What’s next? Tom and Hadley are becoming more and more of a team. Twice a week, they’re attending adolescent dog class, and I think they are having fun together. They’re also trying out new things and had their first mantrailing session the other day. Hadley likes using his nose, so Tom thought this might be something for the two of them. Furthermore, Tom has started playing with the thought of actually giving herding a shot. This might be very exciting for the little rascal, since he’s been trying to herd birds for a while, and both his parents are working sheep. I also know that his brother, who is still with the breeder, is showing good herding potential. So chances are Hadley will have fun with sheep as well.
As Tom got more involved, I stepped back and resumed the role that was originally supposed to be mine: Hadley’s dog-sitter while Tom is at work. Since I mostly work from home, Hadley gets to hang out with Phoebe and Fanta and me and joins us on our long afternoon walks and hikes. Due to The Adolescence sending his recall out the window, Hadley has lost his off-leash privileges with me and goes for walks on a 10-meter-leash unless we’re in a safely enclosed area. And that’s it – no more training for Chrissi.
It has been really hard to step back, because I had been quite involved in the beginning. I have seen how fast Hadley learns by shaping, how fun he is to work with (for example, he’s less body pressure sensitive than Phoebe and getting him to heel nice and close is so easy; I love it! He’d be great for precision obedience work!). I also love how gentle he is – it’s easier to channel his energy into drive rather than frantics than it is with Phoebe. Yep, I miss having a BC pup to train! Even now that he’s turning into an adolescent brat who conveniently forgets what a recall is, I’m chomping at the bit to take on the challenge and work through this difficult time in a growing dog’s life. But – no. It’s Tom’s job now, and that’s good.
Clearly defining our roles has definitely been good for our relationship, and for Tom’s and Hadley’s relationship as well. Tom’s approach to many things is different from mine, and while it’s sometimes hard to step back and trust that he and Hadley will find their own way, I think I’m slowly getting better at it. I also think that giving your partner the freedom to do things their own way is a healthy skill to have – so this is a good learning opportunity for me.
It’s interesting – different couples develop different startegies for dealing with multiple dog households without driving each other crazy. I’ve met people who fight about the right training method all the time, people who share one philosophie and train all their dogs together, people who strictly separate between “your dog” and “my dog”, people where one person is in charge and the other one follows their instructions, and people who’ve defined separate jobs related to the same dog (e.g. one person does obedience and the other person herding, or one person does anything related to training, and the other person takes the dogs running and mountainbiking and feeds them dinner). Tom and I have tried a few methods, and for now, the “your dogs” vs. “my dogs” approach seems to be working best for us. I’m responsible for Phoebe and Fanta, and Tom is responsible for Hadley. We don’t get into each others’ way (well, it’s mostly me learning how not to get into Tom’s way), but, of course, still stick together and help each other out when needed.
However, from seeing Hadley grow up and getting to do lots of the early socialization work, I now know for sure that I love BCs as a breed, and that I want another puppy of my own to train. I want a competition obedience dog, a performance puppy. And I want a herding breed. Not necessarily a BC, but definitely a herding breed. Not right now, no. But next fall, when Tom and I are getting a bigger place, there should be space for a new pup. So … 😉