For the last month I kept telling myself I'd write when I had time to take pictures to post, too. That didn't happen and doesn't show any sign of happening. Autumn flew by and now it's winter. So I'm writing. No pics. Deal with it.
Banner celebrated his half birthday about a week ago. He's six months old now, about 19.5 inches at the withers and I have no clue what he weighs but it can't be much because he spends a lot of time flying through the air like a bird. He's charming, sweet, funny, furry and very, very bouncy.
He's got a bouncy recall, bouncy heads-up heeling (providing nothing else is going on) and is learning to take and hold a dumbbell (bouncing optional at this point but I suspect he'll find a way to incorporate it before we're done). Phoenix's dumbbell is a pretty good fit for him - which is a little scary, since it was Jamie's dumbbell first. He doesn't mind having his toenails trimmed. He thinks baths are a Very Bad Idea. He likes sticks, cats, riding in the Gator, chewing on everything, chase games and pretty much everyone he has ever met.
A friend asked me how he compares to Phoenix.
Wow. How do you compare razor wire and marshmallow fluff? Phoenix is all sharp lines and angles and lean, hard muscle. Banner is softness and curves and fluff. They are opposite ends of the spectrum both physically and mentally. I am so blessed to have two such wonderful dogs!
Um . . . comparison . . . yeah . . . I bleed a lot less when I train Banner. Honestly, that might be the biggest difference. My hands don't look like someone stuck them into a chipper-grinder, which is generally how they looked for the first year with Phoenix. I don't have as many holes in my clothes and I don't have mysterious bruises on odd parts of my body.
They do share a few characteristics: that bright, pushy, busy herding dog world view, always interested in whatever I'm doing and quick with the "WTF?" look when I ask for something that they find completely unreasonable.
I'm having a wonderful time training Banner's foundation exercises. I'm not rushing anything. I'm not pushing anything. There are no deadlines. He doesn't "have" to learn anything until he's good and ready.
He's still figuring out how to live in a body that changes almost daily as he keeps growing. Heel work at this point is mostly learning to trot around with his head up. We're working stays and impulse control and rear-end awareness and how to bring a ball back when I throw it. Banner loves toys and playing but he wasn't a natural retriever like my previous dogs have been.
I'm trying hard to make my criteria clear and help him understand that effort will be rewarded, even if it's not perfect. I'm getting better at knowing when to ask for more and not getting stuck at a plateau or just "settling."
In the meantime, teaching house manners remains a full-time job.
The Farmer says "Your dog has no manners." That's not entirely true. He has manners. They're just bad. Banner is convinced that if he puts his paws on the kitchen counter 100 times and gets scolded 100 times, that the 101st time will be the magic number when he's allowed to grab whatever is up there. He's nothing if not determined.
Phoenix and Banner are definitely besties now. Phoenix is beyond tolerant with his furry, bouncy little brother. Day after day he amazes me with remarkable patience. He's paying it forward, for all the craziness Jamie tolerated from him.
I hope it won't be a month before the next update!