Trials, Training, and More Dogs

I've not been so great at updating the blog lately!  Let's give a quick recap of things I've been working on this month.

Zumi's been working hard at learning to give me eye contact and not start the vulture before being sent on retrieves.

She also did an AKC rally trial last weekend, her first two times in advanced.  I was eager to see if she would handle the environment of AKC better than her last trial all the way back in October.  The great news is that I didn't see any of the small stress signs I saw back then!  Her run on Saturday was everything I could hope for.  She did struggle with doing the halt-call front exercise but that was not a surprise to me.  While Zumi does have a beautiful pivot to front, I've noticed that lately she's been doubting the verbal cue and just twitching instead.

On Sunday's run her focus entering the ring and even ignoring a delightfully chatty judge was excellent!  However, she seemed to think that the "fast" sign meant that we were suddenly doing agility and she should look for something to send to.  I called Zumi back as she started to take off, but as soon as she returned the lightbulb went off in her little head and she proudly went forward again to do an "out" around a sign.  Other than her creativity, I was happy with her focus and clearly confident performance.

I hope to enter another AKC rally trial next month as a stepping stone to getting her ready for AKC obedience.  Our club's trial is in October and I'm debating about entering Zumi in novice obedience then, or just continuing our rally route for a few more trials.

Vito has been working on his fronts with a retrieve item.  Something that's never been 100% and has steadily declined over the years.  I cringe as he always comes in close and straight and then right as he begins a sit he suddenly decides to shuffle back a half step.  I  have no idea why.  He never does that without an item in his mouth of course.

I'm trying an experiment with him involving a chin rest.  It would be an easier experiment if the way I teach their retrieves didn't involve an automatic drop into a held out hand as an informal delivery option...  But we are making progress.  Mainly he needs to learn how to target and then do a tucked sit vs the rock back shuffle.

And this week we got a visitor!  Nala is an 8 month old Labrador puppy!  Another service dog in training of course.  She needed an evaluation and some training as she had really been struggling with life behind bars.  Nala was in our prison program, but it was determined not to be a good fit for her.

So welcome Nala!  I'm not sure how long we will have her for, current plan is a few weeks.

Zumi is in love. She lets Nala get away with all sorts of stuff she never lets other dogs even think about.  Sadly for me, this means they have been playing in the house.  Our house is so tiny that I really prefer the dogs only wrestle or chase outside.  Especially with a crawling baby now!  This usually isn't a problem since my only player is Zumi and her play style is usually more chase than wrestle. Well with Nala she's been more open.  I'm hoping that things settle down once the novelty wears off.

Nala is proving to be a very sweet, gentle girl yet still extremely puppyish!  Between Nala, Yummy, and another lab foster we had last week, it's becoming clear while labs are such great family dogs.  The dynamic between them and Netta is very different than with the other dogs.  I'm still doing a lot of management and making sure Netta isn't grabbing them, but I swear the labs are almost begging to be poked by a child.

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Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.- Roger Caras

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