It seems like all we do is …

walk in the woods and look for fungi, but I do do a lot of that.

We went to an agility trial a few weeks ago, outside at a nice fairgrounds. It was beautiful weather on Saturday. Unfortunately, we were entered on Sunday. It rained. Oh, my did it rain. Good girl Bonney gave me five runs, all the titling classes USDAA offers. She did some funny things, like grabbing her leash at the start line and dragging it over the first two obstacles. That didn’t get us eliminated, but going to bark at the kid doing ring crew did. In her defense, he was all hunched up on his chair, sweatshirt hood over his head and face, knees tucked up inside the front. I’m pretty sure she never saw anything like that before. But she came back to me. By the time it was Chico’s turn to run at the end of the day, the field was puddles and slick grass – I scratched him because I was afraid he would be so excited to run that he might slip and hurt himself. Just not worth it.

So we keep on walking. It’s good for all of us.

I have a bell on my pack because it’s blackberry season and I don’t want to surprise any bears.

I’m amazed at how favorable this summer/early fall has been to the fungus I know as “coral mushroom” – there’s just a ton of it.

Here’s some things I’ve seen on recent walks:

Chico with s*%#-neck. So proud of himself.

The sky reflected in a beaver pond.

Giant fungi.

Bonney across the stream.

Bonney in the stream.

Crazy stump covered with shelf fungi that look like …

this.

That’s it for now.

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Summer fun and more fungi

We spent a weekend at agility camp earlier this month. It was really fun, everyone learned a lot. I was able to rent a giant (to me) fifth-wheel travel trailer in a campground near the location of camp. It cured any desire I had to get something like that and haul it around and live in it.

The dogs didn’t think it was bad, they’re just happy to be with me.

Yes, she’s got my dirty socks locked down. I guess she, probably rightly, figures I’m not going anywhere without them.

We’ve don a fair amount of woods walking, it’s so good for all of us. I’m enchanted by the fungi I see.

Look at that cute little thing, next to a pine seedling.

Acorn cap for scale.

That is such a strange green, this kinda screams “I’m not good for you.”

And I’ve seen more than a couple of these:

Chico seems happy in his role of elder statesman. He’s getting acupuncture and some herbs and I’m trying to get another pound or two off of him.  On our walks he happily trots along near me, stopping to sniff once in a while, then running to catch up with me. Bonney is all over the place, racing through the woods, going three times as far as Chico and I do. One day when she was out ahead of me, she found some Mergansers in the river. So she went to herd them. When I caught up with her, this is what I saw:

Then,
and

Then I tried to get some video:

In that spirit, I signed Bonney (and me, and by default, Chico) up for an intensive, all positive reinforcement, herding experience this fall. two straight weeks of so-called Bootcamp. It is my hope that by the end, I will be able to walk backwards without falling and Bonney will have enough self-control to pay attention to me in the presence of small stock. ’cause right now, I ain’t got that.

Julie Daniels has us doing some games to teach Bonney about self-restraint when aroused, and some others that will help her learn that she can bring me a toy and not lose it forever. I have some video of Julie surprising the heck out of Bonney. Bonney knows how to trade a ball or stick, or sock, or lightbulb, or darned near anything for a treat, but when she has her “Precious” – a big ball, she can’t believe she’ll get it back. Or something. So what Julie does in this video is get Bonney to take a treat and then instead of grabbing the ball, Julie runs away from Bonney. You can almost see Bonney think “What the heck!?” Then, on the second repetition, Bonney has the ball and drops it to take the treat. That makes Julie praise her, which makes her grab the ball and run away after she eats the treat. It’s adorable.

 

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Too many words, I’m sure

But …

I’m not sure what is going on, and this is no complaint, but in the last three days my baby dog has made some HUGE leaps forward. I have struggled mightily with Julie Daniels’ ‘musical toys’ game. This is a game where I use several different toys and switch between them. The idea is that she learns that the toy I have in my hand, that I am making active, is better than the toy she has, the one that we were playing with a second ago. Historically, Bonney just picks a favorite and stands and barking at it to get me to keep interacting with her and that toy. I have video of it taking 7 or 11 or something minutes to get her to take up a different toy.

I scaled back, back, back, to two, exactly the same, foam balls. Eventually, she would come to me with one in her mouth and drop it to chase the second one. I started asking for a hand touch before I would throw another rock into the river for her to chase the splashes.

Suddenly, when I could only find one ball the other night, she would fetch one of the foam balls back to me and trade it for a treat before I threw it again. Yesterday in agility class, waiting for our turn, she would engage with one of two exact-copy felt ‘infinity’ toys, and when I turned my back and ran to a second one, she followed me and happily tugged the one in my hand instead of playing keep away or barking at the first toy.

Today, she went in the river and swam. Not just waded, she swam, really swam. For the first time. And she chased a stick into the water and for the first time brought it back to me to throw again. OK, she retrieved it again and took it off to chew, but this is all so many advancements in such a short number of days … I’m just gobsmacked.

What’s next? Oh, but wait, there’s more. I also offered her the weaves and she did fast, independent, correct, sets of 6 several times before I could stop her. Turns out she DID want the correct entry signal and the keep going signal. Glad I brought that back into my training routine!

And if none of that made any sense to you, please enjoy the view from my back porch.

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We love walking by water

The other day, Bonney must have gone about a quarter of a mile in the water, mostly, of Mill Brook. She hops from rock to rock, wades a bit, hops again, jumps up on the bank and has the zoomies. When the water is too deep, she pulls back and finds another way forward.

(Please excuse my little noises, I’m on uneven ground and not able to see where I’m stepping)

Chico also loves wading, though he’s not as much of a rock hopper.

Bonney is so adventurous, she never fails to impress me:

I keep seeing interesting fungal growths.

This was a giant thing. Looks a bit like spray-in foam insulation.

This is called “chicken of the woods” or “sulfur shelf” and I’ve never seen it in the woods before, only in the bags of fungus collectors.

One mushroom, two rocks. It popped up right there – Nature has a fantastic sense of composition.

So, that’s what I strive to do every day (along with all the “real” things one has to do every day) – walk the woods in a place where my dogs can enjoy themselves and notice some of the details of the picture that is painted all around me.

 

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Dogger loves Chico, 2017 edition

Chico’s friend Dogger recognized his smell on my new car.

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Minnesota history and a dog named Chico 

A friend of mine sent me a section of the Minneapolis star-tribune that has a bunch of Minnesota History. My mother’s family comes from Minnesota and I was born there. 

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Chico does some Rally run-thrus

We’re not speedy, a lot of someone’s time is spent chewing Zuke’s Beef with Green Lipped Mussel treats, but my boy had fun.

And Bonney was lured through a run, just for the fun of it. No video. Sorry.

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The fungus among us

It’s been an interesting combination of wet and dry this summer, and on recent walks we’ve seen all sorts of things sprouting from the leaf litter.

Which turn into this as they rot:

And those yellow spots are Chanterelles. Lots of them.

I’m often not sure what the dogs are interested in, but there was plenty of that too.

They didn’t even notice this little salamander, but I did.

And it knew I was there, it booked it under a leaf as fast as possible.

Back to the car,

“You coming?”

to see if I caught my limit on deerflies.

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Such different personalities

Last month I was packing the car in preparation for a road trip to an agility trial. My two dogs expressed their personalities so clearly.

Chico worried:

“Where’s she going? Do the dogs get to go? Oooh dear, I hope the dogs get to go.”

Bonney calmly located herself where it was impossible to leave without her knowing and waited:

“She can’t possibly sneak out of here without my knowing. Not if I’m right here.”

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Thanks to those beavers

along Mill Brook, there is a place where the water is just the right depth to make a not-quite-swimming pool for the dogs.

You can’t get to the bridge without wading yourself, but the dogs are in heaven.

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