Flowers!



https://www.ukagilityinternational.com/DynamicContent.aspx?PageName=transfer+levels

I just heard that UKI will no longer be allowing lateral move-ups to championship, which means my interest in UKI is over. I was looking forward to running Navarre in UKI, but if he has to start in the lowest level he won't be able to run actual interesting courses for years. Well, actually, ever, as I have no interest in doing games. And just a bad move on their part anyway, we can barely get anyone to come to UKI trials as it is, and pretty much the only reason to go to UKI over other venues is their more interesting courses. Which people won't get to run unless they go all the way through the lower levels. So what's the point?

So, yeah, disappointing. But after reading a lot of posts lately about why people do agility, I really have realized I'm in the extreme minority of people that want to go to trials to just ... do agility. It is weird to me that apparently the majority of people that do agility don't actually go to trials to do agility, they go to trials to get 'things'. Whether that be titles, points, national Qs or whatever, people are pretty blatent about if there isn't something 'in it for them', why would they even bother to run it?  Very much feeling there is not a venue out there for me, and never will be. Luckily I very much enjoy training, because going to trials seems pretty pointless.

I AM going to one this weekend though! It's been awhile, and I have no plans to enter anything this summer. I was looking forward to the UKI trial in September with Navarre, and I suppose I can still do that - but the wind has definitely been taken out of my sails about encouraging UKI in our area. After Navarre is ready to move on from Novice we'll no longer be doing UKI. Which probably means that one trial, considering how often they happen these days. This weekend is AKC, one ring trial, with premier - so hopefully some fun courses. Who knows what Bright might do, but hopefully she'll have fun.

Crazy weather we've been having! Just loved the stormy, Spring-like weather we had today. Perfect temperature, a little exciting rain and lots of romping with dogs. Being out in the tall field with the grass rippling in the wind - such a gorgeous day!


Getting better at hiding his nose in public


The daisies are sparse this year, but if you hunt them out you can find them


Sauve and sophisticated


Taking pictures in the field is not easy at this point, the dogs have to jump up to be seen


You can't see Eva at all in the tall field


The hugging is getting a little less awkward!

Haku and sister!



Are these not the two cutest dogs in the universe? Got to meet Haku's sister Twiggy today - ZOMG, I LOVE her! She's totally a female version of Haku, she has the sweet snuggly side along with the intensity and just GOODNESS. Wow was it fun to see them together, definitely a matching set - and, truly, a cuter pair I can't imagine. But I'm a little biased. ;-) I would take a Twiggy in a heartbeat - at least, the Twiggy she is today - I know she's come a long way over the years since Kathy got her.


Zoom zoom!


Did I mention how cute they were together?


That face!


Matching runners


Happy girl


Two WONDERFUL dogs

I did let Haku do a bit of running out in the field with Twiggy, though he wasn't doing anything with intensity. And in obedience we did a bit of low height jumping for Open exercises. Knock on wood, he seems okay tonight. Everyone around here wants him to get better, without his energy no one knows what to do with themselves outside.

As for obedience, it is true that Open seems to be all the exercises that make Haku HIGH. Jumping, retrieving, recalling - much less thoughtful Haku. Needs some refreshers with the dumbell and a cleaner pick-up. And it would help if I could throw it, there are really bouncy mats at this facility - I used to think I was a good thrower. Not at that place, anyway. We worked some article proofing by putting out tennis balls, treats in a towel and a target with the articles. He did pick up the tennis ball to hold while he searched for the article, but spit it out when he found it, then he ignored the balls. Treats he didn't really notice - but the target, now that got him. Haku LOVES him some target action! But he finally agreed to leave it behind. Spread out the articles into a 5 x 5 grid makes a big difference, harder for him.

Meanwhile, played around just a little bit more with the dogwalk in Navarre's puppy class today - adding the stop is definitely not going as smoothly as I hoped! Today he was all about stopping and didn't want to run - heh. We'll get there, still plan to work the lowered dogwalk. Also need to work 270s, he wasn't getting a push out when I tried to move away laterally. Actually runnings things .... sometimes it goes well, other times it's a train wreck. You never know what you'll get with a baby dog!


Giant goober puppy crashes the party (and, yes, they're all playing with a yogurt lid)

Cocky Teenage Boy



Very much enjoying our continued mild weather, it feels like Oregon again! I could get on board with a summer like this. Now, the traffic in Portland isn't getting any better, unfortunately. Haku had a 4:30pm appointment at the rehab place in Portland today - ZOMG. Getting there wasn't TOO bad, getting back was CRAZY.

Haku has one more appointment next Monday for a recheck and last laser treatment - fingers crossed this solves the issue. I'm continuing to keep him on house arrest as well, for as much as that means. Haku is always really good for the laser, and then afterwards he gets a treat from the jar on the small counter - which he JUMPED UP ON today from a standstill. The vet techs were impressed.

I continue to be on an overwhelming love kick for Haku and Bright, I just adore them SO MUCH. Which of course I always have, but when I see them I just get this rush of SUPER LOVE at the moment. Good lord I love those two, they have a very similar quality to them that is just very personal and intense. Very fortunate to have them in my life, they are my little shadows. Not sure why I'm just SO super sappy about them at the moment, but we're getting in a lot of love.

Bright got to do a little agility today and she was just smiling and wiggling and being so fricken adorable. She knows the run vs stop game on the dogwalk very well now and loves to play it. Navarre ... well, not there yet. His stopped performance on a training board or separate dogwalk ramp looks GREAT, very happy with his speed and position, I can run past, send ahead, move laterally - he's GOT IT. But on the full height dogwalk, no sign of that behavior at all. If he does stop it's sort of slow and sticky - because quite clearly he has NO idea what he's supposed to be doing. And I keep playing with it, changing approaches, waiting for that lightbulb to turn on - but not yet. Occasionally he will just go do it, right into position like he does on the lower boards and I'm like, okay, we're maknig progress, but then he's running off or stopping mid-ramp and looking at me like, "WTF?"

He went through this even with the teeter too, so I'm not worried, it's just funny how he's not one of Nature's Generalizers. Our best performance seemed to be actually starting him on the ground next to the downramp and sending him ahead so he just ran up and hopped into position - now THAT he could do. So maybe that will help, but I think my next step is lowering the dogwalk and seeing what he does with that. He'll get it, and once we get that one out of the way I'll be happy. The pieces are there, he just hasn't put them together yet.

My goals for July are to start teaching him to weave, gradually move up to 14/16 on the jumps and finally teach him to rear cross. Then in August move up to 18/20 inches on the jumps, introduce the aframe and proof the weave poles. Which means that he should be tentatively ready for his soft, FEO debut at the UKI trial at our arena in September. Then thinking about his AKC debut in October in Central Point when he's 18 months. There is a lot of 'what if' in that schedule though, we'll see what actually happens. Almost an agility dog! Maybe. Eventually. Hopefully. Today, as he would just run around all the jumps in a pinwheel, I had to wonder.

Puppy continues to mature, despite his small, and very publically discussed, testicles. His head is getting bigger and he just thinks he's all that and a bag of chips as he blatently marks over everywhere Bright pees. He's a cocky little teenager, but also starting to be more reliable. Never had a dog I had to have on leash as much Navarre, but he is much more trustworthy these days. He's getting to be a good boy, but it's a different experience than Londan and Haku when they were intact. London was just all about GIRLS, and he got neutered relatively young as his brain was just elsewhere (and we had enough issues as it was) - but he wasn't at all MANLY. Haku was a really easy boy when he was intact, he wasn't manly either - though he could spot another intact boy from across a crowded room and wanted start shit. Navarre is just going to be COCKY though, and not in a mature dignified way. He will require more management, but I don't think he'll be bad dog - just not easy like Haku. The plan is to keep him intact unless his behavior indicates otherwise though, so I'll need to sit him down and explain about behaving himself.

Hard to believe my puppy is so grown up! He's a brave boy, this morning I heard him roar in the fenced yard and looked out to see what his issue was - coyote had come out of the field onto the mowed area in the back and Navarre was having none of it - that coyote turned and ran. Now, it's not something I really want Navarre to do - but I admire his balls. Eva and Navarre are the only ones of my dogs that will challenge a coyote, and Eva is still sensible enough that she will only do it through a fence. As Navarre has done it in person, I know he thinks he's invincible - and you have to admire that kind of bravery, even while thinking it's an incredibly stupid thing to do.


Navarre is still working on covering his nose in public - if you ask him to, he goes and jumps on Bright and hugs her (luckily she doesn't seem to mind - I don't know how he gets away with this shit sometimes)


Rosie's toy continues to get around at our house


I only make Fenwick wear the Back on Track coat at night - otherwise he thinks he can't move


Rugged frisbee has held up to a lot of this sort of thing


London is so happy now that Carol gave him a full groin shave for summer!


Interesting that even as baby chicks, some of the girls were bigger and some were smaller - and that is still true, here is a 'big' girl next to a 'small' girl, notice how even their combs are different

Happy Solstice!



Oh yeah, it's all downhill from here! If only that were true, so much Summer left to go - and I'm pretty sure my a/c is broken. Here's to many lovely summer evenings!

So many hairy puppies!



Well, Fenwick is much better, but still gimpy. Other than that, he seems to be feeling perfectly normal, and really pissed he doesn't get to go run. Between him and Haku it's Bambi eyes all over the place around here. And barking, those two have lungs.

I still worry about Fenwick, about how it could be something more serious. Like he has a tumor on his spine or something. Fenwick feels incredibly THICK these days, which could just be old age, or just being fat or could be something else. And, no, I don't really want to know. He seems to be feeling good, having a great time, eating well - if he has something seriously wrong with him there is nothing I can do. So I prefer to live in ignorance.

It is true, everyone is suddenly FAT around here. Which is what always happens, it sneaks right up on me. First they all get skinny, so I increase their food, and they still seem skinny, and then one day I'm like, "Damn Bright, where are your ribs?" I swear, there is no inbetween, they went from skinny to fat overnight. Bright and Fenwick are particularly prone to suddenly sausaging.

Navarre got to go herding again this weekend with Carol, he's doing better! He hasn't quite gotten the point yet, I think. You know, that his job is to bring the sheep to the person and keep them there.  But he's not busting up the sheep as much, changing directions and getting off the sheep a little more. Slowing down has not occurred to him yet. Then on the other side of the equation, sister Dove is super stalky and gets 'stuck', it's hard to get her to move. Funny that they're so different, but both doing so much better at acknowledging that there is a person involved in this exercise. You know, sometimes.

We have a tentative goal though, to get the pups ready for some very basic herding tests this Fall. Keeping in mind that I've never seen an AKC herding trial, it sounds like they have a good chance of doing some of the basic pre-trial stuff. And Haku should be able to do more, theoretically, if I can get him back into working shape. So something new I've never done - that's always fun! Need much more exposure to sheep, which we're working on, and find an instructor that will work well for us. Navarre thinks it's pretty cool, and that's even with a LOT of pressure he's been handling with the initial exposure of getting him to behave himself around the sheep. Can't even imagine doing anything like that with Navarre or London.


Dove is CRAZY stylish - Navarre is not ;-)

Back to agility, have had several sessions over the weekend introducing his stopped contact to the dogwalk board. Which ended up being more complicated due to the fact that when I put the ramp on a table and asked Navarre to run it - he had no idea! So first we had to fix that, then we looked at turns on the low board, and THEN we started looking at the stop. Which, as expected, was much harder for him to do with the actual dogwalk. LOTS of running off and looking confused, which meant sessions using the dreaded FOOD to solidify the behavior. But then he got it on the low table and board, then went to the high table and had to start again - but good to see he understands his running behavior a LOT better with more slope. So, yeah, this looked pretty good, but then with the actual dogwalk - nope, had to start all over. Ha! So still working on it, but certainly didn't hurt to go back to proofing his running behavior with the low boards, he used to be SO consistent - it's actually kind of a relief to see that he's not anymore.

Went and visited with Carol's Briard puppies again, they're almost 6 weeks old and obviously WAY more fun than the last time we had visited. They are PAINFUL though - border collie puppies don't bite like that! They did settle down after a while though and were very sweet and people focused. The difference I think is they were CRAZY into food, while my puppies really had no interest in food at that age. The puppy that picked out when they were born was still my favorite, further cementing my perhaps unwise idea that you just KNOW.


Obviously a future agility star


Being desensitized to being sat on


Look, my favorite girl already knows how to hug!


This boy was the SWEETEST


Group recall!


Such fierce puppies!


My girl again - look at those GLORIOUS ears! Who would ever want to cut those perfect ears?


Once again, my pink pick girl is very fierce


Such well behaved puppies!


Ears away!

Broken Fenwick

Fenwick is broken, and that is never good with a dog that is almost 16. We were out running around, he was his normal happy, loud, frisky self, saw him go around the corner of the house and then 10 seconds later he comes back around the corner on three legs. I didn't hear anything, no idea what happened, but I was hopeful he would walk it off - he does occasionally tweak himself but usually is fine by the next day. This was more extreme though, non-weight bearing.

On examination he doesn't do anything to indicate anything broken, I do get a slight response from folding the leg up towards his body, but nothing extreme. He's putting a little more weight on it tonight, but not much, he's a sad looking sight. Not that he will stop wandering around and trying to bounce around for his dinner. But after metacam and resting, still not weight bearing.

Poor little guy, he's wearing a Back on Track jacket and he HATES it. The good news is that he thinks he can't really walk with it on, so it stops him from wandering around looking for trouble. Unless there is some dramatic improvement overnight I'll probably end up seeing about getting him in to the vet. Though god knows what they're going to do about it. I can't help thinking of like when older people break their hip - it's just so hard to heal and then can bring on a host of other issues.

Navarre got to be demo dog for classes today - it's just so novel to have a dog that can do this again! Bright is happy to hand over the torch, there is nothing she hates more than being stared at by strangers. And Navarre can do front sides of jumps again! We're continuing to very much enjoy our foundation proofing class:



After class they had a little contact board there so I decided to see what he could do with his 2o/2o with a toy - WOW, he looked great! Sending, running past, recalling. Admittedly we did work with this when he was younger, but super impressed how fast he's progressed. Really, at this point we're about ready to add it onto the dogwalk - kind of scary though, I don't want to break the running! But I can get away with the running all the time with Bright, Navarre's stride is just too big, and he's like turning an aircraft carrier once he gets up to steam. The plan is to take the dogwalk downramp onto the table and then go from there. Fingers crossed.

Haku is doing well with his laser treatments and home exercises. Slightly increased his activity, though still no hard running. So hard to refuse those bambi eyes of his! But, knock on wood, so far he's continued sound. Today I let him herd some chickens for a while. I must say these chickens are crazy friendly - and snuggly! They like to sit on my lap and be petted. It's kind of freaky, but very novel. They are good chickens! I'm trying to remember how old they are now. 3 months? It was funny how one day they were peeping, literally the next day they suddenly sounded like chickens.


Speckly!


Definitely not afraid of Haku


So hard to tell him no!


Bender looking handsome as usual


Bright's grey hair in her ears gets more adorable all the time


Shockingly, Eva has a the toy


Who had the toy first?


Starting to look more manly ... but still ever so goofy

Happy Birthday Sparklepuppies!

Sparklepuppies are 2 years old today! It's been a difficult year with Star's epilepsy and rehoming down to Karen, just incredibly hard for Mary. I love that little dog so much, so much personality, so totally STAR - I miss her, as Mary does too.

Down in California she's made new doggie friends and there are lots of people around to keep an eye on her. Apparently she's a big fan of attacking the water bucket:


So, yeah, she's most definitely still Star. ;-) She often hangs out with London's dad Mike, which is adorable, and Mike has the same exasperated look that London gets when he's being pestered by young obnoxious dogs. Such good boys, both of them.

Seizure-wise she's been up and down. When she went to California and started new medications she was much improved, but unfortunately once they've built up a tolerance that changes everything. She's still doing better than she was at this point, but it's definitely uncontrolled. Her quality of life is good, she's happy and her recovery has been much better than it was as well. Don't know what the future holds for my little Star, but I think she's in the best place for her right now with Karen. Just taking it day by day.

With everything happening with Star I'm so grateful the other pups are doing so well. I couldn't have asked for better homes for any of them, they are all loved for who they are. They all ended up with amazing trainers that have done such a nice job with them, they look fantastic as they're starting to mature. Very excited for their future, but more importantly it just makes me so happy that they all love to play with their people. Very fortunate to have such great homes for all of them. I'd love to see them all again in person someday, DareDevil was up for the NW Regional recently - very close! They've all grown into amazing dogs from those little adorable puppies. Star's epilepsy just breaks my heart, as Mary and Star should have been there with all the other pups.


The girls

Daniel made such an adorable video of Larissa for her birthday:

20 inches!



Brought the manners minder to the arena to work on Navarre's turns off the dogwalk - but forget to bring the remote, so that made it harder. I still used it though, as he really just uses it as a target rather than a food dispenser. And, yeah, we need work! He has a very specific pattern he uses to hit intentionally - and if he doesn't it's not good at all. So we played with that, not super happy with it, but some good, some bad, some inbetween - which just means he was getting a lot of good feedback about what IS rewarded, and what isn't.

However, compared to his normal reinforcement with the dogwalk straight off (which is very high), this was not so much. And as we were only looking at the dogwalk downramps, the jumps around were set at 20 inches. And when Navarre wasn't being rewarded enough for turns off the dogwalk, he started going straight - and over the 20 inch jumps. Which surprised the heck out of me, as he has shown no comprehension that bigger jumps are for jumping - he's always run underneath them. Anyway, the first time I did actually reward him as his contact was beautiful, if not the direction I was hoping for. After that he was just all about offering the 20 inch jumps, which he found way more fun then turns off of dogwalks. The good news, his jumping looked great! Comfortable with really lovely form. I certainly hope it wasn't a fluke but it made me hopeful he's going to be a nice jumper. At some point I should teach him how to jump - or maybe he'll just magically figure it out on his own.

Worked some pushes and pulls into the weave channel today, and some more severe rear crosses. He couldn't do the MOST severe though, and then he started missing the soft sided entry by going to the OUTSIDE, which was impressive that he was thinking so hard about it. Also closed the poles just a little, probably open about 6 inches. I think I'm about done with the channel weaves, I don't want to run him through open channels too much and I don't want to obsess about entries as I do think the 2x2s are so nice for entries. I think I'll start actually teaching him to weave for real next month. We can still do more proofing with the channels, but I'm pretty happy with his weave foundation as it is.

Next big project is going to be putting the optional stop on the dogwalk, I think. Started to work some rear feet behavior again with a variety of objects. Also brought out a board in the basement which he'll stop on, but it's not a real dynamic behavior. I just have to remember that Navarre doesn't do anything with a lot of enthusiasm when he's learning and when it's for food. Once he's more confident with the behavior we'll add a toy and take it on the road. I have faith it will all turn out in the end.

Now a dog that is overflowing with enthusiasm for 2o/2o is Haku, it's crazy to go from working methodical Navarre to crazy Haku - it's like he's on cocaine. Haku LOVES his 'Hike' go-out. We've only worked in the basement but he's flying across the room to flip around and stick a rear foot (or both rear feet!) on the wall. It's fricken adorable. He's also been suspiciously straight and confident with this go-out, even though there is no target whatsoever - how does that work?

I am super happy with Haku's directed jumping progress, such a great feeling when Haku seems to know what the hell he's doing (finally). Go-outs look great and his new jumping signals have been really successful. I know in new places it's not going to look as good, but at home and at both obedience classes he looks fantastic. We did run into an issue when we did our signals with the jumps today, which we haven't done in forever. The first time he did go over a jump on the recall. So something to work on. Signals were a little shakey tonight in class, but he was fricken HIGH. He's still on house arrest and he is SO ready to run again.

Assuming Haku continues to improve physically, I have a tentative plan for returning to trialing in August for an indoor, air conditioned UKC trial in Open. Then back to AKC Utility in September, I hear there is a fun trial in St Helens, I believe? That's the plan at the moment - subject to change!

How much do I love Haku (lots!)



I'm just continuing to have a ridiculous amount of Haku love lately. All my dogs are special, but Haku is just such a pure soul, and so devoted and loving - and he always has been, from day one. He really is an amazing dog and I feel so lucky that he came into my life. And there is probably something about the whole 7 years old thing - everything is so easy at this age. I wish dogs could be stay seven forever - they are just not with us long enough.

Another laser treatment for Haku today. He is, of course, a very good boy about it all - but I don't think I've ever had a dog actually seem to react to the treatments. Haku definitely seems to feel SOMETHING, his little eyes get big and worried - but only when they do his wrists, not his paws. And then he sheds all over the room like it's going out of style. We've been diligently working our home exercises, there are just two little ones, so I hope they help. I went ahead and ordered him some Back on Track wrist wraps as well - can't hurt, right? Though I don't know if they're going to fit, I got the smallest size they had and that was still like an inch bigger than his actual wrist. Who are they making these for, giant mutant dogs? We all miss having Haku out and about, hopefully he can get back to action soon. The cats are VERY well herded at this point.

At the seminar last weekend Bright did not want to run her dogwalk, only stop. Which I didn't want to argue about it there, so we worked on it today. Took quite a bit to get her to run again - Bright and her unpredictable contacts. But a good reminder I should really get to teaching Navarre the optional stop NOW instead of trying to put it in 4 years later. Much harder then.

I did do a little with the dogwalk with Navarre today, straight off looks great, turns not so much - which I've said, how many times at this point? So we actually WORKED on turns - shocking thought. Dogwalk has taken a back seat lately, obviously needs some love. His teeter looked GREAT though, hadn't looked at that since we broke it (and somewhat fixed it) a couple weeks ago. This was a more straightforward set up and I was really happy with his confidence and speed. Looked at rear crosses from all angles into the channels and those looked great too. We're running out of things to do with channels! Still need to work entries from hard angles and proof more exits though.

Right now our big focus continues to be low height baby sequencing and solidifying his trained cues and commitment. When he's a bit older we'll start looking at the weaves, aframe, proofing the dogwalk and jump training. All of which I'm not entirely sure how I want to train. So obviously in no rush there. But we've done the foundation work of all of that, so we're not entirely starting from scratch.

Baby dogs are fun!

Good for the Soul



Very much enjoyed our trip up north for the Justine seminar. Turned out to be just such a beautiful weekend of perfect weather, the location was just gorgeous and serene, the agility was inspiring and the people were great. Just felt good to be immersed in agility for a weekend, not thinking of anything else, in a very novel location.

Really enjoy Justine and the system just suits me so well. Straightforward and clear, it makes complicated things so easy. Except, maybe, throwbacks - I still suck at throwbacks. But at least I know my issue is how very, very late I've been doing them. Which doesn't seem to change my behavior much, but it's a start. And, yes, I'll admit that, sometimes, they are the right choice, even over a threadle.

Several things added to the overall happy feel of the weekend, the first of which is Bright acted pretty much perfectly normal. I made sure to warn Justine about her odd behavior, which is a surefire way to make sure she didn't do any of it. Can't get through anything in practice, but this stuff, no problem. She had a few odd things, such as continuously not bending for tough weavepole entrances and a few blantant 'cross right in front of me to spontateously threadle' incidents - but, for the most part, the issues were all mine. As usual. Truly though, so werid that she just seemed so ... normal. And happy, she loves it there and remembers everything and our routine of going to the pool afterwards, she just goes and does it all herself. We had a lot of fun, and a lot of that had to do with me not taking her easiness for granted!

Then there was the puppy, while he seemed quite confident on the practice jump, the first time I tried running him in the seminar itself he was pretty overwhelmed and distracted by the other dogs and people. I was happy he stayed with me and tried a few things, but not as confident as he was at the Desiree seminar. Didn't recognize the dogwalk either at first. However, we played with the dogwalk at lunch and he remembered how to do it (not so much with turns, but straight looked great!). Then we had lots of working sessions throughout the weekend where he got more and more confident and more and more focused and able to, well, actually do agility!

By the end of the seminar they were taking down the course around him while he had his last turn and he couldn't care less, he was just into the agility! I was impressed with his skills for the most part, his threadles looked fantastic and he got through some fairly tricky exercises by the end of the weekend. Well, assuming it didn't have too many frontsides - Navarre developed a weird habit of running around jumps if I'm ahead of him on course last week - and it stuck. Not always, but it's very deliberate when he does. Backsides and threadles, no problem though - heh. Very much a baby dog, but so happy to see him progress - he's growing up.

And, oh, is he ever growing up - this weekend he really decided he's a MAN. A leg lifting, pee licking, chattering, posturing MALE. All of that sort of happened recently, my little puppy is becoming a rather cocky sex crazed teenager. Hurrah? Just not used to it, he's been such a mild mannered dork. Oh, such a teenager.

Bright and Navarre did pretty well with traveling. Bright was really easy, no issues with pottying, eating, sleeping or anything else - she's finally become easy to travel with! Navarre also did fairly well, though took a little while to settle down in the RV at night. They were great being in the car together, and actually were not too obnoxious when I took the other to go play, which was a worry. Navarre did a great job listening off leash and by the end of the weekend I had no worries about him running off to harass another dog. Not that I got cocky about that, it IS Navarre, after all.

Just a fun weekend of agility, I love how many fun exercises and courses we get through with Justine. Always something I want to try and see if we can do it, always fun to watch. And being a group of folks that are familiar with how Justine trains for the most part, it's more about running than long theoretical talks. Both dogs got plenty of fun agility and I hope that we can go again next year - my type of agility. So far the Justine stuff seems to be working well with Navarre, I am a big fan of trained cues.

I even had a visit from my brother over the weekend, it was his birthday this week. I had a dream we went to this crazy sci-fi convention and I had one of those moments in the dream where I realized that he was gone and I made me him hold my hand. He thought I was ridiculous, of course - but it was good to hang out with him and see him again - and to actually appreciate that it was a special occasion.

And then I even had smooth traffic there and back - truly, a weekend where things just came together - and I appreciated it so much. I feel inspired to train my dogs, excited to for Navarre's future and refreshed about agility in general - I do love it so. It was a good weekend, and happy to be back home - even if Haku and Fizban could care less that I'm back. That's okay, Fenwick, Eva and Isis made up for it.

No video from the weekend, I truly didn't know if either dog was going to be able to do anything, made me really appreciate what we were able to do - just enjoying the ride this weekend, no expectations. Imagine Bright looking super cute and easy (and oh so very forgiving), and Navarre trying really hard and looking almost like he knew what he was doing ... a few times. Good pups, I'm very thankful we were able to play!

All About Haku



Good god the sports rehab place has gotten expensive, twice as expensive as when I took Navarre last year. It's too bad, as I've had good success with it, but after this I'll be looking for other alternatives. I am committed to getting Haku back in action though, and I'm very optimistic about it. The vet didn't find anything overly concerning at all and does think it's the wrist(s). She does think they can be loosened up and helped out and he can get back to being Haku - but it is a structural thing, and it will be an issue in the future as he ages.

Actually not many exercises we're doing at home, and we're doing laser for a few weeks and a follow up appointment, but she seemed to think he'll be just fine. Always worrying when something has been a continuning issue like this, so good to hear that it's not too big of an issue at the moment anyway. We've already been cleared to start gradually increasing activity again, and Haku can only be happy about that.

So we went ahead and did Haku's new and improved directed jumping exercise at 8 inches today. And it was so EASY. All his new retrained behaviors look wonderful and they make him SO HAPPY. Criteria, clarity, consistency - finally, he knows what is expected. That was our big hurdle before I even contemplated trying utility again, and boy does it feel good to have that one look so solid the first time we put it all together. And we started training yet ANOTHER go-out behavior as well, this one for when there is no stantion to send him to - so basically going and hiking his leg on the wall. It's pretty funny looking and he thinks it's SO MUCH FUN. Love how easily amused Haku is, no lack of enthusiasm with that boy.


Playing some extreme article games, amusing how offensive Haku finds other people's articles - they don't smell right AT ALL. Which made for this to be not as impressive at it looks, but I was impressed anyway!

I'm now feeling optmistic about our return to utility - and then also very excited to get Haku on sheep again. While I do want Navarre to have that exposure, I know Haku would be able to go do some basic herding trials - and now I'll have the opportunity to do that. I think this is going to be a GREAT year for Haku. God I love that dog.

So, yeah, Navarre really needs to learn how to rear cross and an optional stop on the dogwalk. Both of which are really going to be needed. I need to start hiding the toy when I run, as he's staring at the frisbee while he runs, and he has an adorable 'butt in the air' table at the moment that could use some work. I'm not overly motivated to fix it - USDAA, meh. Weave channels are looking good though!

Bright ... well, nothing has changed there, we continue to really struggle to get through anything. She's either pulling off of things or just shooting off course - can't explain it, still not sure what the right response is.  The seminar this weekend will be ... interesting.


Navarre hasn't QUITE mastered a sustained nose touch while posing - but will smack himself repeatedly on the head, which is also cute


Such a happy dork


Forbidden love


Used to be that Navarre was too shy to hug and Bright was overly exuberant - now Bright doesn't want to hug and Navarre is WAY too happy to demonstrate - Bright doesn't seem to mind being the huggie though


London is not good at group posing - but always makes everything louder and more exciting


Dorks

The Earth may be succeeding

I do think the heat has been making me feel physically ill. I thought maybe I was just dehydrated, but even drinking more I feel headachey and just sort of vaguely nauseated and ill. That first day when we went from 60 to 90 was the worst, but especially in the afternoons I just don't feel good. I'm not alone either, Brisbee had some sort of weird rear end issue just going outside while I was gone yesterday, as did Gabe. My theory is just the extreme heat and acclimation period, it's not natural, I tell you.

Spending most of our time indoors, Navarre and Eva have just been partying it up. Eva will now even play with Navarre when I'm right there, those two are quite the force of nature. Bright HATES it, I have to keep her from wanting the Fun Police the crap out of them. It is interesting to see how both Eva and Navarre will tell of the other if they get too rough, it's a pretty equal relationship - and good to see Eva setting boundaries. But still surrprises me that Navarre doesn't respect girls more. Navarre really does think he's King of the World, and, for the most part, my easy going crew just go along with it. He's a strong personality, my puppy. He's now cleaning out Haku, Bright and Eva's ears - despite their dislike of it. They find it easier to just to let him do it. The cats like it though, Navarre is an equal opportunity ear cleaner. Cocky little teenager these days, he's going to push his luck too far at some point, I imagine.

Neighbor's sheep were in our yard today, I took Haku out to round them up and bring them back the nursery. He ran straight at them and alarm barked - and then as they're running out the front gate his little face just crumbles as he realized what he had actually barked at. His big chance to be the herding hero and he blows it by not realizing they were sheep until too late. Sigh. The good news is that sheep saved themselves, they just went down the road and back into the nursery. And in a REALLY cute way, leaping and cavorting and having a blast. They were super cute sheeps!

A LOT of coyote action at night lately, I don't know if it's them or the deer but there is a totally flattened huge area in the field from the nightly parties. Last night there was a whole pack of coyotes screaming around the chicken coop. Eva and Navarre, the official Alarm Barkers, have a lot to say when they go out at night. The other dogs stay silent, they don't screw around with coyotes. Haven't let the chickens out much, I worry about them too much. Had to block off the chicken house itself so they would stop sleeping in there. So then they moved up to the roof. My chickens don't like to roost on perches, apparently, they want to sleep in a big slumber party pile.

Hoping to feel better soon, but another day in the 90s tomorrow. Ugh, our 5th day in the row in the 90s. Did play a little bit with Navarre just to see how responsive he was to multiple downs out of motion. He will down on the SECOND request, you know, the louder, more emphatic request. And he seems puzzled about the whole exercise, "Why did you call me just to lie me down again?"


Uncooperative dogs refuse to pose during our VERY pink sunset the other night

The herding journey continues



Took the Wondertwins down south for a little herding today. It was still fairly early in the day, so it wasn't TOO hot. And it sure is pretty this time of year, everything is blooming and green - everything hasn't dried to a crisp yet. Lovely facility and a nice way to spend the morning.

We're still stumbling along, trying to find our way into herding. The instructor was very nice, but I don't think the right match for our two. The sheep weren't really appropriate for baby dogs, and the method the instructor used was just ramping them through the roof. This was all on a long line and I don't think Navarre's neck will ever be the same - and I don't think he had any clue what he was supposed to be doing and never got anywhere even near the sheep, she was trying heel him around driving the sheep around the round pen and that's not really what I want him to learn first in herding. I don't doubt that with enough exposure this would work to get the dogs understanding, but considering the distance involved and the amount of time this would take, not to mention Dove and Navarre's personalities, I don't think it's the right fit. At least at this stage, maybe once they have some exposure and experience this might be a better place for them to learn.

So back to the drawing board, heading home we were talking about my past experience with herding instructors and thought about Brian Abingdon, who I had worked with several times with Haku at Sherry Butler's place. He's a cowboy with very straight forward ideas about herding that I appreciate - and he's not at all afraid of dogs with much more, uh, oomph. So we swung by his place as long as we were nearby to see where it was - and Heidi decided we should invite ourselves over. The introvert in me was horrified, but we did get to talk to him and his wife and I do think he may be a good match for our two troublemakers. He's not herding again until August, but it sounds like once haying is done he's all herding, all the time. He also has an indoor arena, which sounds very appealing. His tiny little border collies are so freakin cute too, such a different type of dog.

I do think once the pups get STARTED they're not going to be bad dogs. I don't think they're going to be gripping and bringing down sheep or running them into fences, they just need to figure out what the game is in a way that they understand. I was really happy with Navarre's response to Carol when he worked with her, just in that short period of time I could see him responding and starting to figure out the game. It was interesting to see the difference between how he was relaxing with Carol and how being constantly restrained on a long line was turning him into a raving nutjob that just wanted to lunge at sheep.

As to what my goals are with Navarre and sheep, I would like to train to a basic level, maybe go to some AKC or ASCA herding trials. I don't expect him to have much talent, but both him and Dove definitely proved today that even if you're constantly correcting them and jerking them away from sheep they never lose ANY enthusiasm for it. You can go far with enthusiasm - I think Navarre will enjoy doing herding, and I would enjoy learning more about it. And Dove and Navarre could probably do cows, if we wanted to.

And hopefully in August Haku will be able to play as well, and that gives me double the reason to go explore the world of herding. I think it will make for two very happy border collies. We have some ideas, about getting dog broke sheep for Heidi's for practice, but we do need to find an instructor to have regular lessons with so we can actually progress. Brian gave us our homework, which is working on multiple downs at a distance, walking up inbetween, so we already have things to work on.

Only got up 99 degrees today, didn't quite make the triple digits. Still hot tomorrow, and the day after that, and probably the day after that - but, eventually, it should cool off. And, knock on wood, supposed to be cooler for the weekend and the outdoor agility seminar! Fingers crossed. Also entered Bright in an AKC trial in Salem, that's a nice facility when it's hot as it's open and you get the airflow. Hopefully it won't be 100 degrees ... but the chances that it might be seem to be increasing. Not sure if we'll have any other agility trials this summer, but we have fun things planned regardless - and, hopefully, herding!


Not much to see with the pups herding today, but they enjoyed themselves


Look, it's cousin Cait!


She has a bit of naughty in her, just like London did ;-)


Clearly loves it!


Cait is awesome!

Uncooperative dogs



Well, we're all still alive - time will tell if this summer kills us yet. There was a lovely sunset this evening, which I tried to take some pictures and dogs were just refusing to cooperate. And what's the point of a sunset without a dog?


When none of the other dogs come through - London is your man. He looks good no matter what!


When Fenwick is your best poser, you know things have gone wrong

Cramming



Can't believe we're supposed to have 102 degree temps this weekend. I did finally break down and brought out the kiddie pool - it's June, it's officially summer now. Bring on the always slightly damp and musty London - he LOVES his pool, but, boy, does he suck at drying out. Bring on the grooming too, all that damp hair mats up like crazy. Makes him happy though!

The old dogs are getting older, and all three have had their issues this week. Brisbee had a couple pre-neuro episodes, where we caught it early enough that he never got completely gone. But he's also getting really stiff when getting up these days, poor guy. London too, we really spent a lot of time partying it up today while the weather was lovely and cool - overdid it with him, hard to see him so stiff. And then Fenwick stumbled and fell down onto the concrete patio, I think he just misjudged the little drop-off there. Poor guy, he's mostly okay, but still a little short in the front. Always a little jarring when they show they're not quite as invincible as I think they are. Happy though, those are three happy old guys.

Today was such a perfect day, and knowing that the super hot weather is coming, Navarre and I did a little homework cramming throughout the day. Really happy with how his skills are coming together, he can definitely be 'floaty', but I'm pleasantly surprised to see he CAN collect ... at least at 12 inches. I have no expectations of Navarre to be a tight turning dog, though. Having so much fun with him:



Also very much enjoying running my little loaner papillon - running a small dog is so different! As is running a dog without commitment to things - I really do take that for granted with my dogs. He has lovely indepedent contacts though! Almost makes me want a papillon. Almost. At least, this one. ;-)

Super happy with Haku's progress in obedience lately. Our recent set of new behaviors and retraining has made much more sense to him. I'm now feeling pretty excited about all his utility behaviors for coming back to trialing in the Fall. His gloves have really come together, his articles are looking great even with a lot of heavy proofing, signals have been so solid, and he's even been doing better with heeling. So much good stuff, I'm really proud of him.

His go-outs this week were fantastic, both his new gate behavior and his old retrieve go-out. I think working through the new method actually helped him generalize the behavior. He's now doing his 'post' behavior from across the entire facility - it's almost like he actually knows what straight ahead is! And we did his retrieve go-out across TWO buildings at his lesson tonight, and he was just so confident. Our new directed jumping signals have really gone well, he's enjoying the games we're playing there and is so CONSISTENT. I actually am beginning to feel like Haku actually knows these exercises. It's a good feeling! And we're just having so much fun together with it all, no stress at all.

Haku is finally going to the sports vet next week (as long as I, uh, remember to go his appointment this time - a-hem), so hopefully we can start working on fixing him up to play again. The good news, as long as he's not doing any hard running, haven't seen any limping.

My dog training room has a new addition - my training whiteboard! Especially with conditioning exercises, I often forget what we're supposed to be working on - well no more!



When it's hot outside, it's lovely and cool in the basement - we'll be working more indoor training soon enough, apparently. Though the HOTTEST day this weekend Navarre is supposed to go herding again. Ha!

Navarre gets around



ZOMG, so many allergies - and then almost 90 today, supposed to be 100 this weekend. The planet is trying to kill me, I think. Probably justified, I suppose.

Tried an experiment over the weekend when down playing with puppies at Poodletopia - Navarre ran for Heidi! He was a bit confused at first, and somewhat tentative, but happy to play with her and tug on his frisbee - not looking for me. I imagine once he's confident in agility he will be happy to run for other people. He likes agility for agility, not necessarily for me.

We played with some wide open figure 8 stuff with the puppies, which Navarre really hasn't had much of. A good reminder that I really should teach him to rear cross, though he did well with blinds as long as I could stay ahead. He doesn't quite have the concept of 'lines' down yet, missing jumps was pretty common. Not quite ready for our novice pinwheels, apparently.

Did practice some weave independence today, and once he caught onto the game he was driving into the wall and seemed to really understand the job was to finish the poles. Also did his first rear crosses and pushes out of the weaves. Let it be said, if you're using wide open channels, be really careful pushing past the weaves, he almost took me out. ;-) Extreme entries were not as nice today, hard sided he wasn't bending to wrap the pole and soft sided he wasn't going out to the beginning of the poles. Always things to work on. Also had a teeter into the wall that blew his teeter contact to heck, so needs more work with that too.

Little sessions here and there, I'm fortunate to have so many opportunities during the week to take a couple minutes to work on things. Those minutes add up, a little practice goes a long way!

Bright got to play with a portion of a course from regionals I set up for classes:



What we ran was not a true to map representation, of course, so hard to fit things into the arena - but I wanted to play with the 6-11 portion. So many different ways to handle that, and fun to see the videos that have been posted. All of which people seemed to end up WAY farther ahead than I was. What worked best for us was wrapping to the inside at 7, push out to the tunnel and threadle rear to 10. Some really fun, challenging courses at the regional this year -  was really fun to follow along.

And to see it done really well, Bright's DareDevil was up for the regional and looked FANTASTIC. I think they also ended up third in GP finals and did all sorts of awesome - Laura is just rocking it with him:



And Bright's baby girl Larissa also won a grand prix down in Mexico over the weekend! It was a good weekend for the Sparklepuppies!

Fun from the BBQ this weekend:


Big toy for a little dog!


I actually think Navarre has won Bender over, I think he kind of likes him now


Pixel's ears are free!


Two handsome boys in the roses


Saucy Pixel telling Navarre all about it (Navarre thought she was, uh, pretty sexy)


Navarre truly believes that no one should ever fetch alone


Is Pixel looking grown up? I have no idea, what is she SUPPOSED to look like?

Sheep video

Because everyone loves to watch a dog running in circles around sheep for 4 minutes:



To be fair, it is amusing to watch Carol chase after Navarre in the beginning - she's quite spry ;-)

I don't think Navarre will have the 'too polite' issue in herding that Haku and London have with sheep. Navarre is very happy to tell sheep all about it. And I do need to remember how fun herding sounds when it's a lovely 65 degree day ... and how it's less exciting in the pouring down rain or burning heat the summer.

Puppies!

Went and visited Demi's pups again, they're 2 weeks old now and were so vocal and fiesty. Briard puppies like the growl! Took them outisde for the first time and I enjoyed snuggling with my favorite puppy (Pink!).


They're getting bigger!


Attempting to pose the girls - they refused


My two favorite girls


This could be anyone, really


That's one small step for puppy ....


Yeah, they still don't do much yet


They've got looking cute down though!

Then just for kicks, as I saw this sign down the street: ABCA Border Collie Pups For Sale! Anne and I went to see the puppies - because puppies are cute even if they do live in junkyard. To be fair, the pups and the parents all looked happy and healthy and the people were really nice and loved their dogs. But it was kind of a 'backyard breeder' cliche all around. I took some pictures with my cell phone, just because it's hard to stop me when there are puppies around;


Anne with the best puppy, the one they were keeping, she was the most outgoing (and cute!)


Mama dog was just obsessively herding chickens the whole time


The boy on the left was CHUNK, like twice as wide as the other pups


Grandma and Grandpa - I loved Grandpa, I'll admit

So, yeah, not tempted by the random border collie puppies down the street - but we had fun cuddling with them anyway. ;-)

Let the herding begin

Navarre played with some sheep for the second time over the weekend. He hadn't been on sheep since he was six months old, and I felt a lot more confident in his ability to listen and control himself this time. He went out twice, the first time with me so I could try to show him what we were there for. Carol took him out the next time and actually showed him what he should be doing. ;-)  VERY different experience introducing Navarre than the other boys, London and Haku had a lot of eye and were always very respectful of the sheep, Navarre just wants to run and chase. It's very dizzying in the round pen.

Safe to say, Navarre likes sheep - and any nervousness he felt with Carol before was gone, he seemed quite happy to take direction from her. What can you say about a young dog 'herding'? It's not impressive looking, but he learned to change directions and was being much more thoughtful by the end.

I don't expect him to be a GOOD herding dog, but we're going to see what we can do. We're heading down south next weekend to meet with instructor down there. Heidi has been with Dove and liked her, so hopefully that will go well. Dove is a much more, uh, enthusiastic herder than Navarre. I think it will be a good thing for both pups to learn some impulse control in exciting situations. You know, eventually. But, yeah, tentatively hoping to set up some regular lessons and access to sheep for practice this summer. I think Navarre will like that a lot.


Thanks to Carol for taking the boys out to play!


Baby Pixel is just learning that sheep are fun


More mature Bender made it all look easy!


Excitement! Adventure! Don't squish the pyrshep!


Happy herding Navarre


Bender also thought this was all pretty darn cool - and that stopping was for sissies


Pixel had all the best pictures, of course ;-)

So new and exciting!



It may not look any different, but I'm writing this on my brand new computer! I hadn't even realized my old one had gotten so obsolete - or how loud it was. My pretty new one is whisper quiet and super awesome. All of my computers have been Bruce Originals, and this one is no different. I must say, I don't remember the last time I had to switch computers, but, wow, it's so easy these days. Google pretty much remembers everything for me, and so easy just to upload things to the cloud and download software. We are living in the future! Though it did take me like an hour to figure out how to turn on the dvorak keyboard. I think it's safe to say that dvorak never really caught on.

Fizban is feeling extra snuggly with his Haku tonight, they were all curled up together under my desk, and then Haku tried to get some alone time and moved - but Fizban is right back on top of him. That Haku is so patient - and Fizban knows it. They are simply adorable together, and Fizban's purr is SO LOUD.

Good news is that back under restriction, no more limping from Haku, even with some obedience thrown in. I will be curious to see what they say at the vet next week, but I am resigned to a summer of rehab with Haku. Still hopeful we can continue to work obedience though, and nothing like a forced hiatus to really inspire me to retrain things! Our retrain list:

- Go Outs: resting head over ring gates by stantion (this is in addition to his retrieve go-out, not replacing)
- Directed Jumping: retrain to 'dogside' arms - might as well, can't get much worse than it is now, just using cones, no jumps
- Separate Jump Cues: I'm not sold on this one, but might as well play with it, each jump will have its own specific verbal cue
- Recall Signal: too similar to his down, we're retraining a side flip to chest height pull move which he already seems to 'get'

Will give us things to work on while he's recovering! Though I must say, he really is looking way more consistent these days. We had our lesson today and really happy with his gloves. We did seven gloves, probably about 3 feet apart and he was doing a BEAUTIFUL job with his pivots and marks. So much better with gloves these days, though he has just started to develop a bit of a munching habit on all his retrieves, so working on that. I do think having TWO obedience classes a week is a great thing for Haku ... and may be about the only times we actually practice. So we've effectively increased our practice by 100%!

Meanwihle, I've never been so proud of a dog for refusing to give me a toy. Worked with Navarre finishing up his handling homework before class today. No one else was there, quiet, nothing going on and he was just so SASSY, barking at me and tugging like a fiend. And then he would just NOT give up the toy. Reminded me of when he latched onto the vacuum that one time - when he wants to keep something, he does. Now, keep in mind, he was not trying to TAKE the toy, if I let go he would shove it right back at me - but he would not give it up to start another exercise.

And, oh, so many thigh bruises from Navarre. Those cloth frisbees are DANGEROUS. He picks them up in the 'middle' and then brings them to me and pins them to my leg ... and chomps down on his 'frisbee' which is now attached to my FLESH. And I the more I try to stop him from doing that, the more determined he is to press that frisbee against me and munch away. And, of course, if I try to just TAKE the frisbee - he won't let go. Little shit. Makes me so happy to see him so in love with the toy, he really is growing up. Boy is it hard to try to read my phone and decipher where I'm supposed to go for an exercise while dancing out of the way trying to keep Navarre from pinning his toy to my thigh.

Anyway, so we have waded through the first two lessons in our foundation proofing class, already feeling much more confident with him! And he's obviously having a great time. Puppy agility is my FAVORITE agility, in case I haven't mentioned that.

Speaknig of great times, Fenwick was also feeling VERY sassy today (it must have been in the air!), and he actually drew blood on Anne play fighting with her. Oops. He can still get so worked up - and never shuts up either. I don't think Anne found him nearly as charming as I did - but the things that drive me nuts about him are also the things I love most - Fenwick is, as always, a very complicated, and always enthusiastic, boy. And at this age, he can do whatever he wants, of course. Hard to stop him, really.

Oh, so many allergies, even with double doses of drugs on board. Can't wait for the fields to be mowed, but I'm also so enjoying the weather this week. MODERATE, oh, how I love you.