Still here

Just because I don’t know what to say doesn’t mean you can’t look at some pictures of my dogs.

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First they looked like this

Then, a few days later, they looked like this:

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I got out of the habit

In late November I took the dogs out west in the car. We visited Bonney’s breeder, and lots of my friends and family. I stayed away rather longer than I intended, and somehow blog posts did not happen along the way.

It was a great trip and I will work on getting some posts based on it, but, here’s what happened today.

Bonney had a lot of fun playing alligator in a muddy ditch today.

Chico stayed considerably cleaner, dignified guy that he is. Going on 14. Still jumps up in the car by himself, still runs agility with gusto.

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Watch “I just ran as fast as I could” on YouTube

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The funny dead tree

… that I posted this summer, all covered with mushrooms – it succumbed to the strong winds last Friday.

20171112_113013.jpg

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We went to herding camp …

and all I have in the way of pictures is this one of Chico working on his sensitivity to larger, unfamiliar dogs.He’s looking a little nervous because I walked away to take the picture, but he’s still where I asked him to be. He’s not barking at the GSD through the fence. This is huge for my guy.

And Miss B – she learned that calm, focused attention was what allowed her to get closer to the sheep. When we got there, if we were within 150 feet of sheep, she was at the end of the line and I may as well not have existed.

Two weeks later, she could follow me through an empty pasture when there were sheep in a neighboring field; she could walk slowly towards three sheep from fifty feet away and stop when asked to, no tugs on a leash (yes, a drag line on the ground, but I wasn’t holding it, it was serving as an emergency brake) – up to a distance of thirty feet from the sheep. And she happily left the arena of sheep with me when told “That’ll do.”

I got to help worm sheep. I got to help move sheep. I learned how to sing to sheep. And I got to feed granola bars to Xander, the camel that defends the sheep from predators. Sadly, the image of Xander is only stored in my google photos, which seems very unwilling to share the image. Please click on the link below:

https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipPFzSIRDIuzSSjBuzKuCdqV7J1v8LBGzXbf83c1

 

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That smells good

No posts recently. No apologies. No explanations. Lots of agility. Two weeks learning how to herd sheep. One of these days I’ll say more about all of that. But for now here’s a lovely picture of my two dogs smelling the same interesting smell:

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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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