Has anyone mentioned the torrential rain?

While it was really fun to have Star here, I must say, life is so much more relaxing without a puppy around. Star was so happy to see Mary she piddled, which considering she hadn't done that to anyone since day one showed how very excited she was - they are very sweet together. Temporary puppies are the best, we certainly aren't ready for one ourselves so it was fun to have just a sample.  And Obi remains super easy, sweet and fun.  He loves to play with the toys and have you tug - he's a fun boy.

It was an adventure this morning, with the pouring down sideways rain and nine dogs to get pottied.  There were many sad, pathetic faces and so much drying of wet smelly dogs. As suspected, this year is just being a total bitch weather-wise.  We went from hot and humid to record breaking rainfaill - and no Fall whatsoever.  And any Fall that had tried to make an appearance I'm sure was washed away today, or will be by the weekend - our record breaking rain will be continuing.  More sad faces, more wet dogs, and more un-exercised dogs, it's just nasty out there.  Even the chickens were just up on their roost saying, 'Fuck it, we're just going to bed'.  Oh, Oregon - why so angry this year?

My voice is shot from teaching, trying to shout over the pouring rain on the arena roof - Heather is not made for being loud in any way.  And we have the final UKI trial tomorrow afternoon - at least two of the runs are supposed to be outside - ha!  Then obedience this weekend - theoretically.  Thankfully Carol was able to explain how to find out when to show up, and where.  If I get run over by an RV full of conformation dogs I'll realize that this was just the universe trying it's best to tell me not to go this weekend, it has been nothing but one thing after another.  But I'm hoping it's just because it's new, and I'll figure it out, it's only our second trial.  Hopefully won't get run over.

Did some practice with Bright this week, she's definitely feeling way more confident - which is sort of causing an issue. New and Improved Bright is just SURE that what she's doing is correct.  This is new, as she has been previously so easy to work with because she would quickly adjust her behavior when she wasn't rewarded.  Now Bright is getting a little more like running London, she's doing what she THINKS I will cue, and sort of ignoring what I'm actually doing.  Love to confidence and her being a more active participant, but running her has gotten a whole lot harder. On the plus side, her contacts looked fabulous today and she was NOT anticipating turning away into the tunnel, and in fact was nailing all exits, so that always is fun.

Haku has gotten no obedience practice, but I figure that's the best way to do it - he'll be so bored from the rain and the puppy and lack of training that going to an obedience trial will seem FUN.  This is my theory, anyway.  He actually has quite enjoyed all the trials we've been to so far - still amazes me.

Getting hair on her tail again!

Incoming Haku

Yes, that's Haku hair in Poco's mouth - she felt he needed discapline

So handsome!

Everyone loves the purple ring

Happy aussie!

Two ships

Okay, female border collies crack me up.  Star and Bright do NOT like Obi, and it's not because of anything he does, they don't like him just because he EXISTS.  And he's just the sweetest guy, and just takes their dirty looks and irrational rules about where he's allowed to go and what he's allowed to do.  Star did not learn this from Bright, she met Obi by herself, and just flipped her shit - I had never seen her act towards another dog like that.

But good news for Obi, Fizban LOVES him - and immediately started rubbing all over him and trying to play with him.  I'm trying to think, I don't feel like Fizban has ever spent that much time with Obi, but Fizban totally adores him for whatever reason. Maybe Obi speaks good cat, living with three of them.  But not Star, the cats are not fans of Star.

Obi really doesn't seem to mind the girls.  I'll have to say, quite the comparison between having Star, the complicated and dramatic Super Bitch, and Obi, the sweet, happy and easy boy that is always trying to be good.  Aussies, they are people dogs, that's for sure. Also helps that Obi is 4 years old and really overweight, he's pretty low maintenence.  I've never had a dog stay with us that was so rotund, I can't stop marveling at his girth.  I hope he doesn't blow out his knees while he's staying here, as he still WANTS to run with the other dogs, but that's a heck of a lot of mass to move, I'm worried about him.

Star heads home tomorrow, I'm sure she'll be super happy to see Mary again.  We have very much enjoyed having her here, and she certainly made herself at home.  Was really fun to get to know her better and get to work with her, excited to see what she grows up like.  She's a really fun girl, as long as she's not feeling too bitchy.  Fingers crossed she mellows out with the bitchiness as she gets older - but, well, she is a female border collie, that's kind of their thing.

Did try to do some rear foot targeting on her bosu ball at the arena with a toy with Star - ha!  Yeah, her brain sort of falls out of her head when the toy is involved. MUST STARE AT TOY.  It's really cute to see trying to search for the bosu ball with her rear feet while refusing to look away from the toy - she's trying to multitask.  The big news of the day is that she actually did some cone wrap sends FOR A TOY.  We had worked up to little sends to the cone for food, so I threw in a toy and she would, eventually, go wrap that cone.  You know, not easy as it involved TURNING AWAY FROM THE TOY, but she did it.  SuperStar!  So much fun to play with that girl, and it's so cute that when she crashes she's just OUT, you can tote her around and stick her anywhere at that point and she'll just sleep wherever you put her.  Star loves her sleep!

Handsome Obi

I do think Star has gotten bigger while she was here

A Fall Poco

Star does this to herself

It might not look like it, but Bright actually has more hair these days!

Size comparison - Star is actually very shrimpy at the moment!

Eva looks good in leaves

Getting bigger all the time


Puppy class!

I took Star to her puppy class with Tammy this morning.  She is a funny girl, every time I would go to get her out of the car for her turn she gives me this look like, "I'm RESTING, come back later."  Then I have to physically lift her out of the crate.  She's always excited once she gets out there, but that girl finds napping interruptions to be annoying.

Sometimes Star does remind me of a drivey Bright, they have very similar attitudes during work. Star is happy to work for food at home, but at the arena she will give you 3 seconds and then she's off to find something more interesting. Now, if you have a TOY, then it's a totally different game.  Bright was similar, all about the action, food is for sissies, especially as a puppy.

Was happy to see what we worked on this week did, somewhat, transfer to class - that Star is really fun to work with.  No lack of enthusiasm with that girl, she's made for agility - love her growling and barking backtalk. Back at home I got out the clicker and worked on shaping wrapping a cone - Star did great!  That will probably be our last project before she leaves, I will miss getting to play with a puppy.  If you really want to see a boring video, I took some to show reward placement, so here you go - 3 minutes of a dog wrapping a cone.

And, uh, yeah, Star really shouldn't run with other puppies - she gets entirely too bitchy.  She's very respectful with adults but a terrible tyrant with dogs she thinks she can push around.  Was fun to see the other puppies though, Ripley is getting BIG!  And loud. ;-)

About 21 weeks or so, still very much in the awkward growing stage

Ripley loves to train!

Pippin doing some rear end targeting

Ripley and Pippin are a good match!



I would recommend if you want a dog that photographs well, get a tri red merle

Puppy love

Oh I like having puppies around, that magical time when everything is new to them and they're figuring out who they are and what they like.  Temporary puppies are the best, all the fun with none of the lifelong commitment.  Very much enjoying having Star here, though our puppy time is getting shorter, just a few more days.  We're actually getting my parent's aussie on Tuesday, so we'll be busy even after Star goes home.  Cute though Obi is, he's no puppy though - I do have a weakness for baby animals.  But, uh, who doesn't?

Star does definitely have the Holman 'roll with it' attiitude.  Which is both nice and a little disconcerting. To this day if London went home with a total stranger, he would be perfectly fine with that and never think of me again.  Lives in the moment, that boy, doesn't waste time lamenting the past or worrying - Star seems very much the same way.  It's fun as wherever they go they're READY for action, but also makes you feel a little extraneous sometimes.  Star doesn't NEED me, but she likes me - and she's ALWAYS ready to play.

We have had FUN this week, that girl is a total party.  It's hard not to just romp with her all the time, she's quite the serious little worker too - very much reminds me of Bright.  We did NOT make any progress on heeling (Star thought that was stupid), but Star now does an adorable splat into a down for a thrown toy and races back to me - it's SO CUTE.  She, uh, does not do this with other dogs around.  She did actually manage to bring a toy back several times when other dogs were lying down out in the field though, so that was progress. Been using the bosu ball for rear end targeting, as I think Mary wants to do running contacts with Star, so I didn't want to put any stopped associations with a board - and Star is SO CUTE with that too.  Though not quite ready for a toy and that behavior, her brain falls out.  Food though, she's ON IT.

Star is actually pretty good with restraint, we did nails and worked on looking in her mouth and ears and that sort of thing - but the recall, um, not so much.  She does not want to picked up is the issue.  So we've just been working on jumping into my lap and giving kisses, which is cute. Did I mention how cute Star is?  I haven't acually needed a recall on Star, as she sticks close and is happy to go in and out, but, yeah, lean in to pick her up and she's outta there.  I bet she would be fun to have jump into your arms though - how sturdy IS Mary?

Still can't really say how big she's going to get.  She's no lightweight, speaking of picking her up.  And she's only 18 weeks.

Bright at 18 weeks SEEMED much bigger - and at least in paw size - though we thought she was going to be HUGE, then she just ... stopped.  I do think that's half the fun of a puppy though, waiting to see what they're going to look and act like as adults - and the whole litter is a mystery.  Though, randomly, Hitman's brother was in the Steeplechase finals yesterday!  He looks BIG, but a nice mover and a nice jumper. I hadn't seen that many relatives on his side of the family doing agility, so it made me happy to see.

Fun times with puppy, though a rough couple days with Poco, she hasn't wanted to attempt the stairs, so I've been carrying her.  Yet she ate all her dinner last night, and that was without anything exciting in it as I forgot to defrost the raw. Still enjoys her treats and walks through the field, just hard to see her not be able to do basic things these days - but I think more upsetting for me than her.

SO MUCH LEGS (and they are ALL over the place when she runs - it's quite amusing, like watching Bambi run)

Bring on the obedience

We actually live near a tiny airport, that flies tiny cute planes

Just brought Haku to obedience this week, as this was our final warm up before the trial next weekend.  No obedience next week as Bright has another UKI trial. I still haven't actually recieved anything about the obedience trial, but apparently no one else has either, so I'm in good company.  I'm assuming we're entered though.

This will be Haku's second AKC obedience trial, I believe it will actually be in the agility arena up at Ridgefield. I still feel rather let down that obedience trials happen in the same dark, dirty, dusty, dank arenas that agility uses. I always had this vision of obedience being CLEAN (and climate controlled!).  It's always clean in people's videos.  Hmph. Not around here though. Anyway, so the whole obedience world continues to be a big mystery, so mostly any stress I feel about the upcoming trial is from not really knowing how it all works, rather than the obedience itself.  Haku has already proven he can do this, we just need to get our last leg in both AKC and UKC then we can just focus on Open.

Anyway, so definite improvement with handling more aggressively on the left and inside turns, apparently Haku is just enough afraid I might run him over that it works.  Sharp corners and pacing myself in the slow.  No issues with the stand for exam, though too much enthusiam with the recall, he often ends up with a foot on my foot. Oh well.  No anticipating the finish, so that was nice.  Then we actually worked on stays, and who doesn't think those are stupid?  Need to work on Haku's 'relax' for the down, I had forgotten about that as we never practice stays.  All in all, not bad, if everything goes well it would be nice to finish his novice title.  We shall see, sometimes things just happen.

Otherwise we talked about failed go-out experiment #312 and we're on to #313.  Keeping it simple, going back to targets, sticking with his current cue, just going to use the waist leash - for a long time.  Though we DID do a go out with turn and sit when doing UKC glove today, and it was BEAUTIFUL. Uh, the first time.  Gloves were sort of a train wreck today, he only wanted #1.  Send him to #2, he went to #1.  Sent him to #3 and he STILL went to #1.  Dork.  Oh, and new cue for his turn and sit on the go-out, we're going for 'COME-sit', as Haku does not want to turn around.  Dork.

Heather has new footwork for the broadjump, and proof why footwork should be a last resort to fixing thigs. I just have never been able to learn by thinking about specific foot placement.  But I do think this will help Haku, basically stepping back with my right foot into a T with my left foot, then bringing up the left foot. I could do it without a dog, but as soon as I had to both release Haku AND TAKE A STEP, I just couldn't. It was comical.  I did it once, and Haku's front was lovely.  May have been those other 6 reps it took to get there though.

We also worked on QUIETLY praising. Ever so quietly. We'll see if we can get through an obedience run without a bark. Hasn't happened yet.  I do kind of assume Haku will be extra charged for this trial, though he could prove me wrong.

In other news, BRIGHT IS GROWING HAIR!  Just all of the sudden she looks shiny and healthy again, instead of like she has some sort of fatal disease.  She's still naked, but the hair is coming - just wait.  The Bustle WILL return!

More fun following cynosport today, in addition to all the NW peeps and LJers there are also three Bright sibs and three Haku sibs down there - so many folks to cheer on!  I hear the dogwalk discrimination was killer, which actually annoys me.  Mostly because I know if I set up the exact same, true to map challenge in the arena it won't be the same at all. There is something about discriminations that doesn't transfer to the smaller dimensions of the arena, even when built the same.  So I feel like I never REALLY get to practice them!  And I do need to practice them, very much on my list.

So I see these birds, and they were all flying like they were drunk - and when I looked in my camera I realized they were all carrying acorns.  Apparently it's not easy to fly with an acorn.

Star Light, Star Bright

It's official, I love Star. I mean, I always loved her as a puppy, but now that she's more of a dog I love her even more.  She does that thing that Bright does, which is act all girly (or in Star's case, bitchy) and instead of me finding it obnoxious, I think it's ADORABLE. They both just have this quality about them that cancels out traits that normally drive me up the wall. Maybe it's because I don't think they REALLY mean it.  Bright is not REALLY freaky and sensitive, and Star isn't REALLY bitchy and snarky - they just act that way sometimes.  And when THEY do it, it's just really CUTE.  And at heart they are both just such good girls, with such healthy self esteem - I don't think it's ever occurred to either of them to think they were in the wrong.  They are quite certain that they are the best dogs, and this amuses me greatly.

Really surprised how quickly Star integrated into the household.  All of the dogs seem totally accepting of her, even when she's being annoying.  Now, is this a puppy license thing? Do they think it's Bright's job to tell her off?  Do they remember her as a puppy and don't want to piss off Bright?  Bright certainly will tell Star to knock it off, but that is not what Bright feels Star needs, actually.  If I had to say what it looks like to me, Bright is just trying to get Star to loosen up and not take things so seriously. Already the tension when Star has the toy has diminished greatly, she really is relaxing about being 'in control' of the toys. When she first arrived no one would try to take a toy near her vicinity, even Bright, but Bright kept GIVING her toys rather than taking them away, and now they seem to give and take much more equally. And perhaps I'm just seeing things that aren't really there, but it's been fascinating to watch the interactions since Star arrived.

Star is actually really easy, not demanding and not a troublemaker at all. She can be free in the house with all the dogs, mostly she just plays with toys or Bright or naps.  She's actually quite chill, doesn't harass the other dogs, chew on things or cause chaos.  We did have some issues with her chasing the cats, but I think just because they ran.  When Star starts 'hypersqueaking' it freaks them out.  But even then, she may chase the cats but she doesn't try to CATCH them, she just is very curious about them.  Fizban was the most freaked out, but he's almost decided she's really not that threatening after all. Star is actually really gentle with the cats when she's next to them, she just doesn't know what they are.

Star is gentle in general, she's a delicate forest sprite like Bright, and forest sprites don't go running into trees and crushing squirrels.  Still, she's no girly-girl - she is just the right amount of Forest Sprite and Xena, Warrior Princess.  She's also very relaxed in her x-pen or crate, sleeps mostly through the night and has been pretty good about housebreaking.  She had one very London-esque moment when she was sleeping in her x-pen, woke up, and just started peeing as she was walking, completely unconcerned.  Since then she's let me know if she needs to go out, thankfully.  Weirdly enough, after the first day she still hasn't done any excitement peeing whatsoever - total mystery as to why that suddenly disappeared.  Maybe Bright told her to put on her big girl panties and stop peeing on everyone.

Our official homework while she was here was to train the retrieve, but as we did that we're moving on. Got her offering a down, though still needs work to actually be on cue and only rewarding the foldback downs.  Also played around with some rear foot targeting, which I assume she has done before as she seemed happy to offer it.  What she REALLY needs is recall and restraint work, so while it's not as fun as a retrieve, probably ultimately more useful.  We're having a great time though, she's a very fun dog to work with and, yes, reminds me a lot of Bright when she trains.  Shocking, but true.

Retrieve success!

I should have done a 'before' video, it was comical to see her reaction when you would throw a toy for Star, it's like it would cease to exist.  As I suspected though, once Star figured out that if she can make you tug by bringing you a toy, she thought it was the best game ever.  She does get a little premature with the tugging part, and keeps yanking it out of my hands before I can get a hold of it.  She was already getting the hang of pestering me by trying to give me the toy when I wasn't paying attention to her. Being a border collie, I expect Star will soon become obnoxious about it.

Bright is quite enjoying having Star here, they are playing together more and more, and wrestling again at the moment - Bright can never get our dogs to play like that.  Someday Bright will get a puppy of her own.  But not for a couple years.

Courses at USDAA nationals look fun so far, I've been enjoying the updates on FB and cheering on everyone down there.  Looking forward to following the results!

Star gets comfortable

I think I had the sign that I'm officially old, I actually went out of my way to complain about packaging to a cheese company.  Well, not so much as complain as to 'helpfully point out', just like an old person with nothing better to do would.  I had only good intentions, if that helps, I love Tillamook products, I buy them all the time, but their new packaging LITERALLY looks like a generic brand - I can't even find it and I'm LOOKING for it.  I don't know who worked on their new design, but it's really ineffective.  And apparently I felt the need to let them know.  Yes, I took time out of my day to write a cheese company about their packaging - if that's not a sign, I don't know what is.

Little Star is FAST.  She graduated to being out with the 'troublemakers' today, Eva, Haku and Fenwick, once they had gotten their ya-yas out.  She's actually really good at being thoughtful out with the other dogs, but when she gets to chasing the big dogs, WOW, can she move.  She's got crazy acceleration and forward drive - she did not get that from her mother.  Just watichng the two out together, Bright is a loper, Star is always full speed ahead.  I can't imagine that's not going to transfer to agility, so Mary will have her hands full with that one.

I always find it fascinating to bring in a puppy into a multi-dog household. Star adjusted amazingly quick and the other dogs accepted her without an issue.  Star was out there running and body bumping with Eva, just like Bright - it's weird how quickly she just fit in. Considering Star is a VERY strong personality, the dogs are remarkably accepting of her.  Will be interesting to see as she matures if Bright will be able to stand her at all - that Star is ALL Bitch, much more than Bright.  Bright is already backing down to her, which seems crazy to me.

Interesting to note, Star didn't pee when greeting anyone today - and she got to meet quite a few people before and after class.  I warned folks and was ready for it, but nothing - not even for Tammy.  No excitement pees in the house either - so that's a mystery where that went to.  I will say that girl drinks like a CAMEL, which I'm sure doesn't help the excitement wee.  She is her mother's daughter when it comes to eliminating in other places - couldn't get her to go at the arena at all today, and you could see she had to poo. But she held it until we got home and raced out into the yard to do her business.  Such a Bright move.

Retieve continues to get better, we practiced at the arena with a new object, which is her fourth that she's worked with.  Tonight we had our first delivery to hand ... sort of.  She actually likes to back UP with the object, which is counterproductive. Definite progress though, I think once she figures out she can make people tug by bringing them toys it will be a whole new world for her.  I did hear that, yes, Star DOES actually have a sit and down, but has no interest in showing them to me. ;-)  One thing Star is VERY good at is relaxing in her crate.  No issues at all leaving her in the car with the other dogs, she's sound asleep whenever I went out there and took a nap in her x-pen in the other room this afternoon with no worries. She sleeps SOUNDLY, and the girl likes her comfort - unlike my border collies she is always looking for the cozy bed, rather than the hard floor. Novel.

I did see a little Bright in her today, had her on my lap and she was happy to relax on her back and snuggle - at least when Fred wasn't running.  It was good to see that sweet side of her, she's so on the go all the time I was surprised she was so content to relax on my lap.  And of course she is wild about playing, anywhere, anytime - it's almost involuntary with her, like a reflex, she can go from relaxed to growling tugging hellion in a second.

Some random Star video, the beginning (the daytime video) was her first day here, while the evening footage was from tonight.  She definitely has made herself at home.

Haku did some stopped dogwalks at the arena today, and they were HAPPY, which I think is my sign I'm going to do another agility trial with him in November.  We also worked on some novice exercises for his upcoming obedience trial.  His THEORETICAL trial, I haven't heard anything about it yet, so hopefully they got his entry.  I'll admit, I really wouldn't care if he didn't get in.  He is definitely much better on the left and inside turns if I try to crowd HIM, rather than try to compensate for when he gets pushy.  Aggressive heeling, sharper left turns - well, I think he's actually going to do worse now than he did at his other novice trials.  Oh well.  So ready to move on to Open though.

Worked on some dogwalks with Bright as well, as the course had a soft turn into the weaves, which is I think one of the more difficult dogwalk exits.  It LOOKS straight, but unless they collect they won't hit like they should.  So happy to see Bright adjust and confidentally OWN that exit after we worked on it. Not to say she magically can do soft exits, but she's getting so much better.  Love having a target behavior for the dogwalk, criteria is a magical thing for being able to positively show Bright what I want.  Also did some threadle rear practice, which was good - just enjoying where Bright is in agility at the moment, such a happy place.

Okay, not a fluke, Star just put herself away in her x-pen again.  I thought she was just looking for chewies, but she really does just ... like being in her x-pen.

I can't believe that London will be a 11 next month, it actually freaks me out after losing Nova, who was only a year older than him. 11 isn't old, not even close, but 12 isn't either - sometimes things just happen when dogs get older.  I will admit that with Poco, Fenwick and Brisbee I have mentally adjusted to the fact they're old at this point - and all that eventually comes with it.  But London ... the thought of losing him is incredibly distressing.

Was just talking about his rocky puppyhood and learning to love London's crazy independence.  The relationship we have is so different than the other dogs, and it's almost closer in some ways, because it is so different.  It is a relationship of equals, built on trust, not taken for granted - London speaks English better than any of my other dogs because he tries so hard to figure me out, it never came naturally to him.  His ability to communicate is uncanny because it's not normal, he literally speaks to me, with vocalizations and physical cues.  When he looks at you it's with such crazy intelligence where he's not trying to speak 'dog', he's trying to speak human - and succeeding.

All my dogs are special, but the thought of losing London - which I had never really thought about before, well, it's painful.  It is funny to think of where we are now compared to where we started.  Though, good lord, he was a terrible puppy - I wouldn't want to go through that again.  Love my London though, and hopefully he, much like all my dogs, will live a very long time.  When your dogs live to be 18, 11 is NOTHING, but I realize that's not necessarily the norm.

Dock diving revival

Watching the chickens roost at night is pretty entertaining.  It's quite a process, with much drama and twists and turns.  It starts with the Sexies putting themselves away on the highest perch really early, then they try to hold their spot as the others trickle in. It's just amusing to watch the ever fattening chickens work their way up the rungs of the roost, trying to sidle past other birds or turn around - they are not graceful.

In the end, Parker has his own favorites that he allows on the top rung - and he makes the first cuts.  For instance, Sexier gets to stay, but Sexy gets pecked off.  Pretty really WANTS to be up there, but Parker is not fan - but he's not as offended by her as he the Pennies, he'll actually peck over the top of her to get them away.  I would say that Parker's favorites are Sexier and Prettier - who are literally the prettiest chickens, so maybe Parker is just shallow.  I also saw him chasing around Why, the baby white chicken, so who also very pretty.

The Parker Babies have their own little cuddlefest where they sleep on top of the coop - which still drives me nuts.  I'm still holding out hope they'll move over to the roost, but I'm getting more skeptical.  I'm tired scraping poop though, so something will have to be done sooner or later.  I need to get creative to figure out how to discourage them from being up there, but right now I think it's good for them to have a place to escape.  Oh, and P Diddy Puff Size continues to look EXACTLY like Parker.

All in all, chickens are doing well, laying lots of pretty eggs and being charming and entertaining.  No regrets on the UltraCoop, I like my pet chickens.

Star is doing well, I think it's been good for her to be around the adult border collies.  Today we learned to come when I call because then I'll make them all run - best border collie reward you can give.  I enjoy watching her stretch out and run too - she's made for that sort of thing.  She's one tired puppy tonight.  We're definitely coming to read each other better, she's a fun girlie. No issues with her and the dogs, they seem very comfortable with her or letting her know the rules.

Retrieve is slowly coming along, had another session today and getting to about 2-3 seconds of holding ... or shaking, as the case may be.  It amuses me that Star always has to stop for a good wrestle session mid-shaping session, she says thinking is hard.

Diligently taught Haku to nose touch a blue painters tape for his go-out target.  Got a nice strong behavior, then attempted to take him six inches back and send to it.  He immediately turned 90 degrees sideways and then happily did his nose touches.  Sigh.

Poco is a little better, but definitely quieter than she was. But she still had some good days, running in the field and looking happy, but also some not so good days.  She struggles with the new stairs on the porch, which are steeper and made of a man-made material than I think feels weird to her.  I've been carrying her down if she gets stuck.

Took Haku and Eva dock diving yesterday.  Not Eva's thing, unfortunately, but we gave it a try so now we know.  Haku still very much likes it, and was jumping farther than last time on the middle dock - but the other dock the carpet is ripped at the end and he started stuttering to miss that and lost his distance.  He still had fun though, which is the most important part. Though I managed to bring TWO toys that sunk - what are the odds?  I should order Haku a bumper so if we go again we'll be prepared.  With tassels, because apparently that's a thing.

Picture by Carol Wolfram!

USDAA nationals this week, such a LONG event. Still, exciting to follow along with the folks that are down there, and a lot more folks I know what with it being on the West coast this year. That said, I have absolutely no regrets I'm not going - have I mentioned how LONG it is?  I'm assuming with the MC classes really taking off and commiting to more difficult courses in general that there will be some fun courses this weekend.  I could be proved wrong, however.

In the meantime, just waiting for the much hyped Pineapple Express that is expected this week.  My yard is NOT ready for a deluge of rain, as it's been so dry it will turn into a mud pit, but I'm ready for rain all the same. I keep TRYING to put on a jacket, but it's still too hot.  Jackets are so HANDY with dogs, you can have all sorts of things in the pockets - I miss my fleecey jackets something fierce.  And being able to take my dogs with me on errands, I haven't been able to do that since like MAY, too hot to leave them in the car.  SO READY FOR FALL.

Look, Colton jumped!  Sort of.

Twinkle Star

There is a cuddly border collie pile going on under my chair at the moment.  Bright, Haku and Star are all curled up together - and Star is snoring. It's more than a little adorable.

Having Star here has been fascinating, just the concept that she came from Bright.  I find seeing similarities in relatives to be really intriguing as it is, throw in this new aspect and it's even more so.  There are definite pieces of Bright in Star, just in her pointy wispishness alone. Even if Star wasn't related, I would of thought she is one CUTE puppy - and just my type. I love the gazelle look in a dog, what can I say.  And of course the whole red dog thing has really grown on me after this litter.  Though I don't really even notice the red so much in Star because there is so much else going on with her - she is one unique looking girl.

Star is just unique all around, she is definitely still the same dog that she was as a puppy.  Very fun, confident and very much in her own world. I would say from what I've seen of the litter so far they seem very London-like in temperment, going back to Granny Cherry.  A very confident bunch, they seem quite content doing their own thing and living in the moment - don't seem to get hung up or worried about things. Star is not the sort of puppy that follows you around the house, but she's also quite happy to play and relax with you.  Though she did have a little freak out at the dock diving place today, I think she suddenly realized that she didn't know who the heck all these people were and had no idea where her family was.  But, luckily, her attention span in short, she got over it quickly.

Star still loves to play, and is ready to play with anything at the drop of a hat.  She's also a fabulous wrestler, she likes rambunctious physical play and she doesn't get too rough or nippy.  We've started working on shaping a retrieve, and that's moving along - though we'll see how it goes.  It took her a bit to finally start mouthing the object, but once she did figure out that I wanted her to pick it up she started growling and SHAKING the object when she picked up - which is really cute.  We'll see how she progresses,I think she'll be slower to mature like Bright was.

One thing that Star is very advanced in for her age is being a Bitch - that girl has read the manual on border collie bitchness and she takes her job seriously.  She was totally snarking at Colton today, 4 months her senior, just because she could.  And Colton was super polite, tried ignoring, appeasing, and even leaving and she would not leave him alone.  Finally he had to tell her off and she stopped with the Super Bitch routine.  I think she was resource guarding the people, Star has no lack of self esteem, that's for sure.  I don't think she'll be taknig shit from anyone.  She's been pretty good with our dogs, but my dogs tend to be good at setting clear boundaries, which she does seem to respect.  Though we'll see how things progress while she's here.

Anyway, having a lot of fun with her, still figuring her out - she's an interesting one, always has been from day one.  Right now she's really just tucked herself into Haku, they're totally spooning.  Gah, I love snuggly dogs!

Puppy fix

Star is visiting - and she's so tiny and pointy!

Surprisingly proportionate for (almost) 4 months old!

Star really loves her mom

Really loves

Bright is more into tough love

Star on the longline just in case - but found it wasn't needed

Star likes to be REALLY close to Bright.  Super close.

Giant ears

Family resemblence?

Definitely doing more of it

It has been an action packed week. Last weekend we did Fri-Sat-Sun trialing, then I taught agility Tues-Wed, then back to ANOTHER trial on Thursday yesterday.  OVERFLOWING with agility.  Bright is most definitely doing more of it.

Another UKI trial yesteday, Bright really likes it Daisy's place, she's extra sassy there.  That was where she actually first ever barked at me on course, almost a year ago.  Now it's ALMOST become normal for me to hear her - but it still makes me 'squeee!' a little inside to hear her backtalking me.  Daisy's place is just really nice all around, the equipment is nice, the surface is nice, the location is pretty - and then just fun, fast courses, nice people - really liking the UKI trials.

Tammy was the judge for this trial, which was fun.  I did have some question about whether Bright might feel the need to go say hi to her on course, but no issues.  If we are going to continue to have UKI trials in our area I probably should look into judging - though I'm just the world's SLOWEST coursebuilder, and get very nitpicky about it - that doesn't really flow well into the 10 courses in 3-4 hours scheme.  But I imagine at some point I will give it a try, as I do want to support the venue in our area.

Good courses for Bright yesterday, lots of wide open 'wheeee!' going on, which played perfectly into our extension focus at the moment.  Still have a lot of work to do in that area, but she's doing so much better.  It also helps that I take into account that she's not going to constantly check back in with me, we actually had an offcourse tunnel because I basically didn't handle it at all - and, shockingly, Bright just made an assumption and went straight ahead - what a good girl!  Slowly, ever so slowly, I'm turning her into London.

As usual, any issues we had were all me and poor handling, Bright looked fantastic.  Great weaves, contacts continue to be way more consistent, NO dropped bars - that Bright is an agility machine.  Having so much fun with Bright these days, she's loving her agility and owning the courses more and more.  We're going to feel awful bored after the UKI extravaganza ends though, so I hope we can help make more local trials happen.

Surprisingly, I'm also really liking the evening trials.  Maybe it helps that the weather is still so summer like that doing things when it's cooler just makes more sense.  Still, sticky and muggy and too hot yesteday.  Luckily we didn't run in the full sun in the outdoor arena, less lucky we ran out of daylight so did some twilight agility.  Still, we had fun, and I can blame her off course tunnel after the dogwalk on the lighting.

Let us just admire how cute and sassy Merlin's sister is

Check out that face!

A very fluffy Mr Fantastic the Beardie/BC

Pictures of dogs not doing agliity are more fun than actually doing it

So cute!

Willow is also good at making funny faces


86 degrees yesterday, in the 80s today too - it really is oppressive.  Heather's ideal temperature = 57 degrees.  That has NOT been happening, at all, for a LONG, LONG TIME.  I do hear we're getting a Pineapple Express of rain coming our way though.  And things HAVE been greening up.  Naturally, the few places in the yard that we don't want to grow grass are growing grass LIKE CRAZY.  Because that's how it always seems to work. Still waiting for Fall though, but almost just resigned to hot and stuffy being the new normal.

Carol turned me on to a potentially very interesting photography class - but why do they have to make it downtown?  I really could care less WHAT we photographing - why can't we go shoot some kids soccer competition or something?  No, let's make it complicated and cold with a big hockey game all the way downtown with no parking.  Hrmph.  Still, I've always wanted to know how you're actually SUPPOSED to shoot action photography, as opposed to what I've just made up as I went along.  Heather SHOULD go to this.  She really should.  And get her camera cleaned - it certainly needs it. And perhaps stop talking about herself in the third person.

This is a thing that happened today, could not get Bright to STOP turning away into the tunnel after the dogwalk:

It was visions of London all over again, who was infamous for anticipating a turn away into the tunnel - when that WAS not the next obstacle.  I'm assuming Bright felt the pressure of me cutting over and pushing in to get the backside as a rear into the tunnel.  Which is really not handy.  There is a host of options off that dogwalk that would include me converging on her line that do not involve turning away into a tunnel.  But, let it be said, she did that move so WELL.  So now a whole new thing to worry about with Bright's contacts.  Heh.

A worrying phase with Poco at the moment, not been a good last few days.  As many times as it has happened, it's still hard not to immediately jump to the worse case scenario.  Also, she's blowing MORE coat - which is crazy.

I did get the dogs a VERY EXPENSIVE toy. Well, let's say Bright got it for them, from her big weekend.  It's a smooth wooden ball, hollow that rattles.  It's CALLED an 'indestructaball' - and if that's not a challenge, I don't know what one is.  My dogs do love the plastic balls, but they bite and gouge the plastic, then when they push it with their noses they get bloody.  I figured wood wouldn't do this.  Maybe.

So far, the dogs approve and Eva is OBSESSED with it.  Won't call off of it. Which would made more sense if she DID anything with it, she does not push it around much but just sits there hypervenilating and gnawing at it and drooling profusely.  I think it offends her or something.

Eva is a fan of spherical things

This works too

Haku actually DOES something with the ball


Nom nom nom




This is Eva's face after I physically remove her from the ball

NW Cup

Bright officially brings home the biggest ribbon ever - it's even bigger than Bright

I have been to many a NW Cup competition in the years I've been doing agility.  Maybe not all of them, but a good portion.  I remember my first, way back with baby Fenwick, it was like our second or third trial, and it was SO COLD.  I remember the coldness of that trial to this day, and many other cold NW cups. I think my constant exposure to cold barns has given me partial immunity to the elements at this point, but it was certainly not cold this weekend.  Admittedly, our last trial up at Ridgefield was way worse, but it was uncomfortably hot and stuffy in the afternoons - and that is not something that should be an issue in October.

Though, now that I come to think about it - didn't the NW Cup used to be in JANUARY?  Okay, I don't think my memory should be relied on for anything, and it's pretty much ALWAYS cold in January.  Used to be the October trial was the Black CAT trial, I think, and there were costumed runs and such.  But it was still cold, either trial.

So, yeah, Bright actually won the NW Cup this year - which I think was more by default than anything else, really. I hear the Master's standard course was a killer today, and the Advanced courses this weekend ... well, they certainly let Bright and I practice our 'just go straight ahead' mentality we were working on this weekend.  Still, super proud of the Brightness, I always think she deserves a big ribbon.  Got second in the steeplechase finals too - she had a good time this weekend.

Well, she mostly had a good time this weekend, she started getting really weird this afternoon and was back to being dramatic about things.  Which is disappointing as she had been feeling so confident, but certanily not anything unusual for her.  I tried not to overdo it with her this weekend, as she did have the UKI on Friday as well, but it may just have been too much for her overall, hard to say.  Hopefully she can regain her confidence again.

I know it was too much for me this weekend, just the hours.  I have never learned to love all day agility.  I am good in the 4 to 6 hour range, but then after that it's just too much.  It was too much back when I was just running Fenwick, and it's still too much for me now.  And that is the thing about USDAA, the days are long and there's not much you can do about it.  Back when I was just running Fenwick we would enter one day and then limited classes.  Still, you were there from before the sun went up until after the sun went down - and when you are just doing limited classes, it's just a lot of waiting.  And often by the time it was actually time to run, both Fenwick and I would just be done.  It took 2 years to get him out of advanced, with the limited trials and only entering one day.

So, yeah, maybe the Master Challenge classes would have been fun to run, but they were both offered at the very end of the day, when it was super hot in the arena and Heather had been done many hours before.  Luckily we got to run interesting courses at UKI.  And it was fun to run Bright on the big open straight forward courses - but, yeah, USDAA always seems to leave me exhausted and frustrated.

Do want to get Bright adjusted, I have wanted to do that since she had the puppies, as I know that can put stress on the body.  And then we just have been doing a lot of agility.  Tammy's person is on vacation until the middle of the month, and the lady in Newberg never responded - I have bad luck with this sort of thing.

Bright is like, "That ribbon is so HUGE!"

Getting her bitch on

The tiny Brightness just gets a little more perfect every day.  And perhaps other people don't find Bright's 'ugly face' as adorable as I do, but it's the sign of a much larger change in her.  In every female is a bitch just waiting to come out, and Bright is getting in touch with her inner bitch more and more these days.  She arbitrarily decided to tell all sorts of innocently polite boys where to go today, and they all had this look like, "Woah, I'm sorry - I had no idea you were bitch - I'll step back over here and pretend not to see you!"  And that is the sign that she's doing it right.  Which doesn't mean that she doesn't sometimes need to simmer down a bit, as while she's usually quite content with a dirty look and a raised lip, if she feels the need she goes in like a crazed snapping turtle.  Needs some work in that department - but I LOVE Bitchy Bright.  I knew she was in there, and more and more she's choosing to stand her ground and be bold, rather than be passive and submissive.  Girl power!

Agility continues to be more and more fun with her as well, as she is sassy and barking at me on course and just being more of an active partner as opposed to along for the ride.  She enjoyed the border collie charged environment of USDAA more at this trial than she has before.  Her last USDAA trial was back in March, when we did one day to finish off her Starters title - and she got scared by the child leash running that ran up behind her and grabbed the leash and she wouldn't run.  So, yeah, it's been like a year that all we've needed was one more judge for her stupid starters title, she's now officially all in advanced - where she will probably be for at least another year, probably more.  Going to 1.5 USDAA trials a year doesn't get you far.

It was tough to get out of bed this morning, the UKI trial was super fun, and I knew the USDAA show was not going to be able to compare, especially considering the classes we were in.  But I wanted to give Bright a chance to just go-go-go, and that we did.  We were technically entered in the Masters Challenge class, but let me complain about another ridiculously hot day for OCTOBER, but the late afternoon it was turning into an oven in there again and I had already been there for way too long.

So lots of good with our go, I don't think she knocked any bars today with the three runs we did.  Tried what I knew would be a tough dogwalk exit in gamblers and she didn't get it - so work to do there.  Missed her weave entrance in steeplchase, where the course went 'jump, weaves' - dork.  Just had fun with her today, though USDAA not doing it for me, as there are so many games.  And, no, you don't have to do them - but there is then an awful lot of down time.  Also didn't enter grand prix, as those courses tend to be pretty uninspired, and it's really expensive. I have no interest in going to USDAA nationals, so no real motivation.  Then the master challeng classes are always at the end of the day, and USDAA days are LONG.  Had way more fun at the UKI trial, and at least with AKC I can fairly easily predict when my runs will be so the days are not super long.  I know some people like doing 8 to 12 hours of agility - I do not.

UKI Octoberfest

I will be very sad when all the UKI trials go away after the US Open.  Really, this is the Golden Age of UKI at the moment, next year I hear they're going to start requiring games Qs for nationals, and that means trials are about to become much longer and much less fun. Right now though, it's just a small, fun group of good handlers that I enjoy watching, and, yes, they even train in the ring, but in a fun way.  The first UKI trials I went to in the beginning were AWFUL, no one even attempted to run the courses, it was just a really long, really boring fun match.  But right now, this is exactly what I want an agility trial to be like, pretty much it's two groups, fun baby dogs and talented experienced dogs - who can complain about that?

Bright was more than a little awesome today, while I always thought that as she matured she would get more animated and confident in agility, it still amazes me to see Sassy Bright on course.  She was barking and driving and having so much fun - and who wouldn't enjoy getting to play with that dog all day?  Of course, the more enthusiastic she gets the more worried I am about her swinging in the other direction when her hormones kick in again.  This is a very common issue with intact girls, so we'll see.  Maybe having a litter magically fixed any heat related hormonal nonsense. Wouldn't that be nice?  Right now she's just feeling fancy free after her litter and more naked every day.

Lots of good from the Brightness today, just little things which were, as usual, mostly my fault. It was handy as the titling courses were VERY SIMILAR to the Masters Heat classes, which basically meant you got a second try at things, which was both good and bad.  In one case she did a great push in the first run, but actually did NOT push to that same backside the next run - which actually sort of impresses me, Bright not taking a backside is always a cause for celebration.  Also had a turn away into a tunnel off a dogwalk, which we had practiced once recently, but she did not read it AT ALL the first run - but nailed it the second run.

Still more bars than she's ever had recently, which I can feel it's very different for her as she's moving out more and it's making jumping a hugely different effort than it was before, especially at 22 which is 3 inches above her withers.  However, I do want to get her adjusted, but I've had no luck getting an appointment so far.  Harder than one might think.

Really though, we had a blast, very much enjoying these trials and looking forward to the next one.  USDAA this weekend, but I don't think it will compare.  Especially as we're mostly there to finally get that extra judge to move up to advanced - so stupid.

Thanks to Susan for getting us some video!

The Octoberfest that Daisy puts on is really cute and fun, with a tiny trial it's so much more relaxing to do novel things like that.  Not going to happen at a big trial - I very much enjoyed photographing the folks that dressed up:

More festive pics here!

Bright Puppies - 15 Weeks!

Bright's puppies are almost 16 weeks old, which, let's be fair, is rather an awkward age for most puppies. All giant heads and gawky legs. DareDevil continues to have some serious ear adventures, and just the shape of his ears perplexes me. That's not the shape of a prick ear, or a rose ear ... it's like a bunny ear. She doesn't seem to think they'll end up prick, but I just can't quite visualize exactly what they're supposed to fold into, but they certainly don't look natural prick either. The Sparklepuppies are all about being mysterious what they'll look like when they're grown.

That is a Bright look on his face - but those ears he did not get from her

Aw, the puppy awkwards - but he's got a lot more substance than the tris, I think

Star will be staying with us in a couple weeks - so soon there will be more Star pictures than you can shake a stick at

Creed has quite a few amazing puppy tricks at this point - and some long, luxurious butt hair

Puppy naps

Larissa manages to be the only puppy who doesn't look like she got Bright's tiny pinhead - but time will tell

Puppy sizes at 15 weeks:

Star: 16.4 lbs
Larissa: 16.6 lbs (15.25 inches)
Glow: 22.4 lbs (17 inches)
Creed: 18.6 lbs (16 inches)

Edit to add Bright at 15 weeks (definitely still in her 'tick' phase):

Obedience determination

I don't know if the universe is trying to say something or what, but I swear I keep running into maddening roadblocks trying to do obedience trials.  Today I attempted to enter an upcoming AKC trial and it was just a nightmare of issues. They do NOT make it easy - at all.  I finally did send off an entry (we won't even talk about the online entry attempt), guessing about how to tell them what I wanted to enter and how much to pay - as this information is not in the premium.  Then it's all connected to the conformation ring - which just makes me feel dirty (and what the entry form is obviously biased toward).  Theoretically, Haku will go to his second AKC obedience trial this month.  Well, hopefully.

Obedience lesson today, Haku was high as a kite after our week of inactivity.  He was loud and crazy and eventually just started obsessing on stalking Eva as he didn't know what to do with himself.  Underexercised Haku is not a good thing for obedience.  But fun, always fun.  Certainly EXCITED.  Discussed the go-out retrain plan, and I think I'm going to start with a nose touch to tape or some other non-toy-like object.  He certainly likes his targets, but as they are little frisbees to him I think this doesn't help with the arcing.  So the plan is train the nose touch to 'Target' and the ever so slowly work backwards from there - using the waist leash if necessary to make sure he doesn't get a chance to practice the outrun.  I think this plan is much more likely to get him to understand the essence of the behavior.

Lovely broadjump today, just did one and really nice front - so we stopped with that.  Helps when he knows his toy in the ground somewhere, he can be VERY careful when he wants to be.  Recall looks nice, finishes are good, stand for exam is solid.  Figure eight is looking MUCH better.  Practiced heeling on leash ... which he hasn't done since his LAST obedience trial.  Forging somewhat on the halts, crowding on the left turns.  However, there is a big issue with Heather in all that - when I anticipate or feel that he's forging, I both try to arc out out of his way - not helpful.  If I TRY to get him to crowd so I can mark it, suddenly he stopped doing it.  Hm.  Also, if I'm very deliberate with my 90 degree turns he reads it really well. I think I was just trying to 'help' him way too much when he got excited.  Actually challenging him more gave a much better result.

Dumbell continues to need work, mouthing on pickup today - boo.  Yet if I work on it just an exercise right by me, he's very soild with his pick-ups.  I continue to wonder about teeth issues, but Ellie thinks that's just an excitement issue when there is distance involved.  So placing the dumbell up on objects to help him be more thoughtful about the initial pick-up, it's been on our homework before but I didn't really get to it.  Jumping today was SUPER early, but confident.  Also, had some scooting when we were practicing the recall over the high jump for his upcoming UKC show.  Hopefully he'll have both his AKC and UKC titles and we can move on to Open for next year.  I'm even contemplating entering Rose City with him, he is a dog that can deal with that environment, I think.

Though it was a little crazy, Haku actually broke his stay on the table and joined Bright and I on course when we were practicing agility this week.  And it was no confusion that it was his turn, he made a choice and wanted to be OUT THERE.  This is something that he's never done, though to be fair he's often broken his stay to herd us around the course, this time he literally just joined in and started DOING the course.  It is a side of Haku I haven't really seen, but I'm seeing more of it lately.  One of the reasons I decided to give Haku a revival trial is that suddenly he was offering agility equipment out in the yard when we were out and about - something he never did even when we were doing agility.  Almost all my other dogs will just go randomly take agility equipment for fun - but Haku never did ... until recently.  So I did run Haku through the jumpers course (which was a nice open AKC course, so it worked well for him), and it wasn't too bad.  Still, not something he needs to be doing often, but I do think Haku has found a different relationship with agility than he used to, it's interesting how dogs can change.

Eva was also somewhat crazed for the obedience lesson, but that side of her makes me happy to see. It was a mixed bag with her this week, with her sometimes happy and wanting to play, and sometimes sad and hiding.  She sort of forgot what the broad jump was for, but then remembered, and her open exercises continue to be more consistent than Haku's - though still can be wide on her fronts.  Very happy and having a great time though, the obedience arena continues to be a happy place for her.

Bright actually has much less hair at this point than this picture taken a couple weeks ago - I prefer to think it should just make her more aerodynamic for her three days of agility this weekend