As some have noticed, I’ve been really quiet here for the last six months or so. Molly worked her last trial at Spokane this year. It has become obvious to me that in not having as much room to run around, her body conditioning has changed drastically and it is affecting her work. She is tiring more quickly. She can’t work the entire day. More importantly, she is loosing her drive and her focus on the work.
Years ago, her shoulders were pretty torn up. I wondered if that was affecting her work. If she was in pain. But anymore, i’m not so sold on that idea. I think it is a combination of issues, all of which started when we left the farm.
First – As previously stated, she is out of shape. At eight years old, she might now qualify as a bit tubby. Tubby I can fix, but let’s be real – i am not a marathon jogger. On my best days i’m a fair weather rollerblader and cyclist. Washington is not kind to fair weather sport people. In fact, i think she laughs a bit at them and then rains at random just to rub it in.
A reasonable solution here would be to suck it up and discover the joy of jogging, which i am quietly doing. I am not buying a treadmill. Mostly because there just isn’t any more room in the house. On the other hand, i’m not exactly at prime weight or strength either. So jogging it is, at least until i come up with a better and equally cheap idea.
Second – When I discovered sheep to work on a farm near the house… I may have gone a bit overboard. I started pushing drives, sheds and inside flanks really hard and was not as forgiving of her when she couldn’t figure out what i wanted. It’s not that she isn’t or wasn’t capable, but that my style of training changed pretty drastically almost over night and without much warning. Which would make me want to quit too.
Don’t read that as i was beating on her or being hostile with her. She is a soft(ish) dog in her own little ways. The problem really is more that my timing is better but not awesome and i got tougher on her. She’s been a patient teacher dog for almost eight years and at some point she was bound to just tell me to go jump off a bridge. I deserved it.
Don’t wanna get up again…
Third – I’ve not been the best or more attentive owner. Mostly because of the house, which has required more work than anticipated, but now the house and the company are all-consuming. I didn’t realize how much until a friend of a friend mentioned that he didn’t have a dog because he couldn’t give them the time they deserved. As he’d seen me with my dogs, there was a part of me that seized up a bit and thought ‘omg do *I* have enough time? crap… am i a bad owner?’. That bugged me for *months*. It still bugs me. The point is that Aussie’s are very team oriented and i’ve been a crappy teammate.
Sometimes you really just need to get a grip and make choices. Also, you can only do the best you can do. My dogs will sometimes have to deal with the fact we cannot go for a hike because i need to get up on the roof and fix shingles or make a few bags. They are displaying a few of the least annoying bored dog behaviors and we’ll deal with it like big kids – by making more frozen kongs and buying more toys. And yes, trying to manage my time better.
I did not dig in your garden to make a little den under the shed. Nope, nope, nope…
Before anyone gets all worked up about anything here… no i’m not heartbroken, or more than minimally upset. I’m also not getting a puppy, nor rehoming either of the dogs. This is a We type thing; Simon, Molly and I. We are in a different place than we were five years ago, literally and figuratively. I just need to get a new map and make a new course.
Whatev’s. We make our own jobs…
However, that leaves me in the odd place of trying to figure out what to do with this blog. Until something happens, whatever that something is, i suspect it will be a very quiet place.