Aslan’s summer ‘do

Aslan has sooo much coat, and since he prefers to spend most of his time outside, I decided to shave him for the summer. So I took the day off and took him to Great Dog today. I haven’t gotten used to his new look yet — nor has he or Pax. They’ve been growling at each other since he got home.

I have no worries that his coat won’t grow back. He is anything but hair-challenged. I wasn’t sure how he’d do at the groomer, but he was a champ. Stressed, but so sweet. I stayed for the initial rough cut, not sure how he’d react to it all, but he wasn’t a bit of a problem. The groomers said he’d been a super good boy. (Yay!)

I was glad to do this, if only so I could get a good visual assessment of his weight. He’s not fat — has a waistline — but he has a little excess skin there. He doesn’t have quite as much waist as I like to see. Pax is in the same boat, though I suppose he looks thinner because he has more spring of rib.. Both are probably at a good conformation weight, but I want to trim a few pounds off. I’d rather have them at a performance weight, not a conformation weight.

(I got a good look at Aslan’s conformation too. Ugh. He’s too straight in the rear and in the shoulder. Good thing I had no agility aspirations for this guy!)

Pax was absolutely heart-broken that I left him home today. Poor dog tried to climb through the fence as I drove away. I have no doubt that had he been successful, he’d have chased the car. I bought him a guilt gift — something called a Kong Wubba. He liked it muchly and forgave me for abandoning him.

Pax, though he’s a retriever, was never really taught to retrieve. He’ll go out and pick up anything thrown, but he’s not much on bringing it back. Since I haven’t done any dog sports with him, that was never a problem. If I want to play with him, I’ll just use two or three toys and rotate throwing them. He also has never been taught to wait to be released before chasing something that’s thrown. As soon as he sees the throwing motion, he bolts. This means, of course, that the dogs can’t take turns retrieving.

Well, today I thought I’d play around a little. I got his new toy and pulled out a toy I bought some time ago to use in an obedience class that had been kept up where he couldn’t play with it whenever he wanted. So I had two high-value retrieve items. I asked him to sit at heel — which he remembered beautifully — asked him to stay, wrapped my arm loosely around his chest to hold him if he broke, and then tossed a toy.

Needless to say, he tried very hard to chase that toy. I held him and asked him to sit. As soon as he sat, I released him to get the toy. I switched toys to get him to repeat the exercise — and on the very next rep, he had only a slight bobble on the throw. He tried bolting again on the third throw, and then was better on the fourth. So he’ll need practice, but he’s catching onto the idea darn quick!

I want to teach him this, because I want to be able to throw retrieves for the new puppy without having to put Pax away. I want them to be able to take turns. Teaching him to be steady on the throw is the first step. “Honoring” another dog’s retrieve is quite a ways down the road. But this was an auspicious start.

Aslan is exhausted and should sleep well tonight. I can only pray Pax does the same. He was restless last night, and he was up and down and up and down and up and down from 3AM on. I got very little sleep after that. He was being whiny and barky and needy — kept coming up and needing to lick my face. I thought maybe there was something outside, but the horses were out where I could see them from my bedroom and they were stretched out flat, snoring away. Considering the restlessness of the dogs right next to them, if there was anything to be concerned about, they’d have been up, ready to run.

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