I guess my New Year's resolution should actually be to start blogging regularly. I haven't written for two months. Urgh.
A lot of stuff has happened in that time and there's probably no point in summarizing everything. I went to a pretty cool seminar with Anton Grygar (Czech National Team coach) with lots of challenging exercises and I'll try to sit down and write about that (New Year's resolution).
Uma has been broken for a while and will probably remain broken for a week or two more. She cut her pad on a glass bottle some idiot left out on the big empty field where I let all the dogs run every morning. Cut is not the right word to use, she literally slashed it. I think she must have jumped down on the piece of glass, which must have been sticking in the ground at a right angle. Anyway, lots and lots of blood, absolutely everybody was covered with blood by the time we got to the car and then by the time we got to the vet the car was soaked in blood as well. It's healing up pretty nicely, but it will still be a while before she's back to running and jumping. I really, really hate this long break, because I get a feeling that every time we take a break longer than 2 weeks, it takes me as long as the break took to get back in sync with her. There were lots of things that came up during the seminar that I'd like to work on right now, but well... I have to wait.
Eden is 5 months old by now and is a sweetheart. I really, really like her. She is usually very confident and outgoing, loves people and so far I haven't noticed an ounce of aggression in her. No growling, no resource guarding, nothing. I appreciate that. She might not have Uma's intensity, though I can see some intensity developing, but she does have something that makes working with her very easy - FOCUS. I can't say I've put much effort into developing it, she must have been born with it, but when she knows we're doing something, she does not care about other dogs, other people, space shuttles launching, whatever. She also learns quickly, often it's a couple of tries and she catches on what's expected of her. I also think we've really bonded in the past two months. Last night I was trying to comfort the dogs during the midnight fireworks (nasty). The first thing Eden did when she heard the blasts was run into her crate. But then she peeped out, saw me on the bed, ran up to me, snuggled next to me and we watched the fireworks together. That was sweet. Malcolm couldn't care less about the fireworks and Uma was concerned, though not panicking.
I've been doing little bits of agility stuff with her, but probably not as much as I should have and all very, very lighthearted and playful. We've been bouncing on the little teeter and she absolutely loves it, she offers the behavior whenever she sees the teeter. She can do tunnels and go between uprights and of course I've been doing some agility stuff on the flat - like front crosses, running beside me, stays etc. I admit it's probably around a half of what I had been doing with the older kids, but I completely don't feel the pressure to hurry up with her now. Maybe I should? ;-) I've been doing bits of frisbee stuff, catching rollers and bringing them back and little bits of obedience too.
I think she's pretty well-behaved. Ok, so she probably pulls on leash, because that's something I really suck at teaching, because I don't use leashes much, but she waits at doors, sits down for petting, waits for my OKs for most stuff. She's not a horror to have around, I can take her to friends' houses, shopping etc. and I don't end up dealing only with the puppy.
She's also very pretty, or so I think.I actually have it with all my dogs - that is I enjoy just watching them move and looking at them and admiring how pretty they are. But I think she's got that little something which makes her extra pretty :-)
The fact that she doesn't have a tail makes her move very differently from the others, she's got more "typical aussie" up and down bounce. But I have to say I enjoy the tails and I don't think I'll ever go for a tailless dog again. Not that I don't love her little butt, but there's just something missing. And I don't know, I may be misinterpreting this and may not have enough data, but I think this bouncing movement of most aussies, which they lose when you leave their tails on, is something that slows them down a bit, because there's additional vertical movement in places where there should only be horizontal movement. It's just a personal observation based on watching tailed and tailless Aussies run agility.
Now here's my plan for her contacts, which I've altered a little bit from what I did with Uma and (half-heartedly) with Mal. I started off by getting her to touch a clear piece of plexi, then asking for multiple touches. That was easy. The moment I put the plexi on the end of the stairs, Eden's nose touched the plexi, but her butt came tumbling down the stairs and ended up on the floor as well. She dilligently kept her nose on the plexi, but clearly did not understand that the rest of her body also matters in this game. So so far I've blocked the option of her butt tumbling down by putting a contraption made mostly from an ironing board which keeps her butt from falling. At the same time I am working on her hind end awareness, by teaching her to back up, do a swing finish and doing so-called "perch work" - front feet on a perch, back feet moving around the perch. I'll now be increasing the number of stairs she has to run before the stops and varing my position.
Then I'll want to do this on a dogwalk board, starting by having her jump up from the side and get into contact position and then sending her to the contact position from several feet, then increasing the distance. I do not want her running contact equipment before I have excellent brakes on her. She does not have natural brakes.
Now if anyone has gotten this far, you deserve a juicy piece of non-doggy gossip, so here goes. We're expecting a baby in late June/early July. It's something that I had wanted, though I admit that pregnancy is not all it's cracked up to be. Not to mention feelings of guilt towards Uma (whose training will be wasted for at least a while) and Eden (who deserves to be getting more out of me than she will be). We're also moving to a bigger house around March and I should be defending my doctorate around late May. So quite a lot of stuff for one year... Happy New Year everyone!