I haven’t had that much to say lately, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For awhile, I felt like I spent a lot of my time
saying shouting “ON BY! ON BY!” At least until Squash decided the words “on by” were just some bizarre alien gibberish that no longer held any meaning whatsoever. Then I felt like I spent a lot of my time shouting “LEAVE IT! LEAVE IT!” which so far has survived the Squash translator intact. But really, ideally, when we are all working together like a well-oiled machine nobody should be spending a lot of their time shouting much of anything.
We’ve fallen into a routine, the mush puppies and I, regularly scootering Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday with rest days or other activities in between. They’re getting leaner, stronger, hungrier… and well-oiled. Well, better-oiled, anyway. We rarely have a bad run, although we have bad stretches… although by “bad” I really just mean “sometimes the way Squash loses focus towards the end of a run is annoying” and it’s getting easier and easier to get him back into the game the more runs we get under our belts. During the bad stretches I may spend more time than I’d like shouting “SQUASH, GET BACK IN YOUR HEAD!” which either really, really works or just keeps me occupied and makes me feel important and in charge until he would have gotten back in his head anyway. I suspect it’s actually Maisy who is important and in charge and gets him back in his head, but as she can’t shout anything at all I guess I’ll never know for sure.
Anyway, the good stretches – the really good stretches – are getting longer and more frequent. It’s so rewarding and satisfying to see the dogs get better and better with practice, and one measure of how much better they are getting – mentally and physically – is the dwindling verbage. The better they are, the less I have to say. Also, to briefly toot my own horn, the quiet is also a measure of how much better I am getting, because I have a bad habit of talking too much to the dogs that I’ve been working really, really hard on. Sure it’s nice to want to be encouraging, but a steady stream of even good stuff like “good dogs, great job, you’re doing great, good, yes, good job dogs!” turns into so much “blah blah blah blah blah” white noise until they don’t pay much attention to me at all. The less I say, the more they pay attention when I DO say something – good or bad, praise or correction, gee or haw or whoa… pretty much everything but ON BY anymore, apparently.
So here’s a nice little run. I’ve trimmed it down, as the original video was several minutes long and while it makes a fine point about how quiet we’ve gotten, even I found it a little dull. Also, I had to replace my camera fairly recently and the new one picks up the sound of even my completely normal breathing like nobody’s business, so I trimmed the worst of the obscene phone call breathing out. Nobody needs to hear that shit.
Here’s a little later in the run, this has also been trimmed down to eliminate sniffling, breathing, and somnolence. I’ve been working up their distance a little bit and they are due to take a break soon, so they’re a bit tired. That’s why Squash is running with some slack in his tugline, and although I’m trying to work on braking to slow the scooter down to his speed when he gets tired to prevent the slack, I’m not real smooth at it yet.
Some geeky stuff… I think this is the new tuglines’ first appearance in the blog. Squash is running with a 55″ tug and Maisy runs with a 40″ tug, which puts her nicely right at his shoulder. I’ve been using one of the longer necklines while they get used to the new tugs, but I think I’ll switch back to the shorter one now that I’m certain Maisy can keep up with this setup. The longer one is too long and is just tangles and armpit-fodder waiting to happen. I’ve also started using the limited slip-collars, which has been generally keeping them a little more responsive to neckline pressure so they get jerked around less (thanks to Jessica of Blue Eyes and Spitfire for that great suggestion, by the way).
And lastly, I was going to save this for a blooper post, but I’m going to put it here. Juuuuust as I was getting ready to stop for a break (this is right after the second video above) a squirrel went across the trail. I’m a bit torn on whether to be a bit disappointed in myself that my first reaction was to slam on the brakes instead of giving a WHOA LEAVE IT, or proud of myself for realizing that my dogs might have been a little too overstimulated to count on responding to verbal commands. Either way, since there was no harm done (thanks to brand-spanking new brakes) I decided to just let them chase it anyway. Funny how my tired, slack-lined boy gets his second wind, huh?
Once again I don’t have a big ending, so I’m just going to leave you with a couple of nice, silent pictures. One picture-perfect line out (easy to see the new tugs here), and one goofy-face siesta. Oh god look at Maisy’s ears.