Happy Shark Week! ðŸ¦ˆ

Rain wishes you all a happy Shark Week! She has been sporting the shark bandana we got a few months ago from Saucy Paws. Whether you celebrate with an annual viewing of Sharknado, take the week from work to go search for Megalodon, or just watch Shark Week with a porn star by your side, we salute you.

Yes, we’re being silly. While Rain loves the ocean and her fellow creatures, but even she thinks the “science” of Shark Week is dubious at best. Aussies are smart!

We wanted to let everyone know that between Independence Day, a couple of heat waves, and some other external circumstances, our classes have mostly been cancelled so far this month! There’s one that we’re behind in writing an update for, so hopefully that will happen soon.

Before you know it, Rain will be back to jumping the—well, never mind. 🦈

If you’d like to show your support for sharks and other ocean life by working for clean oceans, check out the Surfrider Foundation—they’re pretty great!

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Sundry Tales

Rain has little adventures every day. Here are a few recent ones!

CANADA DAY

Our readers may not realize it, but Canada Day is just a few days before Independence Day. July 4th is diem non grata at our house, largely due to the pupper panic brought on by the onslaught of fireworks in the days surrounding. Last Canada Day I realized Rain should have a special bandana, so I found one and pounced when it went on sale in mid-June. Two weeks would be plenty of time for the item to arrive for Canada Day!

When about ten days had passed, I remembered that Canada Post is notorious for its slow mail service and I started hoping the bandana would come by Canada Day.

Canada Day, July 1st, was a Sunday, and Rain did not get her bandana in time.

However, Canada Day (observed) was Monday, July 2nd and just before I was set to leave work I spotted a postal worker leaving our office. I rushed to the front desk and asked if I could sift through the tote of mail that had just been left. Lo and behold, the bandana had arrived! It was a Canada Day miracle!

 

POST-BATH BUZZIES

Rain generally gets a bath once a month, and I try to do it on the same Saturday each month so I don’t forget. In June, Rain had a vet appointment on the designated morning. Then subsequent Saturdays didn’t work out because of other commitments. On the final Saturday of June I decided to just skip it. We got back to our normal routine the following Saturday, and not a moment too soon—Rain was dusty and grimy and past ready.

Once she was clean, I let her out in the backyard and she commenced her routine. This usually involves running around the backyard at high speed, periodically pausing to shake off again and again. Since it’s summer she also frequently stopped to rub her fur along the dry grass, covering herself with fresh dirt and grass seeds. Once back inside, she leapt up on soft furniture to writhe around and do the same. Once she was feeling better (and on this warm day, about 70% dry already despite her thick fur) she moved on to the next step of her post-bath buzzies: grabbing toys and demanding I play with her.

 

A LONG WALK

Steven, Rain, and I went exploring one recent evening. The plan was to head to the Cazadero Trail, have a picnic dinner at the trailhead, then walk the trail before sunset—roughly six miles round trip.

Rain gets pretty excited when she is in a car that arrives at a destination. Maybe because she doesn’t like riding in the car, maybe because she is excited to go someplace new and sniff around. But when she gets to a place she is ready to GO. Which doesn’t work as well when the plan is to picnic first. Especially if there’s no picnic table, meaning you’re eating at dog level.

To be fair, Rain didn’t make that many attempts to steal food. She was mostly being a bossy Aussie and was ready to explore shortly after eating her dinner. She was being a pain but her behavior encouraged us to avoid lollygagging—a fine thing since we were hoping to be completely done before dark.

Rain enjoyed the walk, although it was the longest walk she has done recently.

When we were nearly to the turnaround point I thought she was having problems with her paws, but after clearing something off her foot she was fine. It seems that the gravel was temporarily getting stuck in her feet and bugging her from time to time. As soon as she drank some water at the turnaround point she went right back back to barking at me: HURRY IT UP! LET’S GET MOVING! 

Heading back, she quieted down again and was largely happy through the end of our walk. Just before leaving to head home, a person with a border collie arrived and headed out on the trail at quite a clip. I noticed their vehicle had a magnet/sticker that said “dog park or bust!” It was pretty adorable so I took a photo, and sadly in the days since I haven’t been able to find any internet vendors that have it in stock.

Rain was quieter the rest of the evening, but I still wouldn’t say she was worn out. Perhaps we should do more of these weekend walks…

Make Hay While the Sun Shines: Weekly Agility Report

This agility report is a week late. We didn’t have any classes last week due to fireworks issues/possibility that people might be traveling.

When we arrived at the park before agility this week, we found that the tall grasses were being mowed. It didn’t look like just any mower though—the dried grasses were lying in rows in the field. I recalled it was nearly this time last year when the field got mowed and baled, potentially to raise funds for park development. So it’s quite possible that before our next class we’ll be seeing the field dotted with bales once again.

Rain spent some time sniffing the freshly cut grass (which smelled great to me too—sweet and dry) and even poked her nose down a couple of critter holes when we weren’t playing ball.

We arrived when the mower was still mowing, so we got to watch. Rain got to bark at the loud tractor when it reached the end of a row near us. She’s not a big fan of noisy engines.

Once we were in class Molly had us work on a course that ringed the agility arena. (It’s nice when that happens—it’s not nearly as tough for me to remember what comes next when I’m trying to keep tabs on Rain and keep up with her!) Our course, split into two chunks, included some broad jump and tire, which we hadn’t done in some time. There were also a couple of tricky lines that Molly had set up for us to get a little practice on rear crosses and threadles.

Here are Linda and Aria at the start line for the first segment.

And Flute was back in class, amazing us all with her speed and her astonishingly agile puppy body. (Rain would have been like that if she was doing agility at that age!)

When Rain and I had our go at the second segment, Molly made mention of practicing our weave poles at home. In the moment I was a little irritated, but after class I got proactive. A day or so later I mowed the backyard and put the weaves out in order to start practicing. WE WILL GET THIS!!!!

Rain probably would have enjoyed the kiddy pool after class was over, but the prior days hadn’t been warm enough to warrant it. We enjoyed the shady trees and just a little more ball playing before heading home to enjoy the summer evening.

A Sunday Adventure to June Lake

It had been far too long since Rain got a proper wilderness adventure, but last weekend she got to go on a short hike to June Lake, which is on the southern slopes of Mount St. Helens. Yep—that Mount St. Helens.

Our readers who aren’t from the Pacific northwest may wonder why June Lake looks so green and lush. When Mount St. Helens had its blowout in 1980, the eruption mostly impacted the north side of the mountaintop. There are certainly signs on this hike that you’re on a volcano—the forest floor is littered with lightweight pumice stones, for one—but the southern part of the mountain didn’t get obliterated like the northern slopes did. The other side of the mountain is slowly recovering, but it’s still quite a sight to see in person if you ever get a chance.

Steven joined us too, and we were a trio of mammals who clearly hadn’t been on a hike in a while. Rain naturally headed up our trekking party, always raring to push ahead no matter which one of us was attempting to keep her still.

Once we made it to June Lake and had relaxed on the shore for a bit, we pressed on a little way up a steep climb in search of the spring that feeds the lake’s waterfall. We never did find it, but on our return to the lake Rain spotted a friend: a small red Aussie, swimming around and fetching sticks in the water.

Rain enjoyed the water in her own way, not venturing out as far as her new friend. She still got plenty wet though, shaking off right next to one of us so we got wet as well.

There were interesting bugs and frogs in the water, with some of the frogs resting on tangles of suspended moss.

Our hike wasn’t terribly long compared to others we’ve done but journeying to the start took a while so it was a full day of adventuring. When we got home, Rain was happy to relax and settle in for the evening.

Rain has come a long way since our first hike in September 2015, when it seems like she was barking the entire way and didn’t know what to make of all the strange people and other dogs. During this outing she clearly started out pretty excited, but it wasn’t too long before her nose started sniffing and she wasn’t barking at people just after they had passed anymore.

Rain still found the energy to try and pull me down some steep downhills with trip hazards though. Just in case I thought she had suddenly become the perfect dog. She’s always got to keep me on my toes!

Rain Plays the Triangle Game in Nosework Class

Nosework this week was plenty challenging for Rain, despite each dog only getting two runs. Her step was full of pep, especially when it was time to go visit the horses. A couple of people had just taken three horses out of the big corral, so there were more horses standing near the place where we usually visit.

Kristina started class with a game of her own invention called “the Triangle Game.” She used a series of agility dots to create four triangles around the room. The game was this: we’d come into the room and our dog would search for four hides off leash. We had to stay put inside the triangle by the door, and we could only move triangles once our dogs found a hide.

There was one hide that was particularly tricky for all four dogs this evening. It was in a far corner, up underneath a folding table. There were several times when a dog was, I thought, going straight for the hide, but then they’d completely miss it, including Rain. There were a few times Rain trotted around my vicinity and I could just tell she was feeling challenged. She never got too frustrated though, she just kept working. What a good dog!

While observing, I noticed a couple of things. First, given what I had learned the prior week about dogs using odor bouncing off nearby objects to figure out precisely where something is, I realized that our human presence could be used for such so putting us further away from the dog might make finding a hide that much more challenging. Second, I realized that Kristina had intentionally placed the triangles in areas where two odors may be converging. This meant wherever the person was, the dog was potentially confused about where to go.

The Triangle Game took a while, but once we were done we headed outside. Tonight’s dogs were the two Rhodesian ridgebacks and Hector, a fun beagle/shepherd mix who was barking a lot inside his car. He barked so much we could hear it inside and I kept wondering if it was Rain even though everyone told me it was not.

Hector’s person puts a water bowl outside their car, and Rain has helped herself to his water for two weeks in a row. This evening I remembered to bring our own water and set it up outside our car in the same manner. Rain was very appreciative—apparently sniffing that much and eating hot dogs makes a pupper thirsty!

Our exterior hides weren’t as challenging as the triangle game but they could have been depending on whether the wind picked up or changed direction. The biggest challenge for Rain was a groundskeeper who was working next to where she was searching. There are many reactive dogs that do nosework, and Kristina said this fellow has been barked at by many dog in the past. Rain was distracted for a bit but soon got back to focusing on her search.

After that search was done, we regrouped inside the building without dogs to chat, which then lead to the usual transition into topics I didn’t need to be around for. It was late and the sun had set, so Rain and I moseyed along home as soon as I could make it happen.

A Saturday Adventure to Mary S. Young Park

Over the weekend I needed to make a short trip to West Linn. “We’re just a block away from Mary S. Young Park!” the person told me when describing how to get to her house. Since I had no other business in that area I figured I’d bring Rain to the park to make a nice Saturday outing of it.

Rain and I had been there once in the past—it was one of the first places I took her back in 2015. In fact, one of the header images for this website was taken during that first visit. I attempted to take another photo recreating the original as closely as I could, roughly three years later.

Original (2015)

Redux (2018)

Mary S. Young Park has many amenities, including a sizable dog off-leash area and wooded trails that lead down to the Willamette River. During this visit, we stuck completely to the dog off-leash area—a giant field surrounded by trees, next to a parking area, with a few tables and shelters, and with plumbed water at one end.

Visitors here have brought buckets, bowls, toys, and plenty of other things to make the water spigot a great place. The water area has a drain so it doesn’t get as muddy as the plumbed water at the dog area of our local North Clackamas Park. Rain had already enjoyed the kiddy pool at agility the prior day, but she jumped right into the pool here and had another pool pawty.

Perhaps it’s because we don’t visit regularly, but this dog park seems extra nice to me. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that it’s in West Linn (one of the swankier parts of the Portland area), the size of the field, how well it’s maintained, or just the general courtesy that the dog owners have that is a little more strained in other parks we’ve been to, but it’s just a really nice place to visit.

Pool Pawty! Weekly Agility Report

It was just a few days after our tick scare when agility class came around again this week. I had spent some time pondering how Rain picked up what evidence suggested was a tick (before it went flying who-knows-where). I was thinking specifically of the places we might encounter tall dry grasses. When we arrived at the park before agility, it suddenly became easy to envision.

After a few minutes of fetch, the warm afternoon started getting to her and Rain peeled off for the last spot where she splashed around in the mud. It wasn’t there, so she went to the next spot—it wasn’t there either. All the water seems to now be dry in the low areas of the park. Once I caught up with Rain I got her on leash and we headed out a little early. She was clearly thirsty.

We ended up stopping at a gas station in Beavercreek, the nearest town. I spotted a spigot outside and used a plastic container I had as a bowl, cursing myself that yet again I had been caught without water for the pupper.

Once we were at the arena Rain got a more proper cooling off.

Molly opened class this week with an exercise she had learned during the workshop that had preempted our class the prior week. It was an exercise to reinforce a dog taking the “non-obvious” side of a tunnel.

Rain had no problems with this exercise, but many dogs are apparently tripped up by it. What this means, I suppose, is that Rain is very good at observing my cues. That said, I do believe there was one time during the exercise I may have miscued and Rain ended up on top of the tunnel. That seems to be her default when she’s not sure what to do.

Rain’s jumping on top of tunnels is certainly a crowd-pleaser—people always laugh when they see her do something they’re not expecting. It’s less fun for me though, since I’m asking her to do something else, and if she’s confused it may be less fun for her as well.

Once everyone made it through the tunnel exercise, we started working our way through a lengthy course, in segments. Our first segment ended in channel weave poles, and Rain was up first. And she did NOT want to sit at the start line I was giving her, due to the sandy floor being damp and smelly. The first time she found a tiny dry patch to sit on, but she more or less refused on subsequent runs, which lead to some interesting lines—she nailed the opening two jumps the first time but then flubbed them simply because she was lined up in a strange way. Rain otherwise did really well, and by the end of our turn she was even taking her channel weaves successfully despite an odd approach.

We didn’t have time to do any more than the first segment of the course before our session was over. After class Rain had just a little more pool time and soon we headed home for the evening.

Cooling off before agility. #poolpawty #australianshepherd

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