The Female London

I think Bright has turned into a female London. When she was younger she was so serious, and so very concerned about everything - it was very important for her to be CORRECT, even though she's not a soft dog. I do think at five she's finally really grown up, and grown confident and secure enough to be who she really is - which is really kind of a female London.

I hadn't really noticed because she sort of snuck up on me, when she was younger her and London were NOTHING alike. But now Bright's just like this big goofy puppy who is always happy, always sure that what she's doing is correct, quite confident and secure doing her own thing, and ALWAYS ready to play (and becomes a total nutjob when it's not her turn). I'm not sure how it happened, but today I finally realized who she reminded me of - it's London. And, of course, she is his niece, so this should not be a total surprise, but, yet, it is.

Today I wanted to do some videos for homework exercises, just some one jump stuff - how hard could that be? OMG, Bright was just making shit up left and right. Thank god I had Eva and Navarre as back-up performers, because Bright was just all over the place. Now, it's important to note, she was also very HAPPILY doing whatever she felt like, and found my lack of appreciation amusing - so reminded me of London in agility. They are just so very confident that whatever they're doing is correct, and if you try to tell them otherwise they just laugh and do it again. I will admit, both Bright and London are probably my dogs that can do the most repetitions of anything - which is good, because we rarely seem to get anything done right the first time.

That said, I love LIVING with Real Bright much more than when she was younger. She's just this bubbly, wiggly fluffy ball of lightness and love - she literally SMILES. And she makes me smile, even if we can't seem to do a damn thing in agility these days. You know you're in trouble when Eva, who hasn't done agility in like a year, has more skills than Bright.

You know who has weave skills though? Navarre! We played around with 'Group Weaving' today, just the six straight poles. I thought this would be hard for him, with both the distraction of all the other dogs running around and me really sending and running - but no, he aced it! Even with Fenwick always blocking the entrance of the weaves as he was barking his head off, Navarre only missed one entrance, and only pulled out early once as well. Once he figured out the game he was ON IT. His footwork looked great too, and he let me race ahead and do a couple extreme rear crosses. Good weaving puppy!

And, yeah, Bright was not nearly so good - ha!

Oh, and guess which adorable merle puppy can now go from standing on hind legs squatting down into a sit-up on on his own? He is just growing up left and right these days ...

I always have in my mind that I should take some good pictures of the cats - Dragon especially is looking very grown up these days. Cats are terrible posers though, and indoor pictures. Ugh. So here are some crappy cellphone pictures, because that's better than nothing! Cats are so awesome, like this one - OMG:

Ginger waterbowl solidarity

God I love this face!

12 weaves!

The plan was to see the longhaired whippet puppies again today, but we must have gotten our signals crossed, as she never showed. Too bad, I'm sure they would have been really cute! I did bring Navarre out to Anne's anyway, so it was nice to get him on some new equipment at her place.

So new aframe for Navarre, wooden, non-rubberized with fairly big slats. I wasn't sure what he would think of it, and it took him a bit to actually run. Once he got the hang of it he looked great though, happy to see that. And, bonus, that transferred to her dogwalk, where he has never looked really comfortable on it, he was actually looking good there too. All encouraging news for contacts!

She also had 12 straight weaves set up, so we gave that a try. So hard for the puppy! He can do six, but the 12 he had to think really hard about. So not real pretty at this point, very much reminds me of when he was introduced to 12 channel weaves - took him a while before he got the hang of it. He was willing though, and I was happy with what he was able to do. Going to work on six with me actually moving, then put two sets of six with a gap inbetween for a while.

I often forget that these two are both intact boys. At least at this point they still along great, I hope that continues as Navarre matures.

I didn't have any puppies to take pictures of, so Forrest filled in. He was feeling GOOD today!


Okay, I take it all back about Navarre not vaulting and ski-jumping the aframe, he was feeling much more confident today. So not quite as easy as yesterday, but we went ahead and moved up to full height, as I don't think being lower was helping the vaulting. He's still figuring it out, and as long as he's working on that, I threw in his first set of straight poles - no problem! Of course, I can't really run with either of them yet, but he's trying really hard!


Well that was easy

I don't even know what to say about our weather at this point, though I hear it's supposed to actually be summer-like this week. Today though, just perfect - and rain! I'm pretty sure the rest of the country is paying for our cool weather, but considering we got someone else's weather all last year, I'm saying we earned it.

It was so nice this morning I went ahead and introduced the aframe with Navarre. Started at about 4 feet and it was a rocky start as he was just really awkward and not seeing it at all as the same behavior as the dogwalk. So I brought out the manners minder (where somehow I've lost the remote - seriously?), and he was like, "Got it!" He looked GREAT, and no crazy vaulting or leaping off. Did a little session with food, very consistent and lovely performance. Raised it up to about 5 feet and brought out a toy jackpot and he looked really nice! Same thing as I did on the dogwalk, had the MM out as a target, but as long as he hit low with split feet, he got the toy. If the hit wasn't as nice, or I didn't like his striding, he got food in the MM.

Anyway, I was hoping that he would transfer his running behavior to the aframe and I was really pleased he did. We weren't doing a lot of speed or anything, but he looked really comfortable, wasn't hitting the upside or flinging or vaulting the apex. Which hopefully means, knock on wood, we really do get the aframe 'for free'. He seemed to think it was great fun anyway.

Much like the weaves, he's not actually doing the full obstacle yet, but at least at this point with both the weaves and the aframe, I think it's going to pretty straightforward. And, someday, we'll proof it more - right now I'm just tickled to be able to say that Navarre has ALMOST been introduced to all the equipment. Big moment! Planning to nudge his jumping up to 18/20 next month. He really didn't seem to notice much a difference between 12 and 16, I will be curious to see what he does with a little more height, but he's been pretty consistent with his jumping form so far. I don't think 20 will be much of a jump for him, but he may prove me wrong.

Really though, Navarre is very close to being a REAL agility dog. That can do all the equipment (kinda), rear cross (kinda) and everything! Okay, still needs a lot of training on his dogwalk behaviors, weaves, aframe and jumping. But, hey, details. Soon we will be just spending a lifetime on becoming a team, we have all the time in the world.

I was feeling bold today, I took all the border collies hiking. Which is not actually that bold, other than London. London has lost a lot of his hearing, however, much like Poco did, it really seems like he's learned to compensate. He still can't hear me if he's far away and not looking at me though. My concern was he is just always off doing his own thing, that he would wander off and not notice we left and get lost. However, we have been hiking at the SAME place for his entire life. He knows it REALLY WELL. The point being, no, he doesn't pay attention to where I am - but he knows where HE is and he doesn't really need us to know where we're going. He didn't when he was younger, and he doesn't now. And the good news is that he really does seem to realize he needs to pay more attention to where I am these days. Kinda. And we didn't lose him, or if I didn't know where he was, I knew I would find him up ahead down at the water, because that's what he's always done.

London was REALLY HAPPY to be there, I made the right decision. That boy LOVES an adventure. And while he wasn't streaking around with the younger dogs, he was also quite active doing his own exploring and water romping. And he did not seem to get sore or uncomfortable, it was good to see him being able to do everything he wanted to do.

It was actually rather comical, it was sort of the tale of two Londons and two Hakus. I had forgotten how concerned Haku gets when I run down hills (easier on my knees), he does not approve and will not leave my side. Even afterwards he seems to think I'm going to keel over and die. However, BOTH Haku and Bright were doing that today, so I had one on either side of me, and they would not leave. I had my standing guard glued to my side for probably 20 minutes before I could convince them to go play. Meanwhile, London and Navarre could care less - they were off doing their own thing, independent of one another, totally content in their own worlds.

We all enjoyed having Haku back with us, and it meant we got to play 'Stick' again! Which is not nearly as dangerous as it sounds. Haku will find a relatively small stick and designate it as 'the one'. Then Bright will come and steal it, but Haku will let her, so there is no grabbing or tugging, just gentle dropping and parading around with the stick. Then Bright drops the stick and lets Haku carry it for a while - it's the cutest thing. We have all missed playing 'Stick'. And the border collies are SO easy. Really doesn't matter how many border collies you have, they are all so well behaved. We just came across one mountain biker today, though she had two giant off lead pitbulls with her. Border collies just came nicely with me to the side of the path and ignored the dogs. Such good dogs they are.

Our happy place:

Bestest Birthday Boy

Did a few homework sequences with Navarre today - not one spontaneous rear cross. Now, we DID get like 10 extraneous backsides all at the same jump, but hey. Jump cue discrimination is in our future. Other than the determined backsides, he looked good. Funny how it all sort of comes together. Just a few months ago he knew nothing much at all!

Happy Birthday to Haku! He's seven today (hey, it's after midnight). I think my feelings on that boy are pretty well known - love him to the moon and back. I think I'll take him hiking for his birthday, it's been WAY too long!

Everyone was happy to have Haku back in the mix!

Bender has discovered blackberry picking

Since Fenwick lost some weight he's even more of a troublemaker than normal

Happy Stafford!

No one even tries to beat Navarre to the frisbee at this point

Bringing the frisbee back is always an adventure

Manly hair away!


Rear Crosses from Hell

My public service announcement: I do believe, at heart, people are good, on the whole. I think we're all ridiculously biased in our opinions, which rarely have actual merit behind them. But mostly I think that hate, ridicule and scorn come from fear - and hate only breeds more hate. You will never change anyone's mind with hate, but only with understanding and acceptance. I'd like to think the majority of people in the world are rational, compassionate people that see the hate and fear around them and don't respond in kind, even if they don't agree. We are all good people, on the whole - no need to go crazy folks. The best response to fear is to put aside your own feelings and really try to understand why they feel that way. Though I'll admit, sometimes I do feel like I'm watching a repeat of the fall of the Roman empire these days.

Anyway, I just had to laugh today, my three minute session of introducing rear crosses to Navarre yesterday, and today EVERYTHING was a rear cross. I mean, it was ridiculous, I seriously could not get him to stop. Ah, rear crosses - my nemesis. So, things to work on, I suppose. He's also not quite ready to weave with a lot of excitement yet, he can do it EVENTUALLY, but staying in with pushing and distraction is super hard! Which considering we just introduced closed weaves, I think that's perfectly okay. Same with dogwalk too, so I can see this will be important for the future, as I think he's going to ramp up in a trial, but he can be pretty chill in practice.

Haku's next obedience trial is coming up REAL QUICK, like in two weeks. Eeek! This is UKC Open, which I feel much more confident about than Utility at this point. It will be at the facility he has class at, so hopefully everything should go smoothly. We worked bad dumbbell throws at the high jump, and he was getting back into that game. Closer to broad jump is better, and I need to remember to really turn my shoulder on his figure eight. Not saying we're going to do it, but we CAN. Utility is really the one I want to master, but I must say, there is an agility trial that weekend that I'd MUCH rather go to. Agility is my passion, I'll admit - but I'll do the obedience for my Haku.

Weaves! Rear crosses!

A day of firsts for the puppy - he can now weave 12 closed channel weaves! That is one long dog, he makes 24 inch poles look like 20s. It's also amusing to see his rear legs basically just along for the ride. Navarre apparently thinks weaving should only happen with your front end.

Obviously still lots to do with weave training in the future, but I've pleasantly surprised to see he quickly he's picked it up so far. We won't have much access to the 24 inch channel weaves after this week, so our next step will be looking at straight poles. We'll save more rigorous weave proofing until he's older, for now it's just basic understanding and letting him find his rhythm.

Then Tammy taunted me that Navarre probably already knows how to rear cross, so I should just do it. So I did - and he does! I mean, he has done rear crosses at tunnels and weaves, and he does threadle rears (basically rear crossing on the flat) - so he has the foundation. So, yeah, he knows how to rear, and we just played around with it a little and he was like, 'Oh, just follow you? Okay!" I'm putting a verbal 'turn' on it as well to help him too (and hopefully avoid confusion). Needs practice, like everything else in agility, but I can now cross off 'introduce rear crosses'. Which means after he's been introduced to the aframe, I believe he'll have seen most everything! Baby dog growing up!

Then guess who had a great time doing agility today? Eva! I dusted her off to see if she would like to go to some of the upcoming UKI trials. I also experimented with putting her in a crate in the stall in the arena, and she was quiet as a mouse. I don't like bringing her places in the summer as she attacks and lunges at people when she's in the car. I really don't want Navarre learning bad habits, and, shockingly, people don't care for it either.

So even after hanging out in the arena stall, she was really happy to come play some agility! Not too stressed or weird, her jumping wasn't too bad. She remembered things and was very happy. Tammy also let us drop in on her class to see what she did with other dogs around, and she was fine. A little more tense, but functional. We'll see about getting her out to some agility this summer, though apparently I'll have to crate her somewhere outside of the car ...

Took Haku out for his first post-rehab free-run today. Knock on wood, no issues! Hope it continues, he was VERY happy. In other injury related news, I've taken off a few pounds from Fenwick after his injury. I swear, every time I let a dog have a little pudge around here they end up breaking. Fenwick is not a fan of this diet thing. His waist is very cute though!

He weaves!

Navarre was wanting to play with the weaves today - guess which puppy did his first set of closed channel weaves? I just did the one set of six and rewarded like crazy - looked easy for him! We'll take a look at closed channels at the arena this week, I think he may almost know how to actually weave. Still tons of proofing to do at some point, but our goal for July was to be weaving straight poles - I think we're going to make it!

August's goal is the aframe, but before we can even touch that I want to feel like we're back on track with his running dogwalk. At home, he's getting back in the groove - at least with straight exits. I tried some hard to turns today - nope! Which doesn't bother me, I have no actual plans to train severe running contact turns, but as a proofing exercise, yes, I think he should be thinking about criteria. So we actually focused on tight entrances and exits with cones today - it was obviously much needed. Navarre DID do a lovely stopped dogwalk today - that I didn't ask for. It was really pretty though!

And then I have a whole new issue to worry about these days:

Rogue chickens with no fear. Indeed, my chickens are very friendly! Perhaps a little too much so.

Haku had his final laser treatment today! It's time to test the waters and see how he holds up. We've been increasing activity and I think it's time to see if he can run full out or if it was all a waste of time. I was not brave enough to try it today. We have been very good these past few months, and he's been more than patient. If he still comes up lame, well, we tried - but I'm not going to restrict him any more. Everyone gets one thorough rehab, I feel we did our job - now it's time for him to be a dog again. We do have one more appointment with the rehab vet next week though.

I got to meet Clair's Longhaired Whippet puppies this weekend - oh so very cute! We did catch them at naptime though, so not too much action. So much snuggling though! So much different than my puppies were at that age, very sweet and people focused - I liked them a lot. Sighthounds, I have always liked them - may have one someday ... maybe. ;-)

These little pups were like little limp dolls when they were asleep, you could pose them however you wanted. Not all the pups were sleeping though!

This brindle girl stayed away for us and kept it action packed

Both the tri and the dark brindle were the most spunky while we were there (keep in mind, mostly they were sleeping!)

Mom and dad (mom is the bigger one!)

Cute brown head

Already expert nappers

Adorable! I may go visit them again this weekend and see if I can get there while they're awake ...

All the pics here!

Somewhat obedient

Obedience match today out at WetDog Wellness. I hadn't been there before, and I hadn't realized it was so small! So not a regulation ring, and didn't have ring gates with standards, so didn't get to really 'test' our directed jumping. Worked out fine for some good exposure and practice with all the dogs. Lots to work on with everyone, but lots of great stuff too. I was happy with what we ended up with.

Eva! I know, shocking, Eva getting to do something. She's really up and down these days, I never know what she may be like - and we haven't really gone anywhere with other dogs for quite some time. My expectations were low, and she was really stressed when I first brought her in. Not a lot of room to acclimate her in the facility. But the good news is that her second time in she was really able to focus and was much more relaxed.

Eva did a Novice Preferred run through with minimal treats in the ring. She did great! Focused, happy tail, trying really hard. Heeling looked pretty good, with some issues of auto-sitting when we would move to the slow. One time she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and that was WAY more distracting than the other actual dogs - so I let her check it out. She had to poke it to make sure it wasn't some stafford that needed discipline - ha! Stand for exam was good, figure eight was good, recall was a little rocky so we repeated it. Came in a little wide on her front and crooked on recall. Second time was nice though. And no issues with the preferred stay - good girl! I actually think she enjoyed herself. Go figure - you just never know with her!

Navarre! OMG, SUCH a puppy. Such a giant, uncoordinated, dorky, floppy puppy. I don't get how he can look so good in agility yet can't get his body organized to heel with any sort of grace for more than 2 feet in a row. He was trying really hard, and he definitely looked like a PUPPY, but a happy puppy. Did much better with the offleash heeling and the figure eight, but, yeah, rather ridiculous. Stand for exam was good, recall he kept anticipating a drop - where did that came from? We did it twice and he was like, "Recall? I have never seen this before in my life." Dork. Great focus though, I was really happy with his attitude and attention. He's just not ready for obedience, and probably won't be for a couple years. Which is funny, as I really did think he was going to go play Rally when he was younger - ha! No, maybe when he's three or four we'll see if he can heel like he's not made out of playdough.

More proof that I was right to fire him for obedience - the group stays. Nice sit-stay, and good on the downstay ... until about 2 minutes, then he turned belly up and started requesting me to play. And then he would just not settle down after that, he was like, "This is DUMB, let's go play!" And he does long stays all the time, he just thought it was silly. I couldn't be upset with him, he was too fricken cute. A great opportunity to test if he can work in a new place with other people and dogs - and he most definitely can. I felt totally connected with him, a good experience for us both.

Haku! The reason for the trip! I had planned to mostly handle it like a competition, but I think going from Navarre to Haku really put me in a goofy training mood. Was surprised to see some stress from Haku going in the first time for Utility, some yawning and displacement. It was good to see when we went in for Open that was gone.

Utility went pretty well! Heeling was fine, a little shifting on his stand for signals, but signals looked great. No issues with articles (except some excited squeaking). Gloves he took a hard look at the wrong glove, but kept it together other than seriously killing that glove on the way back. Moving stand was good, as usual. Ah, directed jumping - no surprise, this did not go well. I had my glove scrap out there for his retrieve go-out, and actually his first go-out was nice! But then he just did not recognize their panel jump at all, it was very unusual looking. So I tried again, he still didn't get it, so we had to stop and train the panel jump - ha! The good news, after that he did great with his directed jumping portion on both jumps (at 12 inches). But on his second go-out he went to the corner. Grumble grumble. So we fixed it and then did several in a row with no props perfectly - but at some point we need to actually do it right without having to fix it first. Someday.

Then Open - it's been a while! Open does make Haku HIGH, and barky. Heeling was better, drop on recall was great. Only a little bit of munching the dumbbell on the flat. He did not pull out his current issue of refusing to let go of the dumbbell or glove, so that was nice. That high jump though, every time he saw it he had to go, 'Oh yeah - that's a jump!" BUT, he fixed himself every time, even if it was at the last minute. But that also meant he almost took the dumbbell to the judge as he was going over at such wonky angles. And broadjump wasn't bad, a little crooked, but good ... except for he would bark on the finish every time - I tried twice and then let it go.

Feeling good about Haku and his UKC Open trial in August. I think he'll have fun, Open seems to be all Haku approved exercises. I think he'll be goofy, but we have the skills in theory. Should work on some jump retrieve proofing, and broad jump can always use some love. Feeling BETTER about our Utility exercises, though it really depends on how much we work on it in August as to whether we'll be ready for trialing in September. It all comes down to feeling confident in his go-outs - ALL of his go-outs. Practice ... a novel thought.

The look - Psychic Chicken Guy was right, my chickens have started laying!

I assume it's the three more 'advanced' girls, because they just like to do everything earlier. Shown for size is the last two remaining eggs from my old chickens. That's right, I'm still eating eggs that my chickens laid like 5-6 months age. Fresh eggs last FOREVER.

This is not just a cute picture of an awesome dog, I was TRYING to take a picture to show that his white spot on his eye is much smaller these days. You can't tell, but trust me.

And here's Navarre on the dogwalk in the yard for the first time in forever. Was interesting to me seeing him being so deliberate in adding an extra stride to hit - mostly going the one direction. And that was the direction where I had put a jump for the first time instead of a cone. And he WOULD NOT go over that jump, so it was interesting to see his thought process, which was to slow down and make sure he got better dogwalk hits, and then still run around the jump. He did eventually figure it out, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't really know what 'jump' means. His threadles to the offside of the tunnel and to the backside of the jump looked great though. Our current project is to get back on our running dogwalk train, and then once THAT'S fixed, back on our STOPPED dogwalk project. And then train the aframe. He says this is way more fun than obedience.

Objects in mirror ...

Cracks me up how huge Navarre's head looks next to Bright's tiny pinhead:

Our audience while playing with the dogs tonight

Yeah, trust me, London does not want to be hugged


Still can't believe how crazy nice this summer has been!

London says he never wants to take off his patriotic bandana - he looks good dressed up

Well, hello, spell check

I'm not sure if I'm the only one with this issue, but the 'Visual Editor' posting function in LJ is messed up for me. So I've been using the HTML tab, which works fine AND HAS A SPELL CHECK! It's been years! So many misspellings. The shame. Like I just misspelled misspellings. Thank god for spell check.

Navarre did a much better job going around a pinwheel today, which is encouraging. And remembered his weaves! Still open about 1 inch, but very pleased with what he's doing so far. He HAS weaved closed poles with the 2x2s, so I assume closing them won't be an issue, but time will tell. Of course, since we did focus on weaves this week, we tried running a course that did NOT go to the weaves - not so pretty. All roads lead to the weaves in Navarre's mind at the moment. Still, there is something about weaving that seems so grown-up, like a REAL agility dog. All the baby dogs in our class are growing up, it goes by so quickly.

I really don't have the mental game of an obedience trainer. Today it was all about how Haku needs to be STRAIGHT at the gates for his go-out behavior. And so hard for me not to argue - I just don't care. I will never be a precision trainer. I like training things to a basic understanding - then time to move on. But, yes, no doubt Haku's go-outs will be straighter if he's not swiveling his butt to the left. I'm sure the agility equivalent of this would be a student saying they don't want to train a 2o/2o because they 'just want the dog to hit the yellow'. It's hard to explain to someone that, in the long run, a more precise behavior is going to make your life MUCH easier. So I try to listen about obedience precision. I really do.

We have not been practicing any obedience at all, as our time has all been spent on injury rehab. Hoping to get back to it though. Today I probably let Haku do way too much. We did do some jumping at 16 in obedience (which was kind of horrifying, but that's another issue). Then did a crazy amount of group heeling and signals - which is SUPER HARD for Haku's little brain. But I figure if he can heel THAT long happily, a mere trial should not be an issue. Then we came home and I figured he'd be tired, so I'd take him out for a little romp. We have been doing little romps, after everyone else gets their ya-yas out and I'm pretty on top of him making sure he's not doing any hard running. Tonight I let the other dogs run around a bit and then got Haku out of the car, but he wasn't listening much. So he did some hard running today. Knock on wood, we'll see how he holds up.

12 Weaves!

Took a look at 12 channel weaves with Navarre today, started with them open about 2 inches. He's a literal guy, he went through six and went, "Ta-da!" The first six were lovely and fast, and then he had to think about every bend after that for a while. So it went WEAVEWEAVEWEAVE ... weave ... weave ... uh ... weave.

He figured it out though, and he ended up looking really good with about an inch open. Went through some popping out early, some missed weave entrances, but overall I was really happy with his transition. He actually looked better with them more closed than open. Open he was kind of throwing himself through them willy-nilly. I can't say for sure as a lot can change with that final step to closed, but I think he's going to be a pretty weaver. He seems to bend and flow through them with nice rhythm. At least, so far.

We did some rear crosses, pushes, harder entries and lots of independence with the weaves and I was pretty happy. Like everything else in agility, he's not actually trained, but I'm really happy with our start. I can't believe it's already mid-July. The goal is to have least introduced all the obstacles by the beginning of September for the UKI trial at our arena. Though we'll have a little 'pre-trial' hopefully running Steeplechase at the OSCD Summer Cup in August, just jumps and tunnels. So by September I'd like to have some straight weaves, an aframe, rear crosses and some basic fluency with his running vs stopped dogwalk. And then I'd like to feel pretty well prepared for his AKC debut in October.

That's the thing, I LOVE baby dogs for many reasons. One of the big ones being that with baby dogs you're just excited when they do ANYTHING, no expectations. But also training obstacles is a very black and white progression. At least, for everything except running contacts. Once you get all the basics down though, it's much more wishy-washy, where it's about handling and improving lines and turns and it's way more about ME than the dog. I like training dogs much more than I like training me.

Today I attempted to do this big speed circle with Navarre, and he just gets going and runs around the jumps - ha! Suddenly it's my job to tell him where to go in a manner that's appropriate for him. I do think running around things will be an issue with him, once he gets up to speed he just can't change speed or direction. It's my job to make sure I set the lines for him, he's not like Bright who can just turn on a dime and figure it out. However, it does make me happy to see he's got such nice forward drive, even if it is in the wrong direction. And today we we're doing some sequencing and he started squealing - so cute!

My baby dog really is growing up, I'm having so much fun with him!

Back at home I attempted to 'Fenwick-proof' the backyard again. I swear, for a dog that is going to be 16 years old next month, he is SUCH a troublemaker. One of the gates in the backyard has 'sagged' a bit and created a gap just big enough for him to squeeze through (literally SQUEEZE). So I let him outside and he just immediately trots over the gate and lets himself out onto the property to go on walk-about.

Bruce had tried zip tying some wooden posts to the gate, but Fenwick just pushed those out of the way. I put in some wire gates, hopefully arranged in such a way that he can't push them out of the way - but Fenwick can be VERY determined. So far, he's contained, but much like when we had the Fortress of Solitude gate extravaganza to keep him and Brisbee from getting on the deck, this fight is probably not over.


I do like training weaves, and Navarre is getting closer:

Not quite in line, but very close! And getting so much better with those soft sided entries and bending in for the second pole. My little superstar! And, yes, I dropped my phone there at the end - I'm not good and videoing and training at the same time. Baby dogs are fun.

Haku got to tag along for some laser as long as I was going out to see Bobbie today. The seldom seen Three Dog Sit-Up:

Haku is notorious for not being able to focus enough to do this in public, so Bobbie got a rare shot indeed today. And I really should work on side-stepping and pivoting, you know, like I've been talking about doing for six months.

Navarre has actually LOST weight, he's back down to 39 pounds, where he's been for months. I keep expecting him to bulk up, but that hasn't happened yet.

Love these guys!

Another BEAUTIFUL day, can't believe how this perfect weather just goes on and on. Blackberries are coming in like crazy - my chickens are afraid of them. Heh. Boy, I brought out a stick of string cheese to give to the chickens and they're flying up and trying to grab it out of my hands - those girls are BOLD.

Some video of them hanging out with the dogs, because they're so cute:

Kitties were feeling VERY snuggly today!


After a chicken angst filled weekend, I brought my chickens to Portland to see the Chicken Expert Guy to see who was a rooster - and none of them were! Ha! I'll take feeling foolish any day, and it's nice to have a definitive answer so I don't sit around and stew about it. And not only are they all hens, but they're all ready to lay any day now - go girls! I get to keep my chickens, and that makes me very happy - and them too. Though maybe they didn't realize how close to peril they almost came.

They didn't seem too traumatized by the whole thing, packing them up was a breeze since they're such good chickens (though maybe next time they might not be so keen on being picked up after this adventure). They just snuggled in for the ride and were very good chickens for the Chicken Expert. He said they were all in lovely condition. Came home and gave them LOTS of treats.

So, yeah, that was a whole lot of drama for nothing - but I'm glad it worked out in the end. Well, until my NEXT chicken drama. I seem good at that sort of thing.

And then Navarre weaved his very first 'straight' poles. Kind of straight. Vaguely straightish. We played with Anne's 2x2s, which are total pushovers. I was pretty happy with what he did, offset some he was great, putting them in closer it was so cute how he had to think about it SO HARD. So, yeah, not really there yet - but getting closer. The plan is to see what he does with 12 mostly closed channel weaves at the arena next week and see about getting some rhythm.

This chicken is checking to see if Navarre's teeth are edible

Current conditioning projects

I consider these exercises our 'jumping' conditioning for the agility dogs:

Also like to do position changes (Sit/Down/Stand/Bow) with fitbones, front feet and then back feet. Been working a little on sit-ups on the donut without the holder - that's hard for Navarre! Need to work on our front/back pivots, teach Navarre side legs, and side stepping with everyone. I'd also like to get a board across some fitbones. I've been wanting to get a 4x4 to start some work there to, but me buying wood is just not something that happens.


Well, very disappointed to find out I have a flock of roosters. Talked to the store they came from and I'm going to bring them back tomorrow. They have their 'chicken farmer' coming who can take them. Apparently he will also have birds for sale that grew up together, so it's possible I may bring new chickens home. But the whole point was to have friendly chickens that liked me, so I don't know about random chickens. And it's theoretically possible that I'll take home my remaining two Speckled Sussex girls, I'm not committed to letting them go - I really do love those chickens, but I think chickens prefer more social interaction and I bet they would fit in well with someone else's chickens. I love having pet chickens, but it is not fun at all dealing with them killing each other - and I just don't want to go through that again trying to introduce new birds.

I just have really bad luck with birds, domestic and livestock, apparently. Sigh. But, once again, super silly to have this huge, expensive, fancy chicken coop and no chickens. I suppose I could try meat chickens, it's warm enough I think they can could grow up outside. I don't know, just so sad for my favorite chickens, I really love those guys. They had a good life while it lasted.

Super sad about that, so it was nice to go see Cavalia with Heidi today - horses! I was never into horses as a girl, so they're really very alien to me. Really awesome show, had never seen it before. I was surprised to see it was actually as much about human athletes as about horses - I thought it was just all horses, all the time. Crazy the people's abilities and athleticism, just unreal. And horses are just so different than the world of dogs, spectacular what they're able to do with the sheer numbers of horses on stage. I couldn't help but be thinking about the training that went into it all the whole time. Horse training is very different than dog training, I realize, but especially for all the 'off leash' stuff, I can only assume that is trained more like dogs. What a fascinating job that must be, I'm sure all the little girls clutching their stuffed ponies were all dreaming of it. No, did not make me want a horse, but admired the skills.

Did do a bit of training of my own today, took out London, Bright and Navarre and worked with the channel weaves again. Navarre just nailed it - and with much distraction! London does whatever he wants these days, he wanted to weave - and he looked great at it! Navarre seemed to have figured out the soft-sided bend, so we closed the poles to about an inch and he was all over it. Border collies do seem predisposed to figure out weaves, I think it's the repetitive nature of it all.

Fizzy picture with Heidi for scale!

Split face ...

Split face! These two were hard to tell apart on the move



Dove needs to work on her posing skills

She's super patriotic though!

Uh oh, possible roosters

So crazy this weather, it just feels so wonderfully good to open all the windows and let the cool air flow through the house. Then walking the property, eating blackberries and plums everywhere - it's amazing! Funny that the grass is still going brown, even with the wet weather we've had. I'm okay with it though - everything is good when it's lovely, cool and overcast.

And Fenwick seems back to normal! He's running around like he's on crack and no signs of any lameness. Which seems weird considering how very broken he was, but I'm not going to argue about it. Everyone is happier now that Fenwick is back in the mix, and we're just waiting for Haku to join us again. Here he is looking swank for his laser treatment today:

Their new laser requires all the people and dogs to wear protective glasses. I can't imagine your average dog is going to be happy about wearing goggles. Haku didn't mind, naturally - but then, he always knew he would look cool in sunglasses.

Been doing a lot with Haku, with balance and tricks inside, light romping outside and a little jumping in obedience. And, of course, this is Haku, it's not like he's not slamming into the door and launching onto the couch from 12 feet away all day long. Knock on wood, wrists seem to be holding up. Pretty much just avoiding hard running, which is when he's broken himself every time. We all miss his energy though, just not the same without him.

And Navarre seems back to normal today! We took it easy this morning, but he was running around barking his head off this afternoon, so we went out for romping and a little more weavepole work. He's great with his hard sided entries, but his soft sided entries may have been corrupted by our channel work. He enters and then doesn't bend enough for the second set. Obviously he can do this with the 2 sets farther apart, but at a certain distance he's just like, "Fuck that, so much easier to run around!" So I actually decided to take him back to the channels, but closed to about 1.5 inches. Yes, he liked this setup better - go figure! Still needs work with that bend though. Looking good - he likes weaves.

So I'm concerned I have multiple roosters now. I thought the chickens were older, but I think they're only 4.5 months old. And, to be fair, from day one we had three chicks that were physically larger than the other two. While they were growing this remained the same, they were always noticeably different. Which is why I assumed they were NOT roosters. Chickens are notoriously hard to sex, if you could just look at them and say the bigger ones were roosters, any moron could do it. While they're all speckled sussex, it did seem like I had two 'types'. And the little ones have TINY little combs, and the bigger ones keep getting BIGGER combs. But they all seemed to have the same feather type, so, once again, I just assumed the huskier chickens were just a different type. Now ... I'm beginning to wonder. Two of the bigger ones really do look kinda ... manly. And the third bigger one is still different than the little two.

Time will tell, I suppose. They're all still really friendly and sweet. I hope I didn't end up with a flock of roosters! That would be just my luck ...

We've been continuing to work on conditioning exercises. Bright is at Expert Level, it doesn't take her long to pick anything up, and it's all easy for her. Navarre finally learned to go from four feet on the ottoman to reaching back to putting his rear feet on the floor. Bright does this majestic gymnastic move, engaging her core. Navarre just sort of slides off one foot at a time. Not so majestic. He's also just starting to catch on to going from a sit-up to standing on his rear feet back to a sit-up. I'm impressed as this took Bright a LONG time to figure out. Navarre isn't quite there without a lot luring, but he's doing it! Good puppy.

It's hard work being this awesome

Sad Puppy :-(

Navarre is definitely not feeling well tonight. Very subdued, quiet, sleeping off by himself. I thought he may not eat his dinner as he didn't even try to get any of mine, but he perked up to eat. Nothing to really point to as the issue, hoping he feels better tomorrow. Sad puppy makes me very sad.

Earlier he was happy to play with some weavepoles. We had a couple more sessions today, adding in a second set of poles. That went really well for the most part, until he did actually start getting weird. Maybe that's when he started not feeling well?

Somewhat frustrating week of training with the dogs. While I love to train new behaviors and happily go through all the ups and downs that requires, nothing frustrates me more then spending a ton of time teaching a behavior, and then it disappears. I like training NEW behaviors, I have very little patience with retraining something we've already done. Bright was just a trainwreck in practice this week, once again, like she had never seen a threadle cue before in her life. At one point I just stood there and we attempted the same straightforward tunnel threadle SIX TIMES before she came into me. Now, a GOOD trainer would have realized maybe after the THIRD, or maybe even the FOURTH rep that it's stupid to keep doing the same thing and expect a different response - but not me. It's the classic, "But she KNOWS this!" But obviously she doesn't, or she would have done it. Still, I would like to point out that there are days where she DOES respond as trained - making it even more frustrating when suddenly she acts like we haven't spent the last 5 years working on these behaviors.

Yeah, still don't even know what the right response is when Bright does this - but getting frustrated NEVER helps. We've gone back to basics, we've focused on just the behavior, and, yes, she CAN do it - but sometimes it's truly like she's never seen any of this in her life. Heather still does not want to concede and go back to basics and apparently retrain almost everything. We already put in our time, did the work, just baffling where it all went to.

Then Navarre had a lot of good this week, with one noteable exception - his dogwalk. You know, the thing we've spent the most time training of probably any other skill. And he had been looking good, and I felt pretty confident with his easy running exits as he's been very consistent. You know, until this week. And I knew it would happen at some point, but that doesn't mean I'm happy about it. We haven't done that much sequencing into the dogwalk. This week was still a nice dogwalk entry, but with a three jumps and a turn before getting on - and for some reason with this approach he would just do a totally different performance - and not a good one. I'm not entirely sure what he was doing, but he wasn't even attempting to meet criteria. We did get one good one in class, rewarded like heck and then put it away. After classes I tried again, hoping with some time and a chance to think about it we would get past it all - but no. Just as bad. Hit lovely WITHOUT the sequence going into it, but just not even the same behavior at all with the sequence. Sigh.

I'm sticking to my criteria, and we have to go back and RETRAIN IT, I am - but I don't need another wishy-washy running dogwalk. If you want to run, you have to be consistent, that's all there is to it. And after several flyoffs I took him out. Came back later and at least got one good rep - and I let him attack the vacuum for it. Work to do. At least, when he's feeling better. Which is hopefully by tomorrow!

Haku was back to obedience this week, I can't believe it's July already. We are tentatively aiming for his next trial to be UKC Open in August - which is VERY SOON. His Open behaviors are still there, and still have their share of issues. Surprisingly, those don't go away magically by not practicing. High as a kite for the dumbell, terrible fronts on his broad jump - and today, a new one, going over any jump he can find instead of doing a drop on recall. Yes, we HAVE spent months on training directed jumping - it's true! But did some group stays, which we haven't done in FOREVER, and he didn't have an issue. Onwards and upwards.

Signed up for a fun match next weekend, Haku in Open and Utility, and some novice run throughs for Eva and Navarre - which is much more questionable what they might do. But good exposure. Still tenatively planning to give Utility another shot in September, but that may be optimistic. Taking the show on the road always reveals issues.

I now think that the whole summer is going to be like it has been - which has been GLORIOUS. I break from classes in a few weeks for summer - and I'm so not ready yet. Normally it's just so hot and nasty I can't take it anymore. This weather though ... I can do anything in this weather. Happy happy.

This picture of Tucker and Mable together was an epic undertaking - 9 week old terriers are not good at posing

Look who just loves frolicking with terriers!

ZOMG, just one way too cute puppy


Yes, everyone should get puppies

More herding!

Navarre got to play with the sheeps again today. I worked with him this time, and, wow, he's just so different than Londan and Haku, I get frantic and start waving the stick around like a weapon. This is probably why I couldn't use a stick with Haku, I'm a danger when you give me a prop. I have zero experience with a dog that wants to come into the sheep all the time and chase them, and my natural response is to swing a stick at him until he stops that. Haku and London had a pretty natural stock sense and balance. Navarre has no lack of enthusiasm, but that's about as far as it goes.

Still, Navarre is progressing, and he's trying - he's a good boy. The question for me today was do I continue just trying to get him to figure out that overflanking all the time is just a waste of time, or have him lie down to 'show' him what I want. Probably easier to start with the down to begin with, and I would appreciate not being run over by the sheep all the time. So, yeah, still just trying to get him to understand the basic idea - and to keep him off the damn sheep. Baby steps in that direction, I'm optmistic we'll figure it out eventually.

Meanwhile, sister Dove looks GREAT! I think she's going to be quite the herding dog, really cool to watch her with just the limited exposure she's had. If I had to say, I assume Dove herds like their mom (whom she looks like) and Navarre probably like his dad (I can only assume!). VERY different styles, really fun to watch. We'll see when we can see sheeps again, I think Navarre can get this - and hopefully eventually Haku can join us. And make everything feel much less frantic.

Anne let us play at her place on our way home today, so I finally got another session of 2x2s in with Navarre. This was his third session and I'm really happy with how he's progressing. Our second session was working with food in the basement and moving the poles to 'straight' position. He had no issue with that, though not very dynamic with the food. This session worked up to the straight position with his frisbee, and that looked much better!  I'd like to do a little more with just one set, but he's about ready for two, I think. And some rather lame and self released stops on a new dogwalk, we'll keep working on it.

Back at home Fenwick is looking really good, let him run around outside and didn't see any limp during or after activity. Knock on wood, hopefully he just tweaked himself and now he's fine. Haku also looks good, working on conditioning exercises and stretches. He had no obedience at all last week, he's more than a little nutty at the moment.

We had a couple loud bangs with fireworks the other night, London was a little worried, but mostly seemed okay as long as he was sitting near me. Still have the ACTUAL 4th of July to go, but things aren't normally too bad out here. Navaree has not seemed to notice anything. I've been pretty lucky in that regard.

Got to say goodbye to Demi's Briard puppies today, they're 8 weeks old tomorrow and soon off to their new homes. The girl I picked at a day old remains my favorite, I'm beginning to trust my puppy picking instincts. Really a lot of fun to watch puppies grow up, today the puppies got to meet ducks. Briard puppies are a lot more, uh, vigorous with poultry than my puppies were.

Such well behaved puppies!

Spotting ducks

The ducks were like, "WTF?"

Curious girl

Wherever there are puppies, Anne is not far behind


More fierce!

Beautiful mama ready to get back to life without puppies!

A well timed beach trip

Oh yeah, definitely timed it right for a beach trip with the holiday weekend, left on Thursday and came back on Saturday - smooth sailing! So much traffic these days, you have to be proactive. And I ended up with a very well behaved group of dogs too - the London/Bright/Navarre combo turned out to be super easy. I guess I know who the good dogs are, they really were so well behaved. Well, Navarre IS still a puppy, but he did way better than I thought he would. He definitely made sure to clean up any food that was left out on the counters - so helpful.

Ended up that I couldn't use the guest room, which meant dogs spent a lot of time in the yard - but they didn't complain. And when inside they didn't cause a commotion - they just hung out. That Navarre is such a level headed guy for his age, he just makes himself at home and was such a good boy. I know I keep calling them good dogs, but that's what happened - and apparently I don't get enough of that from the dogs NOT at the beach. A-hem. Eva, Fenwick, Brisbee and Haku - I'm looking at you. Apparently I left all the high maintenence dogs with Bruce.

Lovely trip, the dogs had a great time, I didn't break London - good times.