I realised that I haven’t updated here for a little while, which I suppose is a good thing because it means that life is chugging along without too many major dramas.
Well… it hasn’t been that long, but it feels like a long time.
I’ve been very good this weekend – I decided that both Lu and Loki would have an agility-free weekend. I actually find it much easier to take days off on weekends than on weekdays. Maybe because so much else happens on weekends – long walks, work around the place, visiting people, etc, that it’s easy to not use agility as a convenient way to work out Loki mentally and physically.
Saturday was almost a complete rest day for him, as in he did very little and basically slept all day. He’s a great little sleeper. Lumen went herding with me in the morning. I find herding really fascinating and really difficult. I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing or what I’m looking for, and how to refine the behaviours I want. I know some things (like we’re working on Lu giving the sheep more space and turning her eye out, I can see her eye turn out so I reward her by removing pressure and allowing her to work the sheep) but there’s a whole lot of mechanical stuff on my behalf that I just don’t get. Lumen does love it though. She loves it so much. In one video I have from the training, I’m asking her for a stop and a sit, and her tail is wagging so fast, I’ve never seen it wag like that before. She’s very very good, and once a sheep got brave and stared her down so she barked at it and got all brave back. It was really cool to watch. I told her she was good and then she got all silly and kept pushing the sheep up into my space so she got to come around front and turn their heads again – I let her know that that probably wasn’t ok.
So you know, my last post was on giving in on agility with Lu. In a way that’s sort of the plan. In a way. I think what I’d like would be to have a herding (and maybe one day tracking) focus with Lu, and agility on the side, and have an agility focus with Loki with herding on the side. Maybe Lu will get into Masters and do well because she won’t be blitzing the course so can pick up places where other faster dogs bomb out, but maybe not. And that’s ok – I have my agility dog, I have Loki. If Lu doesn’t want to love agility, that’s actually ok. I’ll focus on it with her for now until Loki is old enough and then y’know, if she doesn’t do every competition, or doesn’t do every run, then that’s ok too. And she can do herding.
I had a thought the other day on my two dogs – my do everything fast dog, and my take your time to think dog. And I wondered if it came down to genetic herding style. Think about your typical Aussie ranch dog – they’re working all day in the heat, trotting, working the stock, trotting along with the horses, etc. They need to conserve their energy and go steady. And I think Lu is like this – I’ve decided that she does enjoy her rewards, she actually seems to enjoy agility most of the time, she just doesn’t feel the need to go full speed. Full speed is hard, and doesn’t give you enough time to think and Lu loves thinking.
Border collies on the other hand do those massive, fast outruns. They get the sheep and then zip back and forth to bring them to the shepherd. Then, I assume, they lie down and watch the sheep, taking off very fast when needed before coming to rest again. A border collie strikes me more as a very-fast-on-and-off dog, and this is really typical of Loki – everything has to be done full speed, but as soon as he has his toy or reward he lies down with it to chew on it and play with it, ready to go again when it’s go time.
Polona thinks that you could train Lu to understand that in order to get her reward she needs to run fast, and I’ve seen a huge improvement in her speed over the last month or so as we’ve been doing really easy stuff, but is she ever going to throw 110% of herself into the job? I doubt it. And again, that’s ok – I’m actually not sad about this any more.
The last session of Loki’s dogwalk showed a great improvement after Polona suggested lowering one end of the dogwalk as he was making a big deal of the 2nd apex and it meant that he couldn’t hit. Since I made the apex less of an apex he was able to just run over it as normal and this meant heaps more hits than we had been getting. Still not perfect but better than what we had. I do think I rushed him along in the heights, in a way, but at the end of the day if he’s running full speed along the plank then that’s what we’re after – just possibly if I’d kept the height lower for longer maybe he wouldn’t have been getting weirded out by the apex… but then again, maybe he would have. So, we’ll keep going like this for a little while and see what happens. Who knows, next session could be a complete disaster.
So there you have it. Loki continues to be the best dog in the universe because he’s just amazing in so many ways, Lumen needs to practise her recall because she’s forgotten how to do it because she’s always on lead, and Mal is feeling old even though he’s only 11 which isn’t really old, old, so I’m trying to not call him old even though he acts old (but he isn’t ancient old).