hand, it’s really good for me to have a puppy and go through all of that again, as it does make me a better instructor when things are REALLY relevant. It’s been a while since I’ve trained a young dog, and it’s really what pushes me to improve and explore different training methods and ideas. And it always makes me much more empathetic when I’m attempting to train a new dog – they are all so different! And they all teach us so much. While Hawk is a bit of a known quantity being Navarre’s nephew (and I know Dove very well!), they are all individuals and teach me so much.

So I’m excited to work with a puppy that’s going to stay with me, I always have lots of things my previous dogs have taught me that I plan to do differently this time. I love training young dogs in agility, and we’ll also train in obedience and herding, if he has the interest. Can’t wait to train tricks and new training ideas and introduce him to the world. SO MUCH that puppies need in that first year! It will also be super fun as I’ll have two of his siblings in a puppy class, so that will really be fun to see them all grow up together.

It is such a big decision to bring a dog into your life for 15+ years. I love doing the puppy raising as it does give me an opportunity to see so many different personalities – and then give them back. But when it’s your dog, it is different. It’s also a huge financial commitment. It’s easy to have a lot of animals when they’re healthy, it’s hard to say what type of health issues we may run into as Haku gets older. And border collies and OCD these days, so crazy common that I really worry about having to deal with that both financially and the logistics of surgery and rehab if that happened with the puppy. While there is no known OCD in Dove’s lines, and I have some knowledge of Rooster’s lines, it’s just so common I think anyone should be prepared for it. And epilepsy, ugh, I just can’t deal with that. Once again, no known issues with this breeding – but shit happens. I have been VERY lucky with dogs and physical issues. I’m just worried about my luck running out. I’m contemplating pet insurance for the puppy, which I’ve never had.

I knew that I would have four dogs again, I’m on the Four Dog Plan: A young dog, a competition dog, an older dog and a ‘floater’. I already have my floater with Bright, her and Haku are close in age. But we shall what happens, I have had VERY long lived dogs, Bright may very well live another 10 years, Haku could do 8! I used to think that was uncommon … I don’t anymore. So we’ll see, it’s been a while since I’ve had to do the old dog thing. I’m not looking forward to it. It was easier with a spouse that you could leave them at home with. But I have a ramp for the car all ready, can’t stop time, they’ll all just have to come with me.

My first red dog! Not my favorite color, I prefer pigment and Hawk isn’t even the pretty ‘dark’ red, he’ll look like rudolph with his big red nose. And I do expect him to be fairly large (also not my preference!), so he’ll be my big red boy (huh, maybe I should name him ‘Clifford’). But I don’t care about looks, I’m assuming I’ll learn to be a red fan once he comes to live me. You learn to love the look of your dogs. And we’ll have a bit more rainbow around here, he will certainly liven up the group photos.

As for a name, I actually really LIKED the name Hawk, for probably a whole week I was blissfully confident I was going to keep it. Though it should have been obvious WHY I liked it, what with HAKU and all. Whoops. So then it was quite a struggle to find the right name, as names are so very important and have such power. I went through some names I really liked, but they just weren’t quite right: Hobbes (from Calvin and Hobbes, “Bright Fame”), Linus (from Peanuts), Ezra (‘Helper’), Captain, Plato and Caspian all made the short list, but they just didn’t quite fit or didn’t quite roll off the tongue. Finally, I ended up with Asher – which means “Happy, Blessed, Fortunate One”, and I don’t think I could ask for more than that. Also related to a character in an old book of mine from the 80s, and I like that connection as well.

So now we wait and see who Asher really is. How much goober will be passed on from the Dove/Navarre side? Will he have any herding talent? What will he think of agility? Will he be a water lover? Maybe my first food motivated border collie puppy? I’m excited to get to know him, and I’m very confident with my decision. Bring on the puppy, I’m ready. Asher has been reinforcing my decision as he grows. I feel like we already have our special thing, that he knows I’m his person and he seeks me out. Maybe I’m just fooling myself, but he is totally my puppy.

Silvia is starting a new puppy class in June, so I’m going to join that. And I’m doing a puppy class with his local siblings, so another fun way to keep working with him. I have lots of things I hope to do this first year, and I’m excited to get started. Puppies’ first years are always a whirlwind!

Fido’s

Got a chance to go check out Fido’s Farm with Maddy. Other than Scio, the next closest location for herding trials. I wanted to check it out, figure out where everything was, how it worked and for Haku to get a chance to work in the field and to see where the sheep were set. Also, just fun to go have a herding play day. And, yes, Navarre got to come too, the first time I’ve worked him since the workshop we went to a couple months ago.

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(Herding photos by Maggie!)

Such a beautiful spring day, kind of pity that summer is right around the corner, herding is fun and easy when the weather cooperates. New sheep, new location, both dogs remained ever enthusiastic – this is their idea of a good time. Navarre certainly did NOT show any signs of his ‘off’ behavior that he did last week, but he didn’t working with Ian the day before either. He did some good stuff and some of the same crap as always. We started out working some slow moving heavy sheep and he did okay, but then we switched out for some lighter sheep and he thought he needed to push just as hard and even closer than the last group – and that certainly didn’t work well. And while I can get him to back off fetching, I can’t stop him from running right up their asses while driving, so that was a whole lot of arguing with my dog fruitlessly that I should have avoided.

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Navarre got to try some things and he wasn’t super successful at them. I thought I could work on his flank whistles while the sheep were in a pen, having him go around outside of the pen so I wouldn’t have to argue about him being too close to sheep and we could just work whistles. Yeah, that was a total bust, couldn’t get him to understand the exercise. And I couldn’t do that damn away whistle until I tried to demonstrate to Maddy how bad I was at it, then I could do it every time, naturally. Hmph. We also worked on trying to fetch the sheep off of one another, and we only got about two tries before Navarre lost sheep doing that. I can say he still isn’t sure WHO he should be bringing sheep to when lifting off another team. Then when the sheep took off both him and Bones went to fetch them and apparently Navarre just kept circling them instead of actually, you know, helping to bring them back. Dork.

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Still, for all his lack of skill and unearned self esteem, he’s really keen to do the things. Including running off and looking for sheep if I get distracted, and actually bringing them back from WAY far away. So, yeah, we couldn’t really do anything, but I felt better about it – which I suppose counts for something.

Haku also tried very hard. And, yes, we’re rusty on the skills we have not been practicing – which is pretty much everything except shedding. His outruns were surprisingly bad, as that’s one he’s usually pretty good at. He also could not spot the sheep for what the outrun would look like in a trial. He wasn’t listening to his whistle down on the fetch either. He knows his flanks and he TRIES to drive, but especially with the heavier sheep – OMG, world’s slowest drive ever. And he would do pretty good at responding to my commands, less good at holding a line and occasionally kept throwing in 90 degree turns for no reason. He was trying really hard, bless his heart. And I got frustrated with him for not responding and turning the sheep back to me even after five lie downs and he was so upset. Poor sensitive Haku.

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We did some shedding with the big group of sheep, which went … shockingly well. I still find the whole making a hole thing to be like magic, and he came through almost every time! I think he’s getting the idea, knock on wood. His AKC trial with Carol is next weekend, but he doesn’t need any shedding skills as of yet.

Shaping up my summer schedule, trial organizers are making it easy for me to cross agility trials off my list by starting late in the day and then putting all the classes I have no interest in the morning when it’s actually somewhat pleasant to run. I rarely did USDAA as it is, but since they now spend the first couple hours of all their trials totally dedicated to the ‘training in the ring’ class, I really have no interest in going at all. They have a trial just right up the road from me, I thought I’d at least enter a few classes in the morning – but, no. Same with the UKI ‘classic’, I thought I might enter a couple classes in the morning, but, no. Oh well. I have a couple AKC trials I might enter the tall to small days, just a few classes, but then I’ll be waiting until it’s cooler. Ah, summer, I really don’t like it at all – it literally makes me feel ill just to be hot, much less running around. I have a lot of sympathy for dogs in my classes that totally shut down in the summer too – I’m right there with them.

I DID enter all three days of an obedience trial in June with Navarre for his Open debut. I’m hoping we can knock out all three legs in one weekend again, but I’m a little less confident about his Open skills. Need to look at the broad jump again, practice our retrieves to make sure he remembers about coming back over the jump and keep working on the drop on recall. His position changes are pretty good as we do that one a lot anyway for conditioning, but need to make sure he can do it with distraction and in a formal setting. I SHOULD be working on his heeling, but, meh. Good enough, it’s not like we’re trying to get an OTCH here. Now, if he does sail through Open, I do feel like we’ll have to finish up training his Utility skills, which is pretty much mostly about the go-out. The rest he’s been exposed to, but we haven’t worked on them in forever. So it would be fun pull those back out, but if he struggles with Open, well, we’ll see.

Dove’s puppies are FIVE weeks old – pretty much the cutest age, the pinnacle of puppy cuteness. Oh, and they are just such fun, sweet, people focused puppies – love all of them! We took them outside today to a new area of the yard, next to the busy road, and they were just totally solid. Brought my dogs out to meet them, puppies were like, “Sup.” I thought Navarre would love a litter of puppies, but he was pretty unimpressed. Bright and Haku ignored them, of course, and the puppies just did their adorable puppy things. Such good pups!

 

24C Experiment

Ah, that weird pre-Summer we always have in May where we suddenly go from 50-60 to up to 90 degrees with no chance to acclimate (and then back down again!). I had entered the trial this weekend assuming it would be nice moderate spring weather – ha! It’s funny how I ALWAYS seem to trial when we get our sudden pre-summer weather, every year. The good news, the weather will go back to spring eventually, but in the meantime … ugh. So not a fan of sun and heat, but I have yet to find that location where it’s 57 degrees and partly sunny year round.

Did just a little more practice at 24 with Navarre over the week, with trickier courses he does knock more bars. He keeps them up the second time around, but I assumed he’d be knocking bars from lack of experience with that height over the weekend. Maybe a bit more of a warm up at 24 would have been a good idea, but it’s just an experiment anyway. Mostly I wanted to see if it just feels ridiculously wide. He feels okay in practice, wider but not unreasonable – but he definitely gets goofier in trials.

The trial went surprisingly well, Navarre worked really hard to keep the bars up, and, yes, was wide and floating, but it actually didn’t seem like that big of an adjustment or particularly difficult, just a lot more air time – the amount of drifting was about the same. The jumpers course on Saturday just had some really awkward lines where I felt the need to put in like six front crosses because nothing flowed (and I almost NEVER front cross!). That course was hard for him as everything was a turn, so lots of really wide and awkward turns. Funny enough, Navarre kept all the bars up for that run – but I didn’t support a jump enough and he came past. Really though, he can do 24 relatively comfortably, if not particularly efficiently. The really surprising one was when Navarre managed to beat Bright by quite a bit on the standard course on Saturday, and both their runs were very nice with running contacts. No idea how that works, but kudos to him.

Sunday we continued out jumpers curse, not getting ANY jumpers Qs this weekend, including in premier. Bright threw in a spontaneous backside instead of rear crossing at the end, and Navarre through in a spontaneous threadle when I obviously tried to be TOO cautious at a tunnel discrimination where Bright had gone off course. My dogs would like more backsides and threadles, apparently. They both did well for standard though, and I was really happy with what they did in jumpers, despite our issues. Now, standard I had been letting them run their teeters and, yeah, that’s going to bite me in the butt one of these days. Bright’s running contacts remain pretty sketchy, but she manages to squeak by with those too. Navarre’s RC look great, but, yeah, the trampoline teeters were looking pretty questionable. Every dogwalk exit was straight off this weekend, so the dogs ran them all. I can’t really complain.

So a fun weekend, I’m glad I entered despite the heat. Both dogs are at a really fun stage. Bright in the ‘I have no goals but my dog is at the perfect age’ stage where she is just such a good teammate – there is no stress or questions, she has this agility thing down. And things seem to be finally pulling together with Navarre. He still feels somewhat baby-ish, but I think by the time he’s five we’ll have it together. So we’ll stay with our 24C experiment and see what happens. He had a 50% Q rate this weekend. Assuming we actually enter some trials, I don’t think qualifying for WTT would be an issue. Now, I also have no idea where it actually IS next year, or what the qualification requirements are – but one step at a time. We may enter another trial or two, but summer is coming, so won’t be doing much when it’s hot. Did I mention I hate when it’s hot?

Oh, and I got to run a bonus Papillon – Sadie is so much fun! We may be playing again now that’s she in all excellent!

We also did some herding this week, two times actually, and Navarre was curiously ‘off’. From heat? From the puppy? From lack of practice? He seemed to be oddly more sensitive and just kind of disconnected. Did not seem to have his normal obnoxious intensity. Dave felt he seemed like a dog that had been ‘over corrected’. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t worked with him at all, so he hasn’t gotten to ‘cut loose’ for a while. But it was odd, so we’ll see if it’s just a weird week or what. I’m supposed to go up to Fido’s next week to practice, so I’ll work him and see if he seems at all worried or subdued with me (which had certainly not ever happened before). Maybe it’s a sign I can’t farm him out anymore and it’s time for us to actually work together. Heh, probably not.

Navarre did get to work some ducks for the first time! And he was curiously into it and also super calm about it all. Maybe being a duck herder is his destiny. He was very gentle with the ducks, a little puzzled about the whole thing, but trying. If we get a chance we may explore it further.

Haku did some more shedding, with Ian’s sheep it goes pretty well! Ian’s sheep practically shed themselves, so it gives me a false sense of confidence.  Haku is still not great at coming through fast enough, so we talked about some options for speeding that up, either backing up or coming in. So we’ll play with that. We also went back out to Dave’s this week and worked with the heavier sheep and shedding. The good news, we did much better this time! Mostly with me sorting sheep, and we did a couple sheds with them too – but much harder to get Haku to come through. And he gets so upset when I get upset when he doesn’t come when I ask. I think he’s upset to be both splitting the sheep that feels wrong and that I keep getting frustrated and sharp because he won’t come to me. Still, at least we could do it and he’s starting to get a little glimmer that if I come to him I’ll send him around to catch them. The goal is for him to be able to shed with Carol with heavy sheep … we have work to do.

Knock on wood, he continues to be sound (is that two weeks in a row?). I had all the dogs adjusted over the weekend too, nothing major found. Fingers crossed this continues!

Meanwhile, Tilly the rat terrier went home earlier in the week, the house is MUCH quieter. While she did settle in pretty well during her stay, she managed to piss off the other dogs and cats quite a bit. Dragon wanted to murder her, so I had to keep them separate. Dragon does NOT like hyper puppies that come running up to him trying to frantically lick his face. Tilly got the wrath of Dragon put into her, though it didn’t stop her from wanting to still run up to cats. Still, she really is a NICE puppy.

She’s pretty much the dog that people want, a small dog that isn’t at all yappy, short hair, people focused, super friendly towards everyone and every dog.  I really would recommend a rat terrier if you’re looking for a small dog, she is a very fun little girl. She did settle in and was ready for more training, we trained a foldback down and once you can get her focused she’s very smart. And sweet! She got to sleep on the bed a few nights as well, and it was really cute to have her snuggled up with me all night (though Haku did NOT approve). Navarre played with her quite a bit, but would also get quite annoyed with her when she would just keep pestering and pestering. I always think it’s fun to play with a new breed, and it’s good to see how my dogs react to a ‘non-border collie’ puppy. Yeah, my dogs like border collies.

And, look, Dove’s puppies are 4 weeks old now! Oh, they are really getting fun and cute – and such rolly-polly little porkers!

Shedders

We shedded! We did three sheds with a group of about 9 sheep out in Ian’s field. We weren’t focused on the actual shedding part, but looking at spreading out sheep, making holes and keeping Haku’s flanks and position correct without and creeping in. But he made such nice holes I went ahead and called him through he came through every time I called – what a good boy! Then I immediately sent him on to go pick them up, so I think he thought this was a fun game. Haku so loves his sheep, and I’m so happy with the relationship we have around sheep these days. I’m really quite annoyed that he’ll be 10 this summer, both Haku and I really would love to do more, and it took us such a long time to get here. How much time we get … that’s still a big question.

Haku had a couple incidents were he would be off after very limited exercise – usually just running around in the arena for maybe 10 minutes before class. So kept resting and keeping him quiet, but wondering if that’s just who he is or we pushed it too far too fast. Then we have weeks like this week where there was tons of running at the arena, at the park, in the field, at herding, at hiking – and I don’t see anything at all. So I swing wildly back and forth between thinking he’s permanently broken and he’s perfectly fine (for an almost 10 year old dog).

Then Haku is now totally on his prescription joint food, and I put him on a diet to make sure he didn’t have any extra weight to be putting any extra pressure on his joints. Now he just feels so very old and frail to me, his neck is so skinny and he just really has lost a lot of muscling. And I intellectually know that we have yet to even really start to build him back up after his rehab (because we keep ‘resting’ whenever I see anything off), but I also start freaking out that maybe he has something else going on entirely. Like the day he was off after very limited romping in the arena I came out later and he had thrown up a HUGE chunk of some stuffed toy that he had obviously swallowed whole – ugh! And, yeah, since that I haven’t seen him look off in his movement since then – could that have been the issue? Could it STILL be an issue? Why does he keep eating crap the older he gets – he never used to!

So, yeah, I worry. And it makes it obviously hard to have any actual goals or plans with him, and he’d really like to go back to having a job again. He gets REAL nutty without a purpose in life. Mentally, he’s definitely not ready to retire. And hopefully he’s feeling okay, we’ll continue to go back to building more activities back into his life. His next herding trial with Carol is this month, so we’ll see how that goes.

Meanwhile, Navarre continues to feel multi-talented as I do have three different sports he’s training in at the moment. We have been reviewing all his Open obedience behaviors, especially drop on recall, as we deliberately didn’t work that one while he was getting ready for novice. He’s not and never has been one Nature’s Downers, but he seems to be remembering the game without getting sticky or anticipating. Mixing that up with the signals exercise, he’s pretty darn solid in practice anyway. I haven’t brought out the dumbbell again, we’ll look at that next week. Still need to actually train that heeling. He’s very much enjoying it though, still looking at an Open debut in June.

In agility we have been practicing at 24, which has gone surprisingly well. Tricky backsides he’s knocked some bars, but he’s putting in some very solid and athletic jumping efforts with the big jumps. And, yes, he goes much wider. We’ll practice a bit more next week and see what he does with it at a trial next weekend.

I found this video amusing as I never noticed he ran under the same jump twice

And in herding, Navarre’s still just working with Ian or Dave. It was Ian this week and they did some shedding and then an exercise with Jennifer and her dog. They attempted to drive the group of sheep back and forth between the two handlers. Navarre had never seen another team on the field at the same time, and, funny enough, apparently he’ll lie down no matter who is saying it (except, perhaps, if it’s me). So that caused a lot of confusion when trying to get him to lift the sheep off of the other team and he kept just lying down when she would ask her dog to lie down, and then brought the sheep to her, and was just generally baffled by the exercise. Still, he got through it, but needs more work lifting off another team, that’s for sure. He was doing some good stuff though, he is progressing – well, at least for other people.

As for Bright, we didn’t do much this week! We are puppysitting a 13 week old rat terrier puppy, so that’s been keeping us busy. She has a nervous hyper energy that makes it challenging. She’s constantly groveling and licking the dogs mouths, I mean CONSTANTLY, and they don’t like it. Mostly we just try to keep busy, and the dogs were much less offended by her out hiking, and have been getting gradually better. Then we had a meet up with her litter sister that is also in the area, but Tilly kept trying to take her out! Ah, siblings. We’ve done a bit of training here and there, I know she’s been started on a lot of behaviors, hard to say though as she’s mostly just bouncing around. But she has a really cute wave and we’ve just been doing simple things like hand touches and fold back downs. Mostly she just has ENDLESS energy, it’s like she’s on speed, just super happy and bouncy and running around continuously.

I’ll have to say, after having this kind of hyper energy in the house, I know it’s definitely not for me! The dogs agree, I think we all enjoy the relative calm crew we have around here. Though, to be fair, she’s winning over Navarre – he’s having a great time now that they’ve learned to play. I love getting a chance to play with different breeds, I always learn something new! I think she’ll settle in more and more as the week goes on though, and already seems more relaxed around the dogs.

Speaking of puppies, Dove’s puppies are 3 weeks old! Finally they have eyeballs, they can hear you, they can walk (stumble) and interact! They are already a very social litter, they enjoy coming to say hello. My particular favorite (Hawk, the red boy) is very good at making eye contact even at such a young age. He’s also quite the poser! Next week they’ll be ‘real dogs’, which will be really fun.

These puppies suck at group shots

The girls are better posers than the boys

Ginger!

Eagle has a blue eye like his mom

Falcon is still the super model of the bunch

The boys

Dove enjoying some time away from the puppies – she has SO MUCH milk it’s hard for her to run!

I had wanted to do puppies in slings, but they’re too wiggly and the sun too bright when I had an assistant! Unfortunately they’re going going to get more uncooperative from here … Eagle was the least cooperative

Kestrel

Hawk

Kite

Falcon

Obedient Navarre

Navarre’s big obedience debut! Haku and London both had their AKC obedience debuts at the big SDTC trial, and now Navarre as well. And all three dogs got their CDs at this trial too! It’s such a nicely run event, they make it feel very special – and ever so close to my house! I’m always surprised that obedience has a bad reputation, I’ve always felt the people were very nice, supportive and welcoming. It was good to see the obedience folks I hadn’t seen since Haku retired, fun to be back.

I was not overly worried about Navarre in the trial atmosphere, we did do a lot of work in obedience when he was younger and he understands that silence = good, he has been working for delayed reinforcement all his life and we have worked a LOT on focus and attention in busy places – as he’s always been pretty outwardly focused. So, yeah, I felt like while our obedience might not be super precise, we could at least handle the environment.

Navarre is such a good boy, and so much more relaxing to work with in obedience than Haku, who you always had to CALM DOWN (funny enough). Navarre finds it kind of fun, but doesn’t go supersonic with excitement. We had never actually done a full routine without any rewards, so he was a little puzzled at the format, but he was trying hard the whole time.

Day one I learned a lot. I knew they had added a ‘get your leash’ stay exercise at the end of novice, and I did watch one run before I went to warm up Navarre. I did not watch it very carefully, apparently! So I almost got us NQd when I skipped having the judge tell me I could go back to my dog after getting my leash on that exercise. Whoops! And then Navarre did his ‘spontaneous kickback stand’ when I told the judge we were ready on the recall exercise, which is an issue he’s had since he was a puppy. So we both lost us some major points, but we squeaked through with a Q for his first attempt!

Still, he was trying really hard, he was only mildly distracted by some partying going on in the other ring, he did great with the atmosphere and never barked once! His heeling was a lot less forgey than it has been, with him being way TOO responsive as I was trying to overhandle a bit (though still plenty forgey!). No problem with the stand and he RAN on his recall – which it took us YEARS to do that, no idea why he always thought that exercise was so stupid. He didn’t sit pretty on his long sit or play dead on the long down! That was my biggest worry, so super happy with that. A big trial, so we were packed in there, with the dogs back to back, like 12 dogs. He took it all in stride though, because he’s an awesome boy.

He was just trying really hard to be correct for ALL the things, which is funny how serious he can take things sometimes. But his tail was wagging and he was happy and having a good time. The only thing he DIDN’T like was being crated in the building, which is something I NEVER do. I don’t think he’s ever seen it before, so he was sort of indignant about that. You really do need to have a crate in the building for obedience though, and he figured it out by the end of the weekend.

Day two we were both feeling a bit more in the game, I at least knew all the exercises now and learned to not say ANYTHING when asked if I were ready for each exercise – I just did the nod and smile. So no spontaneous kick back stands, I didn’t screw up any exercises for not listening to the judge and Navarre was focused and happy the whole time. We ended up with a 196 and third place, I’m pretty sure almost all of our points lost were on forging in heeling, which as he’s doing what we’ve trained to do, I had no complaints with at all. I’m thinking we’ll be back for another trial, and I know we have heeling work to do if we want to improve. But no big stupid mistakes this time, just one really happy Navarre. Though I’ve never been so worried about a dog on a sits and downs, I kept waiting for him to do something weird. Thank god they’re only a minute. No issues though, he’s one very good dog.

Day three, I think we were both a little sloppy. I wouldn’t have entered three days if it wasn’t so close, and I wasn’t feeling pretty optimistic we could finish his CD in a weekend. Much less dogs on Sunday, Navarre was supposed to be third in. We came in the building and it was surprisingly cold, Navarre was sort of bouncy and distracted on our way in, lunging to hug random people. I think he’d had enough with the whole ‘quiet and polite’ thing. So I put up the goofball to get checked in and watching the heeling pattern … and then the first dog leaves almost immediately after entering the ring and the second dog is absent – Navarre is up! Yikes, we go straight from the crate to the ring with zero warm up … and it showed. We had way more goober, he barked on the slow as he was ready for ACTION and he was really cute, but just sort of goofy and playful and not exactly focused on the task at hand. Still, he was having a VERY good time, we still had no problem doing the exercises, just mostly a lot of sloppy heeling and feeling like he wasn’t totally connected. So, lesson learned – warm up your dog, even if you THINK you have 10 minutes!

Stays were fine, yet again – so that was Navarre’s CD title! Super proud of the little booger, I thought he could do it and he honestly seemed to enjoy himself. And now that he did that without drama, that means we at least have to finish his CDX. Then maybe get a UD as well, depending on how things go. He really just needs to be taught a go-out and he’s actually been introduced to everything else. I don’t have any grand ambitions for obedience, and I never have, I’m not much into preciseness. But it’s fun to have a goal to train for, so I think Navarre could do it. We should probably clean up his heeling at least a little though! Proud of my goober puppy though, he did everything I asked him to.

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Haku even got to come in and see his obedience peeps, which we TRIED to do without barking … and did not succeed. Oh yeah, the days of constantly trying not to get Haku worked up and whispering everything. Still, crazy how much better his heeling is than Navarre, we had a great time heeling around the rings – he was really happy to be back! Haku really did love obedience, and not many dogs can say that. I briefly considered going back and doing some rally with him, too bad they put a jump in it – which is really lame. And everything in rally is SO CLOSE together, putting a jump in is just mean with a big dog, much less a big dog with ETS.

Meanwhile, we did a bit of herding this week, more shedding. More work on me sorting sheep and spreading them out. Then we even practiced a little by ourselves when we went to babysit puppies at Heidi’s. In the smaller pen Haku could come to hand and then I would send him around the sheep as a reward. He would NOT come to hand in the bigger areas, though he did very well with his square flanks and spreading out sheep. So, more work needed.

And Navarre seems to have forgotten his whistles with Ian, as they haven’t used them in weeks. I should work on them, but I’m not super motivated to do so. I did practice that stupid away whistle in the car this week when I didn’t have dogs for once, but I still can’t reliably do it, even it practice. I think I would have been a terrible clarinet player.

Finally, entered Navarre in his next agility trial at 24, so we’ll see how that experiment goes. Practiced at the arena and I started with a set-point exercise to re-introduce him to the height (we haven’t done for it a long time). He ran under the jump like 5 times! But once he finally realized that the bars were higher, his jumping seemed comfortable. Just … wider. Because that’s just what he needs! So we’ll keep practicing and see how it goes at the trial if we want to play with it this year or not.

Oh, and Dove puppies continue to grow. They had JUST started opening eyes when I puppysat this week, which is not the cutest age. But by next week they should be interacting and looking like tiny drunken dogs. Right now they’re squinty potatoes, well GIANT squinty potatoes – big puppies run in the family!