Brr - cold out there! Just when I think Spring is here we get more 'wintry mix'. I'm postponing my birthday until later this year, when it's warmer. I really want to go take the dogs somewhere where they can swim to their heart's content - which is really something better done in the summer. Though no lack of standing water around here this year, that's for sure. The problem with turning 40 is that you should have an EXCITING birthday, and I'm not ready for that at the moment.
Guess who is ready for 'Big Boy Obedience' though? Navarre! I had been bringing him in for the last 10-15 minutes of Haku's group class the last few weeks, and he was doing great and having a lot of fun. This week I brought him for the beginning of class, and he did his first off lead group heeling exercise - and he was fabulous! He thought it was a little weird, but for the most part was right there with me and working without getting too distracted by the other dogs. He really is growing up these days, such a good boy. Our biggest hole in his obedience training is stays. He actually stays pretty well, but he will not stay in one position. He's up, he's down, he's rolling around. And that's all me, as that is my criteria at home - you have to stay, but I don't care what you do as long as you stay in that area. But I really have no interest in group stays, so if we ever do compete it will probably be in preferred. Though they still have a stay exercise in preferred novice, I suppose. Hm, maybe we should actually work on that.
As for Haku, we're already so much more relaxed about obedience. Now that I know we CAN do it, it's funny how much easier it all seems. And I'm going to have say, Haku has some pretty awesome go-outs these days. I don't know if I could train them again with another dog in the same way, however, as we took such a winding road to get where we are. He really understands going all the way to the wall, no props, no 'fake outs'. He has a behavior with criteria and he does it - and he LOVES it. Straightness, well, that's another story, but hey.
And, oh yeah, his dumbbell retrieve is kind of shitty. It did not magically get better by not working on it all this time. His pickups are not at all clean, he knocks it around and frantically grabs at it multiple times, readjusts on return, all sorts of issues. It is, technically, all perfectly legal, but he can do better. He certainly doesn't do that sort of thing with articles. And his fronts with the dumbbell after all that - yeah. Lots to work on with that exercise. Broadjump looks pretty good though. 10 inch broad jump is pretty cute though. Drop on recall looks great! Will be fun to play in Open again.
The best part of the week was getting this amazing present from Ellie for Haku's utility title:
She drew Haku! She got the eyes and everything, that was just the sweetest present. She has been incredibly patient with us through our whole obedience journey. I do not claim to be the best student, and I always do things my own convoluted way despite good advice to the contrary. Ellie never got frustrated with us though (uh, that she let show), she was always supportive and Haku loves her so very much. A little too much, actually. He can't watch if she's competing in obedience (and they always seem to be right before us!). So thankful we had the opportunity to learn all the many ins and outs of obedience with privates with Ellie, as it is a whole different world with so many unwritten rules. And I know we have never been Ellie's favorite, as she HATES barking - so you know she had to be EXTRA patient with us. Who knew that our one lesson all those years ago would lead us to where we are now. We have certainly had our share of ups and downs along the way, but I can say Haku really, really loves his obedience.
In other news, Bright had a few days on rest, then I gradually returned her to activity this week. Knock on wood, no more limping. I could still see it just a little on Sat/Sun, but nothing after that. Hiking on Friday was the big test, and no signs of favoring it that I could see during or after. I hope it was nothing more serious, we'll see it returns. One nice thing about hiking is I get to see a lot of extended trotting, which is always handy for seeing if something is off. She looked really balanced (and very happy!). Though if you want to see a trot, no one can beat Navarre - he can move out like it's nothing. The other dogs will be running, but he's keeping up just at a trot.
Bonus points if you can find Bright in this picture
I tried to make a video of Haku and Bright playing 'Stick' when they hike, but as soon as I brought out the camera they got all weird, of course. Still, you get the basic idea, and probably sea sick. There are a lot of rules involved with 'Stick', and we often keep just one stick for the majority of the hike - once 'The Stick' is chosen, they don't like to deviate.
And Navarre thinks 'Stick' is the stupidest game ever - he's obviously not a real border collie
Do you recognize this sheep in the front?
How about the two to the left? Heidi got the herding sheep sheared, and they look ridiculous - their heads are so big! And they all seem to be pregnant, with lambs due the end of the month. I have more sympathy for Gretchen, my bitchy sheep, now that she's all scrawny. And it doesn't hurt that she's more outgoing and tame than the other two, she'll come get treats. It's possible she is carrying twins, will be fun to see all the babies. Of course, that also means no more herding for a while, which is a bummer. Good thing lambs are cute.
And look who is also cute! Cake is 8 months old already, so pretty much full grown at this point (though I expect her to get fluffier!)
Suddenly, Navarre looks all manly - when did that happen?
Love my tiny Brightness