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.