A Multitude of Moving Parts

This is a long one, so I guess I’ll categorize it for those who are skimmers:


I’m in the midst of Operation Juno – trying to play catch up on all the things she missed out on over the past year while I was busy getting ready with Solar for World Championships, Crufts, Americas and Caribbean, etc. etc.  And, since the sun has all of a sudden decided to play hide and seek around 6pm, tricks are back at the top of the list for evening activities.

Surprisingly, I *did* actually teach Juno a few tricks; when I sat down to teach her some of my standard tricks, like stacking bowls, putting a ring on a cone, she already KNEW them, and in fact seemed to have them down pretty well.  Seems like I forgot but not Juno.  Damn.  I’m going to have to get more creative.

Poor Solar, he can’t quite understand why all of a sudden he’s not the superstar in the house, but he’s been relegated to couch potato, since I really do feel he needed a break after all our travels over the past year.  Last night, I played with Juno in my postage stamp sized yard on three jumps, a seesaw, and a tunnel, and when I came back inside, I discovered that Solar had dismantled all of the horizontal blinds in his attempts to get to the back yard.  I’ve never had agility equipment back there til now; he probably thought he’d struck gold when he saw it going up, and I can only imagine his frustration when that punk Juno got to play and not him.

Part of Operation Juno involves me taking the time to get her exposed to some of the finer things in a border collie’s life, like….STOCK. So today, I met up with a friend of mine who has recently acquired some ducks for the purposes of practicing her own herding skills.  Oh, it did my heart GOOD to watch Juno today.  She was a superstar.  It was the first time she’d ever seen any sort of livestock (I don’t count her efforts at pushing Fly around the house), and it was in a square pen, and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in a long time.

Granted, I’m just in to herding for the “in and out” program – I’m never planning on accomplishing anything with it, but I have exposed all of the dogs to it at some point in their lives, and I do think for Juno, pushing around some livestock will be good for her confidence.  Still, there’s that bit of me that worried that she wouldn’t be interested at all.  I do enjoy watching dogs herd, though – it’s like agility plus one layer.  Think about it – in agility, you try to watch your dog closely, as you yourself are moving, and predict your dog’s next move based on your current move, and then adjust your current move to compensate for what you think your dog’s next move will be.  In herding, you watch the stock move, predict your dog’s move based on the stock’s movement, and then make your adjustments based on what you think the dog will do, based on what you’re seeing the stock do. There are a lot of moving parts, and if you want to get an idea about how motion affects the dogs, it’s the same in herding as in agility.  Motion is motion, dogs are dogs.  Of course, the predicted reaction a terrier would have to a flock of ducks is different than that of a herding dog, but still, you could make a prediction 🙂

So, Juno got to see ducks.  I’m no expert, trust me, but I was impressed.  She was interested, to be sure.  My friend had her young dog (who was showing off a bit for Juno, I think) herd the ducks in to an expen in the middle of the area, then it was Juno’s turn.  The whole time Juno was watching, I could feel her quivering through the leash as she sat by my side.  It was so exciting to feel that energy come up the leash. Just the sensation of feeling what another creature is doing through a small piece of webbing; how amazing is that. That was good for me, clearly she was interested.

But, when she got off leash, things got even better.  She’s no firecracker in agility like Solar was.  She’s a thinker, a problem solver, and she wants to make sure she gets it right.  And I’ll be darned if that didn’t show through today with those ducks.  She was GOOD at it, for her first time.  She saw there was a problem to be solved, and I could see that she was really thinking about all the angles, how to move herself, how to move those ducks, all in relation to myself and my friend (I of course am standing with my friend at this point).  When I gave up standing next to my friend and moved aside to watch, Juno got a bit confused and started to work those ducks to me instead of my friend.  It was just amazing to watch her think through all the moving parts that those ducks provided.  Thursday, she gets to see SHEEP – but I must say, I was really overjoyed at how well she did today.  She was thoughtful, resourceful, and only lost her head a couple of times, rarely giving in to enthusiastic swipes at those ducks 🙂  The very things that I sort of wish she WOULDN’T be in agility (overly thoughtful and even a bit worried?) were a strength today with those ducks, and THAT was worth it for me to see, because it re-instilled in me a sense of respect for the brain between those ears, and the idea that I really must take care to nurture it and not lose patience. Such a good girlie.

So many moving parts….I also went to take a look at a barn today in Enumclaw, about 20 minutes from my house, in the hopes that it would pan out for teaching a couple of classes each week.  The lady I met with, the owner, is a racehorse breeder who has recently gotten in to agility.  Racing with one species and then another…I’m optimistic that it will work out, the facility is gorgeous, the gal was super nice, and the surface was great. I’ve been busy accumulating equipment (which I ironically sold when I moved from OR to WA), and I’m looking forward to some good old fashioned agility on DIRT.  The kind of dirt that washes off. The smell of hay, horses…it’s gonna be COLD, and sometimes damp, but I’m looking forward to it.  At the heart of it, I’m a control freak, and so I’m looking forward to being able to teach MY way, on my own terms.

More moving parts…Clear Mind, the Goal Setting Workbook that I co-wrote with Shawna Palmer, is due out in PRINT in the next week or so, just in time for the holiday shopping season.  I’ll be curious to see what my reactions are to having a book with my name on the cover in my hands….yes the ebook has been out since February, but still….in print! I certainly never imagined that I’d be a published author, but there you have it.  Shawna and my collaboration is just one example of the many where I feel like an opportunity has just dropped in my lap.

And, David comes home tomorrow from Europe, where’s he’s been since I came home, travelling with a couple of his friends, and attending the annual board game convention in Essen, Germany.  I’ve felt a bit lost without him, and not just because of his mad cooking skillz.  My sleep habits get all wonky when he’s not around, and sometimes I think maybe I could just skip sleep altogether, usually just before I crash at 1 or 2 in the morning 🙂 This morning, realizing I had no cereal, I had quinoa in almond milk for breakfast.  I also had no eggs (and now I have FOUR DOZEN, thank you Elinda!!), so it was just quinoa in almond milk.  It wasn’t bad, and that gives you an idea of how quickly a Lord of the Flies situation develops with the dogs, me, and sleep and eating habits when David isn’t around. It’s not pretty.

I met with my new personal trainer at the gym this evening – it felt so good to sweat, to lift weights, to be in that atmosphere.  I didn’t realize how much I’d missed it.  The home gym just doesn’t give me the same thrill. I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to walk tomorrow, but I find that I’m kind of hoping that that’s the case.

So, lots of moving parts, but really, I guess that’s nothing new. And, now that I’m feeling less exhausted by the events of September and early October, and my head is above water again, I’m finding that I’m taking pleasure in all those moving parts; I’m not sure I’d have it any other way.