We haven't been doing a lot of training work these last few weeks because I started a new job and I still haven't got my schedule honed yet. But, that's about to change! This week we start a puppy obedience class for puppies Cinder's age in which none of the puppies are allowed to socialize nose-to-nose during the class. Even at 15 feet away, Cinder gets reactive so just the idea of other puppies in the same area simultaneously is almost incomprehensible to me right now. However, our behavioral specialist is the class teacher and she says we can and will work through it. I hope so - for Cinder and me. We both need this class to keep us motivated and accountable for making quantifiable training progress. I do all right training on my own, but Cinder needs the experience of working in company. We also need to break the monotony of our weeknights now that summer is over and the days are growing shorter. Tuesdays will be our special evenings of work away from home each week for the next nine weeks. At least one night a week I know Cinder will come home tired and quiet. It will be good for us both.
Last week may have been our last good week of swimming at either of our favorite swimming ponds for the season. One pond developed an ugly, thick, green scum covering the entire pond in two days so we don't go near that pond any more. The other pond seems fine, but our temperatures dove into the 40's by night and the 60's by day with more cloud cover than sunshine. I'm sure we'll have a few more days we can go to the pond for a little swimming time, but the regular days of swimming for fun and exercise are likely over for this year. Now I'm working to figure out how I can continue keeping Cinder exercised and fit through what may be another long, hard winter. Ho hum.
The last time we had swim time at the farm pond, we were invaded by turkeys. The turkeys were loose and for some reason, found our pond play intriguing and enticing. A couple even came up behind me and pecked my leg. Dang turkeys! About 10 of them gathered and they were ruining our playtime because they wouldn't relocate and leave us alone. Ultimately, it was Gilley who had enough and decided they needed a good herding. In the midst of playing a game of flyer, Gilley seemed to instruct Cinder to quit playing to, "watch and learn." She ran along with him, but at a little distance as he made his first large circles around the turkeys to begin closing up the flock. He rounded up the turkeys and Cinder watched, fascinated by the whole scene as Gilley maneuvered the dang turkeys toward a corner pen area. Several times Cinder thought to try helping, but her version of help wasn't helpful. I was able to call her off pretty easily, which was somewhat surprising. Gilley got them almost rounded up and Cinder darted over to one before I could either nab her or recall her. She suddenly slowed, crouched and "assumed the position" of the typical herder on duty, stalking the turkeys. I couldn't get her to recall or break her focus so I had Gilley do it by having him herd her into the back of my open Jeep! I'm fairly certain she was strongly considering personally inviting that turkey to dinner - or rather, to BE dinner. Once Gilley got Cinder in the Jeep, he resumed his duty rounding up turkeys and getting them put where they belonged. Then he ran over and jumped in the Jeep with Cinder, where they both watched the turkeys; and the new barn cat who came to taunt them too. That was Cinder's first time to be so close to any fowl; and see Gilley at work herding (not hurting) them. I'm okay with how that went since it was her first encounter.
Recently we measured Cinder and she has outgrown her Uncle Gilley by about a half inch in height and she's about 3/4 of an inch shorter than her Uncle Buzz. That means Gilley is now my shortest dog. Cinder's only nine months old, so she could grow even more over the next 11 months. I feel her current size is pretty perfect so if she's done growing, I'm fine with that. I love the density of her bones - definitely not fine and spindly, but neither is she so big boned she's awkward or masculine looking. Her chest has good space; and she's pretty proportionate for a pup. It will be interesting to see what she looks like next Spring.
Cinder's newest interests of late are her die-hard interest in chasing balls and soft Frisbees (we call them flyers). She LOVES chasing flyers in the field and would do it endlessly. She didn't have any interest in them at all before she started swimming; and her interest in the fields without the boys has been limited until the last couple weeks. Now, she's a Frisbee chaser no matter where we play. However, when she's with her uncles, she habitually races ahead to chase and catch the flyer only to hand it off to Gilley to return it to us. It's quite interesting that she seems to feel the flyers are Gilley's to return to our hands, but they're all hers to chase and catch mid-air whenever possible. However, all three dogs chase the flyer so it often becomes quite comedic to watch them all suddenly trying to avoid collisions at the last second; sometimes actually colliding or doing some odd jumps and contortionist moves to avoid each other. A few days ago, Cinder literally had too much of a power run when the flyer suddenly dove to the ground and she tried to stop to nab it; and her butt went into the air as she slid on her face for about six feet in the hayfield! It was HILARIOUS to see. She never missed a beat though. She got up and ran back fast enough to grab the flyer off the ground a split second before Gilley nabbed it - only to run half way back to us and hand it to Gilley anyway. Goofy girl. Without the boys, she's very good at the game and manages to bring the flyer back to us - or at least within a couple feet of us. Gilley always hands it to us, but Cinder hasn't got that figured out yet. Perhaps Cinder thinks I need to bend my fat self over and pick it up since that's similar to exercise!
That's pretty much all there is to tell for the last three weeks, since I've started my job. As you can guess, going to work all day and arriving home between 5:15 - 5:45 means we scurry to get the chores done before dark and that's about all we've managed. By the time I hone my schedule, it will be dark by the time I get home. Maybe we'll have to work on more tricks just to have things to do to keep us busy and something to share with everyone.
Right now, Princess Cinder awaits her "Mom & Me" indoor ball game for the evening. It's about 20-40 minutes of Cinder & Gilley playing ball while Buzz barks the whole time. Buzz gets tired from all the barking while Cinder & Gilley wish he'd quit being an obstacle in their way - but he catches a few that they miss...and he gives them to Gilley and Cinder. It's just another day in the continuing endeavors Raising Cinder.