Spring Cup Revisited

Set up the jumpers course from the Spring Cup for classes this week, that was a fun course to look at again.  Amusingly, on our second 'attempt' at this course, both dogs had completely different faults than at the trial. Bright went to the wrong end of a tunnel (admittedly, I WAS pushing in that direction!), Navarre ran past a push back serp (that's all on him, he's normally so good with these!) - but they both got the weaves, so, hey. We did try the weaves as both a rear cross and the blind crossing the exit, the rear cross was so much easier in my mind. Also did the awkward pull into them that I originally attempted with Bright at the trial, and Navarre did it, but it's just awkward and clunky.

Made some trialing decisions and did decide to enter the USDAA trial in May with Navarre, in Performance 20 inches. Not as cheap as CPE, but still cheaper than AKC and we can do a lot of runs and hopefully get some of the sightseeing out. Also entered a one ring AKC trial down in Eugene, a new location for him, and just a good schedule with a good judge. I'm giving Bright the benefit of the doubt and entered her in a full weekened, but if we still can't pull it together for anything down there, we'll go on a trialing break. Not entering Bright in the USDAA show, just going to focus on Navarre and getting his baby dog on. We have three seminar-ish things in the next few months, hoping that will help Bright and I get our groove back.

Go Pixel!

I look good with a pyrshep, if I do say so myself:

Pixel is like ... 15 months?  Somewhere in there, such a fun girl, Carol has done a wonderful job with her. And this was Pixel's first time running agility with someone other than her mom - she has skills! Though, to be fair, Carol kindly edited out the bits of Pixel attempting to kill me by darting under my legs.


Look, it's Tempie! Julie has moved back from the East coast and it was really fun to see her again. Hard to believe that Tempie is 9 now, she is Beanieweenie's sister. We puppyraised Bean back in the day, he is the reason we have Haku. So Tempie and Bean are half siblings to Haku. Haku got his sweetness from the Nel side of the family. He got his nuttiness from his dad, Zing, who, unfortunately, has been struggling with cancer. Just breaks my heart, he's only 10, and I see so much of Haku in him - I feel for Gabrielle.

Got to meet Bueller, he's Tempie's son - I don't see a lot of resemblence! Handsome boy, sweet goofball - my favorite type

Speaking of sweet goofballs, video of Navarre from the Spring Cup! SUCH a good boy, very proud of him. There is video of Bright too on youtube ... it is less impressive, even when I cut out a lot of her running amuck. A-hem.

Got to see my lambs! At least, I think this is them:

I believe that's Aloha on the left and Cornelius on the right (lambs were named after Oregon towns this year - I went with names you wouldn't get too attached too)

Gretchen actually seems like she's an okay mom. Well, at least maybe by comparison. Apparently the wooly dogbroke sheep are, well, not very bright. And not very good at keeping track of their babies. Gretchen seemed a little more on it, and at least wasn't trying to run away from her babies. I would have thought sheep would be more concerned about where their babies were - but these sheep seemed very casual about it. We went to move them to the other pasture, and practically half the babies got stuck behind a fence - their moms could care less, they just left them behind. And the sheep don't seem particularly concerned which ones are theirs, which I thought was kind of a sheep thing. But it all worked out, the babies seemed happy and doing their own thing, they're growing quickly and seem very healthy. Last I saw there were still two moms waiting to deliver, and all the rest had gone smoothly.

I admit, lambs are really cute - and some are just cuter than others

For instance, here in the middle we have Otis - who is adorable just because he's attractively marked

Look at that swagger, he knows he looks good

This is one of the half breeds, half hair sheep, half wooly - check out how her front half is curly and back half is straight

These two feel like the attractive lambs should stick together

Possibly Cornelius

Rosie's favorites

Happy sheep plays with a leaf - yeah, lambs are cute

Spring Cup

I really do hope the international cups catch on, just my kind of agility. Fun day, courses were great, people were great, good times. Thankfully I made it to the trial, as, once again, Rosie had to come jumpstart my car. You know, with the jumper cables she bought me years ago. Because she kept having to jumpstart my car. Not much has changed. Only now I have jumper cables. Very thankful for Rosie and Tammy taking a detour on their way this morning. I'd like to say it will be the last time ... but let's be realistic.

As for the agility, Bright and I are still not on the same page. Sometimes I think Bright and I aren't even reading the same book these days. Yet I'm always quite confident we can do the things, and continually surprised when it doesn't happen. The fact that I'm frustrated with Bright clearly indicates my lack of a plan of what to do about it all. If I had a response, a plan, an inkling of what I should do, I could get moving on it. Instead I just keep going, "Bright, seriously?" And we redo things, and it makes no difference whatsoever. We train things, yet we still don't seem to have the behaviors. I correct things, it makes no difference. I try splitting things down, starting from the basics, we just can't seem to get on the same page. We're still having fun, but I'll admit to feel like I'm spinning my wheels and just doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result. Still don't have a plan. And, of course, sometimes we CAN do the things, like we used to be able to do the things - this doesn't help. But there is always the Penny Plan: Do More of It. We like agility, we should do more of it, until we get back into sync. It could happen, you never know.

Navarre, on the other hand, remains an easy baby. Any issues were me. Well, except for the teeter on our mulligan run - what is with my dogs and just running the teeter? Bright was just blatent, as that's her new thing (she's been doing it consistently almost every competition run recently) - but Navarre too was like, "Stopping on the teeter? Don't be silly, that's so last week." I'm very consistent with the teeter stops (and marking self releases), it's not like I've been at all lax in criteria, so that's a bit of a puzzler. Poor Navarre, as I was having to SCREAM at Bright attempting to get her to come into me (still didn't work), I screwed up his standard run with ridiculous overhandling from 15-16 and called him off the teeter completely. In jumpers I screwed up NOT calling him after 11 as I was so amazed he easily did the threadle that Bright never even acknowledged, he went off course over the #10 jump. Running Bright first is NOT helpful, let's just say that.

Navarre was just being such a good thoughtful baby dog. I'm really happy with his skills and his focus in this arena is really good. It's at the big trials where there is a lot more going on that he gets into sightseeing and multitasking, I felt like I had his attention today. Not sure when his next trial will be, I'll have to take a look at what is coming up. Our CPE planned failed, and no multi-ring CPE trials in the near future, so I guess it's back to AKC. We're also done with our online Justine classes, so kind of at loose ends these days without any specific homework. Always something to work on in agility though!

Spring Hikers

Spring! It's official, suddenly everywhere you look, there it is. It may still be wet, but we've turned a corner. Of course, now I feel like I missed a lot of my 'Spring' and worry about getting everything squared away before Summer arrives. A big priority is finding hiking that will work during the summer. Looking for places that aren't too busy, have a lot of shade, not too steep and at least some water for the dogs.

Today we tried a different trail and it was lovely! I don't know how busy it will be in the summer though. We ran across a group of horses  and two sets of hikers today. So we'll see. Though, let it be said how good the border collies are. They are just such GOOD dogs, I don't worry about them at all. I don't worry about them doing anything stupid, and I don't worry about coming across other people. They come right to me, they ignore the dogs and people (and horses!) we pass. And they're so HAPPY, there is nothing like border collies to make everything seem fun. They are simple creatures, in the nicest sense, so easily amused. All you need is a stick. Really, you don't even need the stick.

I keep hearing these horror stories about other breeds. Like the GSP that took off into the river chasing seals and wouldn't come back and nearly drowned. The terv that is so prey obsessed she can't be let off lead hiking or she'll get lost chasing wildlife. The terrier that, well, can't be let off lead at all and wants to kill other dogs. Border collies really are easy, and I feel very lucky I can do these things and not worry they're going to do anything stupid. And they like me, and they think I'm really fun and endlessly amusing. There is something very charming about that.

Speaking of dogs that find me fun, Navarre is so much better these days with the whole intact deal. His obnoxious behavior seemed to wax and wane with Dove being in season. And maybe it was just a coincidence, but he's so much less angsty at the moment. He just seems like Navarre again, and while he's still exploring the wonders of pee licking I have tentatively given him a neuter reprieve. Keeping in mind that he stil technically has until May, we'll see if I change my mind.

Another big bonus of Normal Navarre returning, he's not obsessively grooming Fizban anymore. Which means that Fizban's weird bump on his head seems to be going back to normal. I had brought Fizzy into the vet to get it checked out, but they were no help at all. Woodburn vet, not impressed. So, the assumption is that the grooming aggravated the bump, and now that he's not doing that anymore, the bump is going back to normal. Not that we know what the bump is still (he's had it for years).

Unexpected obedience

Playing around with a little obedience at the arena this morning before classes. Suddenly, Haku had beautiful and consistent pick ups with his dumbbell. Where the heck did that come from? Was it because it was on concrete? Hm. Lots of marking and rewarding the behavior, super happy with that improvement, wherever it magically came from. Also testing a few signal stays, no scooting. Gold star to Haku!

Haku being totally random is not exactly news, but Navarre suddenly decided he really wanted to retrieve the dumbbell today. He kept pushing in while I was working Haku, so I randomly threw one for him and he RAN, and he ran BACK - what the? Latent learning from our failed frisbee session? Suddenly not so serious about it all, he was loose and goofy. Huh. We did like three throws, it wasn't a fluke, today at least, he actually seemed to enjoy dumbbell retrieves. And after each successful retrieve we ran back into the arena and played frisbee - he much preferred this approach. Which is basically true for all my dogs, they like rewards, not lures. Like if I put the toy straight ahead off a contact and asked them to do their running or stopped contact, they do NOT like that - they don't find that fun at all. However, if I drop the toy in the same place AFTER they do the behavior, they think that's super fun. A good lesson here, I think.

Then even more breakthroughs for Obedience Navarre, tried an experiment with his recalls. Once again, he CAN do it, but has always thought it was pretty dumb and is very serious, slow and methodical about it. Using 'lures' like throwing a toy as he comes in, backing up, calling, patting my legs, rewarding through my legs, and, of course, rewarding the heck when he gets to me with toys and treats - no, he could care less. It's dumb, he sees no reason to hurry. Keep in mind, this is also the dog that thought restrained recalls were dumb as a puppy. He's just not wired like my other dogs, so it's been a puzzle. Luckily his sister is the same way, so I know it's not just me!

Part of it is they have lots of 'rules'. Like Dove doesn't want to play with the toy unless you ask her to do a behavior first, then she's all over it. Navarre only plays with toys in certain situations where it's been 'established'. So if you come to my house, pick up a toy and throw it, Haku and Bright with be running around like maniacs ... and Navarre will just be laying on the couch, completely uninterested. If you take that same toy and throw it in the field, Navarre will not LET the other dogs have to toy, he is completely engaged and beats the other dogs to the toy every time. Explain that one to me.

Anyway, so a big reason why I 'fired' Navarre from obedience when he was younger as I didn't want him practicing doing obedience slowly and methodically - and I couldn't find any good solutions to bring him in the game. He just thought it was dumb, and when he has decided something, it's hard to change his mind. Luckily, he had decided agility was fun at that point, so we focused on that. Slightly more mature Navarre is getting into obedience again, but the recall was still not joyful. However, today we got our first fast, enthusiastic fronts! I'll admit to some skepticism whether this will continue to work, but it was an INSTANT fix ... for today, at least. I just had him come do his flip through my legs trick. That's pretty much it. He has an association of running fast for that as we use it playing frisbee, having him come through my legs and then I throw the frisbee. So I asked him for that a few times, rewarding the heck out of it. So I called him with his 'through' cue, then asked him to 'front' when he got close and, BAM, he was sliding into position like no one's business. So we played a game of mostly rewarding for 'through', and occasionally asking for a 'front' and he was all about that game. There was much rewarding and frisbee throwing. Now, whether this will help him realize that recalls are fun, that remains to be seen. Still, for today, we had fun doing obedience!

Pretend Finals

Set up the AKC NAC Finals course for classes this week. Well, a variation of it, naturally. Though the part I was able to put into the arena was fairly close to coursemap.

It was a fun course, fun to look at the different options through the dogwalk. I much preferred the pushback serp on #2 for both dogs, and the blind cross between 4 and 5 as well. Both of my dogs found the wrap to the inside at #2 to be a fun killer. But the real test was seeing what happened the FIRST time we ran it, just like we were actually there! And for Bright, she got a rerun due to a loose dog on course her first time through - then I ended up pulling her off a jump for her 'real' attempt. Tweet! And Navarre took out jump #8 his first run through, and I did a terrible job cueing from the aframe to the end - whoops. So, yeah, no national champions around here, much easier to find that out at home than travel across the country.

Back to the drawing board with Navarre and the dumbbell retrieve. Took the dumbbell out the park today with the frisbee and attempted to work on sending to retrieve the dumbbell and then throwing the frisbee on his way back. Oh, he thought this was SO STUPID. I gave it a good attempt, as I figured he would warm up once he figured out the game, but I could never get him to have any actual enthusiasm to getting the dumbbell - and in fact you could tell it just made him bitter about the dumbbell as it was obviously just stopping him from enjoying his frisbee. So, huh. Might just put that one away until he's older.

Back from the Beach

I am notoriously bad with dates and numbers, it wasn't until I was an adult that I realized I'm probably mildly dyslexic. I use this information as an excuse to not do many things, one of which is to remember people's birthdays. Which is really quite annoying, as everyone remembers MINE (being on a holiday), then I feel doubly bad when I have no idea when their birthday is at all. I do think that a birthday is a personal thing, if you want to have a party and celebrate - have a party and let the world know! If you'd rather not, that's cool too. Still, I always remember my mother's birthday and Tammy's birthday as they are not only super close to mine, but combined they make up my birthday date. My mom was born the 1st, Tammy the 7th, and, hence, they are the only birthdays I remember all year. So, yes, hint-hint, if you have a birthday coming up, give Heather plenty of warning, as I LIKE celebrating birthdays - I'm just terrible at remembering them.

Went down to the beach over the weekend to have a birthday hurrah with my mom. As usual, I ended up with some LOVELY weather at the beach. At least on Saturday. Friday was still dry, but WINDY. Which was still pretty fun watching the birds flying in place against the wind, then turning around and getting whisked away. Dogs don't mind a little wind! Then Saturday was ridiculously perfectly nice, party cloudy, perfect temp, just a lovely day. I do very much enjoy the beach, and it's nice being a bit closer to my folks than I used to be. Dogs had SO much fun, Navarre especially was so upset when we were driving home today he whined for like an hour, sure we were going to the beach again. They were good doggies, except for Haku eating his food so fast without his 'slow feed' bowl he threw it all back up again on their carpet. Sigh.

Had kind of a weird week of agility. After feeling not so smooth with the dogs recently, and espcially at the last trial, the goal was to have some nice, successful, smooth coursework in practice. Ha! The trend continued of us just not seeming to be on the same page. At one point I spent two days retraining Navarre how to go over a broad jump. He was SURE he was supposed to go around the end posts like you enter for weavepoles. So we would fix it, reward the heck out of it, put an obstacle in front of it - looked good. Then I would put it back into sequence and he would do it AGAIN. Arrrgh! Just GOOFY stuff, but it was like we could not get through anything - crazy.

I did decide that I thought it would be a good idea to go do some CPE with Navarre, there is a trial coming up in April that we could enter. He just needs ring experience, and paying for AKC while doing that is insane. I'm not a fan of CPE games, but we could get in a lot of runs at an inexpensive price and maybe get some of his sightseeing out of his system. Besides, I haven't been to a CPE trial in years, it would be helpful for me to see what it's like these days. But in order to enter you need to have a number for your dogs, which you can only do by sending in a form - and the trial closes next week. Sometimes I wonder how we can live in this computer world and there is still all this SENDING THINGS THROUGH THE MAIL crap. Hmph.

Watched just a little of the AKC national finals when I got home today - two of Bright's siblings were in the finals! Go Jack and Vette! Fun to see them run, as well as other NW folks too. It's coming back to the West coast next year, but it's just not an event I'm interested in going to. And walking courses at 6am - that's crazy! I think they do a good job of making it feel like a special event, much more than USDAA. If the UKI Open ever comes back to the west coast, I would travel to that. Of course, to do anything you have to actually be able to get through a course, which I swear we could not do this week.

Haku was the herding champion of obedience though. Every week for this session a different student taught a trick to the rest of the class. This week a lady brought these big stuffed sheeps and the trick was teaching your dog 'away' and 'go-bye' around the stuff sheep. Oh, Haku was ALL about this! The funny part is we started with one stuffed sheep which Haku wanted to chomp and play with, but then we moved to another sheep, that, admittedly, looked more 'sheep-like', and that one he would only 'herd'. And he eventually did inside flanks and was going on verbals and walking up and everything. We accidentally did our herding homework! Such a happy Haku, we need to get a stuffed sheep to practice this at home.

Haku is entered in THREE days of the obedience trial up in Canby, which is so close to our place it seems like it would be wrong NOT to enter all the days. So Open and Utility, we'll see how it goes, and whether he implodes as the weekend goes on. We did work on our dumbbell grabs, which improved GREATLY at home, but did not transfer to class. He can, technically, do all the things for Open and Utility, but not always super pretty. I hope we have fun, I'm looking forward to it.

Navarre continues to improve with his heeling and stays, worked a little on his dumbbell as well - OMG, so serious! So we're going to go play with throwing his dumbbell in one direction and then throwing a frisbee in the other direction when he returns to see if he can get into a more 'play' retrieve.

Bright and Navarre are entered in the Spring Cup next weekend, which after this week I'm not feeling very optimistic about it. I know we'll have fun, but adjusting expectations DOWNWARD. Hm, now that I look at it, that CPE trial is the same weekend we've already signed up 'run a lot of international courses' at Daisy's. Well, that sounds fun too!

Birthdays and puppies and trials

Had some lovely birthday celebrations this week, and I'm just going to keep on rolling through the rest of the year - the year of turning 40. Because why not, the party that never ends. Well, until next year, as you can't go around spending all year celebrating 41, because that's hardly a big round even number.

For my actual birthday I got to go play with puppies - Mudi puppies! There was talk of playing inside on yet another soggy spring day, but I was having none of that - throw those puppies outside for their first time, they will have to get used to rain sooner or later. They were about four and a half weeks old, which, let's be honest, is kind of a funky age of giant heads and drunken waddling. Still, their little curls and adorable puppy bobble heads! Puppies are just adorable.

Really nice, outgoing litter. First time outside (and it was not warm), first time meeting us, all new surfaces and tunnel and wobble board - and they just took it all in stride. I was really surprised to see them so into people already, especially Maroon Boy, who was a favorite all around, he loved the people. Fun litter though, I believe it was NINE puppies, which is crazy especially when they all look alike. There were certainly the troublemakers, the loud one (Blue Boy), the adventurous Red girl, the incredibly sassy Purple girl. Will be fun to see them in another couple weeks if I get back there.

If anyone is looking for a Mudi, this is a nice litter. I really like the parents, they are both fun, happy, outgoing dogs that are fast and having a great time in agility. I think there would be some nice performance dogs in that litter: http://www.cruzynmudikennels.com/

We actually went to a trial today! And, boy, was it muddy. And Bright really likes to jump up and hug my butt. With her muddy self. I was pretty coated, from top to bottom, in mud by the end of the day. Dogs had fun, though we were sort of all over the place. I thought the courses were fun, and it was a smaller trial going tall to small, so it ran really smoothly.

I thought that Bright was just being exceptionally goofy going off course in standard by going WAY over to the other side of the ring, but then Navarre did the same thing, but more so, and I decided it must have been me. Though Bright didn't stop on EITHER teeter today, and she found it annoying that I would ask. New and Improved Bright continues to do her own thing, and I can never quite guess what that thing may be. Today was a lot of off courses (and teeter running). Premier I'll take responsibility for, as it was a serp line that I suddenly didn't trust her to actually DO, so threw up a weird threadle arm and ended up causing just what I had been trying to avoid. Lovely running dogwalk though! Standard she did NOT turn into me on her collection cue as we had studiously practiced since the LAST time she had this issue in international league. Yeah, New and Improved Bright thinks that's stupid. And jumpers I rear crossed, and that's all I really need to say about that. Though, to be fair, she DID rear cross, just not the right jump. A-hem. HAPPY though, ever so happy - we had fun.

Navarre was also very happy to be there! Barkbarkbark! And it doesn't help when I run to get him after running Bright and forget to bring treats. I do think he actually is a little more connected with me before our runs though, he just gets bored waiting, he's still such a puppy. He just had standard and jumpers, same issue of going off course, and even farther than Bright on the standard course. It was like running a NADAC dog - whoosh! Contacts looked good, weaves first go, but very thoughtful - I need to remember he sucks at serpentines in competition. Coming into me is not his first inclination at trials, he's definitely multitasking. Jumpers went a little better, more sensible, but slower weaves (into nothing), but dropped a bar when he was doing a bit of sightseeing around a corner and I called him. But that was 2 for 2 in the weave department and didn't run around ANY jumps! Did I mention that Bright did? Just ran past the last jump to get her leash today - I swear, she likes to mix it up.

So, yeah, we had fun, but did not have our agliity groove on. Navarre needs exposure and practice in that busy environment, and the big wide spacing is very different with him as he has such a big stride - can't really replicate that in the tiny practice barns. Admittedly, Bright has been on break from agility, but I just keep assuming that she can DO THIS. She used to be SO EASY, I have yet to really accept New and Improved Bright, and continue to be surprised when she's all, "Wheeee!" We could also use some actual trialing exposure. Which we would have had, if we didn't have to throw away all our entry fees on trials we couldn't go to in January. Now we're going to shift back to international coursework as that's what we have coming up. We'll see if we get back to our AKC groove later this year.

In other news, Haku has been working on relearning his obedienc 'place' cue as a hand signal. So for all his exercises, rather than saying 'place' I'm using just a hand signal, so he's used to seeing that and understands exactly which 'stay' cue I am asking for. The theory being that he never really understood that his hand signal for stay in signals was 'place' and not a 'wait' (where he can move around). So we're being consistent and working on his opposite motion 'place' with leash tension. He's figured out this game, but will still fairly often move a foot, so been playing with that.

On our homework we also have retraining a dumbbell pickup, where he acts like he's never picked up an object in his life. He CAN just calmly pick it up (like in articles), but the thrown dumbbell throws him into a fit of regripping and chomping before he even picks it up. So need to work on that which was not magically fixed by not doing retrieves while he was working on his utility title. Those are our biggest issues at the moment, his next trial is looking like April.

Navarre is doing so well with his baby obedience! We have just been looking at heeling mostly, some fronts and finishes, figure eights. He does think that group heeling is fun, for whatever reason. He was also doing better on his stays, for no particular reason I could see, but I'm not going to complain. Suddenly he can just ... lie there, without rolling about. No grand ambitions for Navarre in obedience, if he does compete, it won't be until he's much older and more mature. He's just a giant sack of goofy puppy still. Step one is heeling in my mind though, and he's made some great strides recently.

As for Bright, we have been taking it easy since her limp at the last trial, doing some front end conditioning at home, as well as some running about, but no agility or toy chasing. We did a little agility on Thursday, and then again today, of course - so signs of the limp. Knock on wood, hopefully it's been taken care of.

Oh yeah, speaking of agility on Thursday, had set up an exercise with a straight tunnel to look at proofing tunnel threadles and bypasses. Navarre used to be REALLY GOOD with this exercise - ZOMG, not anymore! You know when I have to use Bright as a (really terrible) demo dog that things have gone horribly wrong. Really surprised me, Navarre has great tunnel threadles, and I always thought it was because he had such a great understanding of this exercise. Ha! We have homework to do. Remedial homework.


Nothing like herding to make swearing at your dog seem like a perfectly logical training solution. Haku, for whatever reason, had suddenly decided that 'down' in herding was more of a suggestion then anything else, and that 'stay' was obviously not directed at him at all. This really, really, really doesn't work in herding.

Nagging, reminding, and arguing with him was having no effect, naturally. So today when he started up with the same shit again, I went straight to Swearing Level 10 and startled the bejesus out of him. Then, of course, he was perfect after that. Normally just a disappointed look can crush Haku, but herding is different. Herding teaches you that yelling at your dog is a solid training strategy - because it works. And, in herding, Haku bounces right back like this is a normal way to communicate with your dog. With our down and stay restored, we went back to working on teaching both Haku and me our flanks on verbals. It's a work in progress - mostly because of me.

The big news, Navarre was actually kinda, sorta herding today. In that he actually seems to have started to feel his sheep instead of just running around like he has no clue. He actually had some distance (just a little!)! He almost was thinking of balance occasionally, and just felt so much more relaxed and clear headed. As he was giving and having some distance, I felt so much more relaxed myself, like we were out there together for once. So maybe the start of something good? I have no expectations for him herding other than to have a good time, and he LOVES it. But he had shown no feel for his sheep or any real natural ability (unlike sister Dove, who looks AWESOME!).

So, we shall see, but this was our rainy windy hurrah to herding for a bit. The sheep will be having their lambs soon. But the current theory is to sell them as feeder lambs so we can still do some herding this Spring. We'll see how it goes.

I'll admit, I just find agility way more fun than herding. But, to be fair, I have never gotten really involved in herding, so we'll see how it goes. The goal is to do at least one competition with Haku this year at some point. Maybe Navarre, if he can do some baby baby stuff, but he'll just be along for the ride.

Random Pixel!

Uh oh, Spring is coming

It's been such a long, cold winter one could almost forget that Spring is coming - and all that entails. But, out of the blue, we had a lovely 60 degree day today - just for Hiking Friday! I've had some pretty good luck with the weather on Fridays. However, as it was so much warmer than it has been, suddenly I'm dreading summer like crazy.

So today we went on an extra long hike because Summer Heather will certainly not want to. Winter Heather can go forever! Summer Heather is very whiny and wimpy, but Winter Heather is all hardcore. Well, relatively speaking. Heat really is my nemesis. Today was just perfect though, and the dogs had a wonderful time, as always. Then we came home and weeded. Ugh, more things you don't have to worry about in the winter. And the back already needs mowing - it begins.

Still, it has been just cold and wet and windy this week, dogs did not get much action. Still taking it easy with Bright, and Navarre is on agility-lite as well after our experiments at 24 inches. We've been working on obedience more than anything this week, and guess who got to play a little at obedience class? Bright! Bright will not be doing obedience, most definitely not her thing, but we were doing a little clicker training exercise to start with so she got to play with that. It was amusing to have Bright in 'obedience' though. Bright doesn't even know how to heel (gasp!). Well, not officially. She obviously can do circle work, fast and slow, and recall to heel, she probably COULD heel just fine. Really, Bright doesn't have a lot of back up careers, so she'd better be able to play agility. She would hate obedience, she's afraid of sheep, she's not going to go dock diving, certainly wouldn't like flyball. Hm, yeah, Bright likes agility!

Navarre thinks that obedience is okay though, and we've been continuing to work on his baby skills. He can do some good stuff! And then sometimes not so good stuff, but hey, he's having a good time. This week in class he did great with his group heeling for the most part, but reverted to forging like a maniac with his figure 8. I have created somewhat of a monster for fronts, as I have been rewarding between my legs. So now he comes to front and then if a treat is not forthcoming he tries slamming through my legs to find the treat. But he's not going slow!

Definitely a weird feel to Navarre lately, he's way more sensitive. While he has been better with the manly stuff, he's really decided to flirt with Fizban. There is much obsessing and poking and ear cleaning and speculative looks about what he can get away with. He occasionally gives it a try with Bright. She is having none of that. Both Bright and Navarre are hiding around the corner of the house if the small children are in the yard next door. I can only hope that having kids around all the time helps Bright with her issues, but I'm thinking she's just giving her issues to Navarre. His coat may be pretty, but that's too bad, he's still on the chopping block for May. Hopefully we'll make it that long.

As for Haku, he's my rock, and we're trying to make him into a rock for obedience. A rock that doesn't creep forward on his stay while I walk away in signals. We have decided that Haku does not actually know that this is a 'Place'. Haku very much knows the difference between his verbal 'Wait' vs 'Place', one of which he is free to fidget and scoot, the other is not. However, signals are obviously silent, so he's never really been officially proofed on what a silent stay signal is - which is a 'Place'. So back to the drawing board there, and this week we're looking at opposition reflex, using the silent stay cue and then gently pulling on a leash as I walk away. He's kind of got the game, but he's not solid on it yet.

I went to enter him in obedience at the end of the month - once again, no preferred class at that trial. Seriously? Preferred is the red-headed step child of obedience, that's for sure. And yet, the response to anyone that expresses concern about the safety of group stays is, "If you're concerned about it, go do preferred." Well, good luck with that.

A new game of Find the Brightness (hint, Navarre knows where she is!)

This one is slightly easier, as if you find Haku, you've found Bright

Stopping to admire the view

Filthy hiking buddies

The Smallest Room

Okay, this is not real classy, but it did just crack me up and I had to take a picture. Taking 'following me to the bathroom' to a whole new level. My little toilet closet is a TINY room, but that is not discouraging anyone here.

Stick, and other goodness

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

Woah, March

Well March certainly snuck up on me, seems crazy that 2017 has gone by that fast. February had some nice days, but a gloomier, colder, wetter February than normal. Still not complaining though, I'd rather have cold than hot, and rain rather then sun. Soon enough it will be all hot, blinding sun and bugs everywhere. I'm in no rush, I hope we have a long, cool Spring. Though apparently we stole all our cold weather from the East coast this year, funny how that happens.

Navarre will be two next month! Though, to be fair, it's the end of April, so still pretty much two months from now. A big milestone though, I may neuter him for his birthday. He has been better, but very much still moody, distracted and into his nose. Admittedly, it does seem like all the girls are going into season at the moment, but I think he's sealed the deal - he'll most likely be neutered in May.

We did do one more week of playing around at 24 inches, catching up on the last of his Justine homework. I think it's been a good experiment, a good training and jumping exercise, but we're both happier at 20. As for USDAA ... well, we'll see. Looking forward to the next local 'international cup' in April, that is my kind of agility.

Also been working on our obedience, he's way more into it now that he's older - including thinking that recalls are actually kind of fun! I haven't pushed it though, we do a couple fast, fun reps and move on. Mostly been looking at heeling, it's always about heeling in obedience. He really believed that he should heel forging ahead about a foot in front of me, not sure where that came from. So we've been working on always rewarding behind my back with the opposite arm. And even after many, many repetitions where the treat is always delivered that way, he continues to look surprised to find it back there. Still, it does seem to be having an effect, we're finally being able to heel some inside circles without tripping over each other. Still a work in progress, but he's finding it pretty fun.

Meanwhile, Haku now gets to enter Open again! Look out, dumbbells, here comes Haku! He SO loves his dumbbells. We haven't been doing retrieves or drop on recall while working on his utility title, so it'll be fun to come back to those exercises again. The end of March there is another obedience competition with an agility show, but now I have to decide if I dare attempt to do both. It's one thing to squeeze in one obedience run with the agility, it's another to do both Open and Utility AND multiple dogs in agility. Hm. See, I need a back up handler for my dogs in agility. And I can just have one day of agility and one day of obedience, Albany is so much closer then it used to be. And then there is the big obedience show in Canby in April - SO CLOSE! I like Hubbard.

Still need to keep exploring potential hiking spots, where we've been going is not going to be a good summer option. But, boy, has it be wet and crazy - and this week is not shaping up to be any different.

Purple ring buds

Hard to believe that Fred is 9

I believe Razor is also 9 - crazy

Giant puppy is still giant, and at 4 months weighs more than Bright

Look at this talented PUD dog (though, let it be said, apparently technically the title abbreviation for preferred utility dog is NOT PUD. It's PCD, PCDX, and even PUDX - but for some reason preferred utility title is PUTD, which is not nearly as cute. He'll always be a PUD to me though)

Molly has things to say

Love you, Fred!

Utility Dog Haku!

Haku's Utility title was somewhat anticlimactic as I thought we NQ'd on the second exercise. Always learning new things in obedience, and today's lesson was that the judge doesn't have to choose two matching number articles to use. I certainly thought that was the rule, or, at least, the unwritten rule. There are a lot of rules in obedience. But, yeah, first article was a 5, so when Haku brought me back a 6 for the second one I was like, "Oh well." And I was pretty goofy after that, including petting my dog before the 'exercise finished' on one exercise and all sorts of points that, uh, we didn't need to lose. And when the judge said, "Congratulations" after the run, I was a bit puzzled, but she didn't say, "You have qualified," as, once again, they always had in the past.

Anyway, it continued awkward as for the awards the judge said, "Qualifiers, return to the ring", but didn't say the armband numbers, as, once again, I'm used to them doing. And people are beckoning me, and I'm like, "We did the wrong article!" So I sort of just ghosted in, ready to leave when the judge realized my mistake. But we ended up taking 2nd, and then was more confusion as I was supposed to go take my ribbon and stand somewhere else, but never seemed to be where the judge wanted me to be. Oh, so many rules in obedience, and I think it takes about 40 years to learn them all. So our big Utility celebration was sort of a, "What? Huh? What's going on? Stand where? Are you sure? We qualified? Really?"

So, yes, we actually got our UD! Well, our P-UD, or possibly PUD. I like PUD. It has been a LONG road to get here, and I am so super proud of my Haku. It's an accomplishment that very well may never happen again with one of my dogs, though I'd LIKE to think I would have an easier time training to get to this point with another dog. Doesn't usually work like that though, Haku has had his own challenges, and any other dog will have completely different issues. It's always like starting over, I suppose.

I have had the great advantage that my dog chose the sport, and I obliged. When we went to go see Ellie for a lesson 4 years ago, I really didn't think Haku would have any interest in obedience as he's such a nut. He proved me wrong - that boy LOVES his obedience. And that is not something that is easy to train in a dog. I think just about every dog can learn to love agility, but not obedience, and definitely not showing in obedience.

I'm well aware that Haku's unique brand of endless enthusiasm is a huge advantage, especially dealing with competition stress. Obedience trials are very difficult environments, and being able to work with very little feedback for long periods of time is exceptionally challenging for some dogs. It's really the challenge of obedience, and Haku is well suited for handling that. Of course, that endless enthusiasm has it's drawbacks as well, but I realize how lucky I am to have a dog that enjoys obedience, is perfectly willing to work for no reward for long periods of time, and has such focus and attention even in difficult environments. I can't really take credit for those behaviors, as he was pretty much born that way.

Haku's Utility title is probably the highest obedience title we'll ever achieve. We will play around with attempting some UDX legs. Realistically considering how often I trial, and that we are not, uh, super consistent, I can't see him getting those 10 obedience 'double Qs' with Open and Utility. But I DO think we can get to be more consistent and solid as a team in competition. And that is our goal now, see what kind of scores we can get. 200s aren't going to happen, but I KNOW we can do better than we've done in competition so far.

The adventure continues, Haku NEEDS to have a job. I'm still hoping to do more herding with him, but it's just not something we currently have access to throughout the week - and Haku needs that outlet. He's going to be 8 this summer, and, knock on wood, if the jumping holds up we could have years more playing in obedience.

Haku's reward for his big title is he got to go watch agility, and he was very happy. While Haku is perfectly happy to leave agility behind, he still LOVES to watch. Love that dog, he's just something special.

On the agility side of things, Navarre did some great stuff, ALMOST doing courses, with some running around things. No complaints, really happy with where he is, his focus was so much better than the last trial, he's trying really hard and having a great time. He is the bestest baby dog! Got a video today, standard ... minus the tire again:

And some random pictures from the crazy world of conformation, as it was much warmer in that building. ;-)

A Day of Almosts

It didn't snow - we made it to a trial! Then Bright broke. Because, yeah, there is some sort of Trialing Curse on me. Took her out of the car for jumpers and was off in the front, nothing super awful, but it's there. So, yeah, she got one run today. One half a run, really, as I saw her holding her paw up on the table, not necessarily in a 'hurt' way, but I wasn't sure, then we bungled the next part of the course, so we left at that point. So we'll call that Bright ALMOST got to actually trial.

The good news, the rest of the almosts were of a better sort - Haku ALMOST qualified in utility! He was but a split second away, but he released on the judges 'bar' cue on directed jumping. I actually think he thought it was me, but he was pretty much looking for any reason to GO. Haku was high as a kite for the obedience trial today, which doesn't surprise me, he's been in that sort of mood recently. But it's a HAPPY high, and as the last time we showed in Albany it was the only time he showed 'sad', I'll take crazed Haku any day. You've never seen a dog so excited to go do go-outs! Or heard him. Oh, the barking on the finishes - it was ridiculous. And after THOROUGHLY killing the glove on the way back to me for the directed retrieve, when I asked for him to give it to me, instead he SURGED backwards tugging like a fiend. I had to wrestle it away from him.

Still, for all of that, there was so much good. His heeling was happy and not crashing into me. He did go-outs, his second better than the first! He took the right jumps, he pivoted fairly correctly, and he did his scent articles like he actually knew what he was doing. He might have been high, but he was really trying. I am feeling optimistic we'll get that UD someday. Tomorrow would be nice!

And then Navarre, loud baby dog, he had two great runs today in Excellent. The standard course was actually really interesting, I loved the opening and really enjoyed having two dogs so I could try it different ways. I love it when a course makes me wonder what the right handling choice is! And then an interesting puzzle with the teeter as well, I like puzzles. And Navarre did all the hard parts, including nailing his weaves while I moved laterally to get down the dogwalk! And then at the end I took for granted he would take the tire - ran around it. Whoops! Work every obstacle, Navarre is the poster child for that one. Much more focused and with me today compared to his last trial - super happy with the baby dog.

Jumpers was more straight forward, but another great effort from Navarre, more fabulous weaves, was doing great, then I sent and left to get ahead at the end, same thing, didn't support the jump between him and me, ran past it. Doh! So close! Work every obstacle. I will learn, eventually. HAPPY puppy today, he thought this was great fun. Getting him to shut the hell up though, jeesh. Note to self: Bring More Treats.

Long, fun day at the trial, enjoyed the obedience, enjoyed the agility - good times. Kept forgetting it was Friday. One more day tomorrow, we'll see how the boys do. Bright will be taking it easy and get to come sit and cuddle and get treats.

No video today, kept forgetting to bring in my camera. Just imagine Navarre being awesome and Haku being highly entertaining.

Last League

Last night of league tonight, and, thankfully, the rain took a break so at least the drive wasn't stressful for once. Wettest February in recorded history! Oregon is not fucking around this winter, that's for sure.

Fun course, my theoretical plan I had from looking at the coursemap did not pan out to reality, and 4-6 went comically bad most every way I handled it (my original plan of blind crossing the exit of the aframe to a threadle just didn't happen). Navarre finally got it though! Bright, nope, into that tunnel no matter what I tried. Then the issues were all mine, not supporting things, not calling, etc. Doggies did great, and we did get more in tune as the weeks went on through league. Not as in tune as I'd like, but hey. And, funny enough, Navarre's team came in 2nd! And Bright's in 3rd. Which seems fair, he had way better scores than she did. Very much enjoyed international league, I hope Daisy does it again next year, super fun.

Look at these cute prizes with fabulous cookies in them! And the cookies were SO GOOD!

So, quick, what height was Navarre jumping in the video above? Perhaps you didn't notice? We had another go at 24 today, and after a week off to think about it, Navarre came back much more comfortable with the big jumps. For classes I had a modified version of the Jumpers course from USDAA nationals set up this week, and decided to run it at 24 as it had the tire, broad jump and triple, all of which Navarre hadn't seen at 24 inches before. No big issues, he had a couple dropped bars, but I was surprised how different he felt running him at that height compared to last week. So maybe USDAA is not off the table after all. Good boy, Navarre!

Navarre continues to be really variable with his weave performance, though he's not having issues weaving (at the moment), the going back and forth between single and double striding is puzzling. Last week, he single strided on turf, double strided on the dirt. This week he single strided on the dirt, double strided on the turf. It's a mystery. I can only assume he'll figure it out. Or not, I suppose there is no rule saying he has to stick to one style, though I can only imagine that would be easier.

So, yeah, trial this weekend, just standard and jumpers, we'll see how they do. Turns out Haku has early morning obedience each day, which means no conflicts with agility. I like getting right to it in the morning anyway. We've been doing our homework, he's now CRAZY freaking screaming high doing his articles at home. I think he vocalizes like that in a trial they'd probably kick us out of the building. But he did seem to need to get the behavior 'jump started' a couple times before he went back to his normal excellent article self. Took Haku to the park and worked crazy go-outs - he was fabulous. Practiced signals and rewarded stands out of motion. Heeling always looks better in practice, he doesn't do any of the forging, crowding he does in class and trials. Well, okay, not as much. ;-)

Also been working a little bit of obedience with Navarre - the boy can't heel. So we've mostly been working on going backwards, he does great at straight with speed, but inside curves, for all we worked on them, he doesn't seem to remember. He still can be very serious, and forget attempting to heel at the park. So, one step at a time. And he, kind of, remembered articles! Love that boy, he's so fricken cute.

Less obnoxious this week ... but still often off in his own little manly world

Teenage Angst

It may just be a coincidence, but Navarre's sudden hormonal surge seems to have correlated with Dove going into heat a couple weeks ago. I didn't think about it, but she was here right before she went into heat (like the next day or two, I believe), and then he was at Poodletopia while she was in heat, though they were not together, obviously. And then Heidi was here last night, and Navarre was all harassing Bright and being pervy and weird. And this is all new behavior for him, he's had zero intact boy issues up until a couple weeks ago.

Maybe it's not related, but the timeline does fit. It doesn't really matter why, because if he's going to be like this now, he's so getting neutered. It's like living with a moody teenage boy, and he obviously doesn't know what to do with himself. I'm not saying I'm going to do it right away, but if he's still being all obnoxiously girl crazy when he turns 2 in April, he'll be getting the snip.

I'll admit I have unfair expectations, as Haku was SO GOOD when he was intact. Other than the pee licking and absurd posturing at any other intact boy within 2 miles of him, Haku was such a good boy when he had balls. Have I mentioned that Haku is perfect lately? Because he is.

The nice part is that because Navarre has shown zero signs of intact boy behavior to this point, he's already grown and at the age where I won't feel bad about neutering affecting his growth. So, yeah, perfect timing if he does want to suddenly turn all angsty boy dog. Go ahead, Navarre, test me.

In other Navarre related news, I was so annoyed with him a couple weeks ago that I took him into the last 15 minutes of Haku's obedience class. He's always thought obedience was pretty stupid, so we were just going to work on doing boring obedience things. Naturally, he thought that was SUPER FUN. So that was unexpected. So I brought him in this week again for a little bit, and it was actually really fun to go back to those exercises we haven't worked since he was a puppy. He did really well, except the group stays. He didn't move from his spot, he didn't care about the other dogs, but, good god, the dog cannot just stay in one position. He's up, he's down, he's upside down - obviously needs some work in that regard.

But combined with his recent obnoxiousness, it made me want to take a break from agility and go play with obedience for a while. We've really been focusing on agility, and for most of his life, as that is what he really enjoyed. But now that it seems he can enjoy other things, and I'm really happy with where he is in agility, I'd like to mix it up for a while. The problem is that there are events I want to go to! But I'm definitely okay with putting AKC trials on the backburner for a while. I think after April we may switch gears for a few months, I love training new things and we'll get lots of that in obedience as he really wasn't into it as puppy so we put it aside until he was older. I think he's ready! Bright will not be doing obedience, however, that would be her idea of torture.

I do plan to actually practice some obedience, as Haku acted like he had never seen articles in his life this week. Weirdest thing, he just went out and brought me every leather article, never sniffed, no recognition whatsoever. And that's just Haku, his learning process, well, it's unique. And never finished, apparently. But we DO have a trial next weekend, so we will actually practice. Maybe go to the park or something.

Rico has lost his title of 'Easiest Puppy Ever', it only took a week, apparently. He's 15 weeks and suddenly acting like a normal puppy. Not a bad one, just normal. Though my dogs were not impressed, especially the new Moody Teenage Navarre. There was much ugly face all around, not that Rico was discouraged. He still thinks he's beloved, which did not help the ugly faces. They all played with him at some point though, Rico was just here for a day.

We did go hiking, and it was a lovely day, though still water everywhere. Our Extreme Winter of Extremeness continues. Dogs had a good time, though Navarre mostly just wandered sullenly way at a distance, like an angsty teenager being forced to hike with his family. Bright and Haku played 'Stick', of course, and Rico barged his way into that, blatantly stealing the stick from Haku and hoarding it. But not from Bright, because she was not putting up with that shit. Everyone needs a good bitch, and Bright does her job well.

Rico did actually end up bringing me his stick, more often than not, when I invited him to do so. It was hard, as he likes to be the center of attention when he has the stick, so these retrieves counted double. He got lots of treats! And such a big change from one week to another, he can trot now! He was like a sack of potatoes on legs last week, this week he's really starting to get more coordinated. Crazy to think this three month old puppy now weighs as much as Bright! Beefcake!

Navarre's Week at 24

So it didn't take Navarre long at all to adjust to 22 inches, we had practiced at that height for a couple weeks, I didn't really feel any difference after the first couple days. But from 22 to 24, that was a whole other story. Probably because 22 is still about withers height for him, 24 feels infinitely higher than 22, and he has really been thrown for a loop attempting to figure it out. We did a quick introduction to 24 last week and it really was surprising how much more effort he has to put into jumping. In fact, the first day we looked at it he kept running UNDER the jumps. Those two inches make a big difference!

This week we worked on a little Justine homework at 24. I figured by the end of the week he would feel more comfortable, but he feels about the same despite the experience. We also tried 24 at league tonight, and while he's not terrible at 24, it's just not as much fun, for either of us. I know one week is not a lot of time, but I will say I much prefer 20 or 22, 24 is just kind of boring. He doesn't look bad at 24, but he looks better at 20. As most dogs do look better jumping at or below their withers, really.

So USDAA? I don't know, we certainly could do 24 - but agility shouldn't be about jump height, and agility is just more fun at lower heights. And I might table it for a while, let him grow up more, and then look at it again in the future. For now, I like 20, Navarre likes 20, no need to complicate things.

Navarre at 24:

I do believe that the future of agility will involve reasonable jump heights. I also can see them lowering the height of the dogwalk at some point, removing the table and increasing the diameter of tunnels. I'd like to see them add a 10 foot straight tunnel to replace the chute, and I'd personally like to get rid of the double and the triple. I'm happy to exchange them for the wall and the broad jump, which I think are easier for dogs to judge spatially. I'd like to see less weavepoles in competition, I don't know why they have to be in EVERY class. American agility and international agility will continue to split, so it will be interesting to see what it all looks like in the future.

Bright has been doing GREAT in agility, while I have been mostly focusing on working with Navarre with the Justine homework, Bright is my ringer dog, bring her out and she can do everything perfectly the first time. And we've been working on me trusting her more and running more as a team. Then we had league tonight, a course I felt very confident with. And Bright was off course at #2, and pretty much every obstacle after that. Flew off the teeter, popped the poles, had apparently never heard of a backside or threadle in her life, it was just a comedy of errors that in no way resembled the Bright I had been working with lately! So, yeah, hard not to get frustrated with that sort of thing! The second time I ran her I just took nothing for granted and shouted at her the whole way through - and we STILL got an off course. But I'll take responsibility for that one as I was so uncertain about her actually taking a backside I think I pushed in too much. So, yeah, Bright is still nutty, but we will continue to work on it!

Navarre had a better excuse, being a baby - but HE got the weaves the first time, even with them all pushed awkwardly in a weird position. There was lots of good with the baby, league has been a great experience for us. One more week, then no more driving at night in the pouring rain, which I WON'T miss. It's been worth it though, even if it drives me nuts when we STILL can't do it right with two chances!

Our second runs, with the some screwing around edited out with Bright: