We welcomed Rain into the Xanthis/Phillips household on 20th September. Rain comes from Kelly Gill of Kerodan Kennels in NSW and is a little bit extra special because she is Murphy's great, great, great granddaughter. Murphy being my very first border collie who was just such a wonderful dog. When Kelly told me that she was breeding from her lovely girl Dart it seemed like it was meant to be. Rain's markings are so similar to Murphy and she also shares his start button on the top of her head. She is a mixture of sweet, confident, cheeky, naughty and basically a happy go lucky little creature and we just adore her. Temperament wise she is awesome and has already played through a thunderstorm and slept through another.
I took a week off work and then worked from home for another week to help her settle in. Was well worth the effort as by the time I went back to work she was already happy to be left in her puppy pen and was sleeping through the night in a crate in our bedroom. I have no interest in launching into full scale training of any kind with her just yet. The only thing we do at the moment is loads of going for walks with all the dogs, rewarding for her name/recalls and lots of play. Right now I want to get to know her, hang out and have fun. All this "don't let them play with other dogs only you, all fun must come from you etc" feels very blah, blah, blah, whatever. I just can't bring myself to care. I am confident that I can have an amazing relationship with her without restricting what she does. I'm feeling spectacularly disillusioned with agility at the moment and what it means to me so it's not a priority for us at all. We’ll worry about agility training later when she is older and mentally ready.
I'm not even sure that there will be much agility at all for us in 2019. Competing is certainly looking unlikely given where Veto's head is at the moment and I feel like I need a break. It really hasn't been fun for a while now. I've been doing a lot of reading, watching, listening on different methods of dog training. It probably has a lot to do with how I'm feeling about agility. What I'm being drawn to is zero coercion, consent only training of any kind. I feel like for so long all I've wanted is to get back to the elite level of agility. And all I've done is fail at it over and over again. I think I've put way to much pressure on my dogs because of it with stupid expectations that shouldn't have been there. Now my dogs tell me if they want to do something and I listen when they say no. I am also well aware that my last two border collie selections have been poor decisions on my behalf and are risks I would never take again. Veto was always a risk that could have gone either way. I was well aware of that at the time and decided I was prepared to take the risk. So the blame lies squarely with me. I will certainly never take those sorts of risks again. There are never any guarantees when you get a puppy but by going to Kelly I knew that every box that could be had been ticked with regards to health, structure and temperament and I had stacked the odds in my favour as much as I could. Rain may or may not end up being an agility dog, but she has everything going for her thanks to wonderful breeding and nurturing.
Veto has struggled with the new puppy. When they are outside during the day it is all sunshine and rainbows but he doesn’t always cope when he is inside with her, especially at night. The ophthalmologist said his eyesight was fine but I'm not convinced so I'll get him to have another look when we go back for our next appointment. During the day they play like long lost best friends. He rolls over on the ground, lies on his back and she launches herself all over him. She can do all the things that he hates including staring at him and stalking him and it is just one big happy game. In many ways she is really good for him. I suspect inside he looses confidence because he can't predict what she is going to do and she is too young to read his body language well and give him the space that he needs. She ends up being in places that clearly make him uncomfortable. So we have a no Rain and Veto loose together in the house policy. During the day if they are both inside she is in her puppy pen and if she is loose he's in his crate. At night time I keep them completely separate. It's household management gone to a level I never imagined and its not fun. But I won't risk Rain and I don't want to see Veto feeling like that. So you do what you do. But there is no denying that it sucks.
Rain and Cassie are getting on really well and have a nice little friendship going. Rain can get a little rough during play so we have to keep an eye on things, but she is also fairly respectful if Cassie lets her know that it's too much. They are a really sweet little pair. Sonic isn't interested in any part of it so just makes himself scarce and Fizz is very much the same although she occasionally wags her tail if the puppy heads her way. So overall she has fitted in exceptionally well and I couldn't be happier with her.