Spacing out dogs

I was talking to a close friend about my dogs during lunch today.  She asked how old Gel was and I told her he’d be four on July 29.  Then she asked how old Fern was:  she’ll be a year old on August 7.  Then I said to her, that is really perfect spacing between dogs as they are almost exactly three years apart in age.  She said, yes, that’s true, perfect spacing for children too.

While I don’t call my dogs my children, bringing up active, intelligent dogs has some similarity to bringing up children.  You need to be able to devote a good amount of attention to each individual so that they are able to become all they can be.  If you have two (or more) dogs who are close in age it’s hard to devote sufficient time to each dog.  Fern is like a sponge, she learns from both me and Gel.  Because I had a lot of time with Gel in a one-on-one situation, I was able to put an excellent foundation on him.  Gel is a perfect role model.

I’ve finally chosen an agility trial that I’m going to shoot for this year:  the Charlotte Dog Training Club AKC trial in October.  I can’t recall for sure, but I believe last year’s CDTC trial may have been the first agility trial I did with Gel.  The goal is to finish up Gel’s Novice AKC titles (he already has his Novice Standard title) and then focusing solely (or almost solely) on USDAA trials.  If I’m going to spend the money to enter and travel to trials, I want the opportunity to do as many runs per day as I can.  In USDAA, you can get upwards of five runs a day.  Unless an AKC trial offers FAST classes, and many do not, you can only do two runs a day.  CDTC offers FAST so if all goes well, I can finish Gel’s Novice Jumpers with Weaves and FAST titles and maybe get a leg or two towards his Open Standard title.  For me going to a trial and only getting two runs a day is boring and not cost effective.  I feel the same way about herding trials.  Until Fern is ready to run in USBCHA trials, I’m not going to bother going to them unless they are in my backyard.  I’m hoping Fern will be ready for ASCA herding trials in the spring.  It will be expensive to run two dogs in an ASCA trial, but I’ll save my pennies and go.  Once Fern is ready to run agility, I may reconsider my decision not to do AKC trials because I’ll have two dogs to run.

Of course, Fern isn’t going to be ready to run in agility trials unless I get my butt in gear and start training her.  I am hoping to schedule a private lesson with my agility instructor on Thursday.  That should be sufficient to jump start agility training.  Fern is going to be a hot little agility dog, I just need to turn her on.

As far as USBCHA trials go, I’m still very much on the fence about them.  I enjoy ASCA trials more.  It makes more sense to go to trials that I enjoy rather than doing what other people think you should do with Border Collies, which is USBCHA trialing.  Sure, in general, ASCA trials are easier than USBCHA, but ASCA trials are not a given.  Not all dogs will work sheep, ducks and cattle and many Border Collies have difficulty working in close quarters.  I know Gel did, but that’s over now.  He’ll work tight if I ask him to and of course he’s perfectly happy working in a 40 acre field.

I’ve noticed that a lot of the die-hard USBCHA trialing people say that they’d like to do arena trials like ASCA or AHBA, but they are too expensive for them to attend.  I agree, they are expensive, but if you factor the number of runs you get in a day, they usually come out to about the same price or just a little bit more than a USBCHA run.  Luckily I have a well-paying job so I can afford to trial where I want to.

I mentioned that my landlords had a well dug in order to refill the pond which they irrigate out of.  When they first started refilling, they had a large hose attached to the well pump running into the pond.  I came home late last week to find that they had removed the hose and installed plumbing to create a waterfall and brook going into the pond.  It’s far from done, but what is done is very pretty.  I love the sound of the waterfall.  Gel and Fern love lying at the mouth of the brook where it goes into the pond.  The water coming out of the well is colder than the pond.  The pond is already looking better than it did last week.