It feels like a new term at Kings Green.
This year’s puppies are ready to start training, and they’re giving us lots of filming and photo opportunities.
Without actually planning it we have a real mix of dogs to bring on and, of course, they’re presenting us with a range of natural talents and individual problems that we’ll reflect in our online training tutorials.
The puppy with the sheep at the top of the page is a Meg/Ezra daughter, Madge. She's too young for intense training, but she's keen and determined. Ideally we'd keep a puppy away from challenging situations such as this, but if a puppy goes looking for trouble it's important that the camera goes too!
In the Dogs chapter of First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training we talk about the options available to a prospective puppy buyer - International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) registered; UK Kennel Club (KC) registered; or unregistered, and look at the “fors and againsts”. Our Class of 2018 includes all three! It’s early days, but I have to say that the unregistered and KC youngsters are putting up a very strong show.
Our unregistered puppies are Phiz and Boz; they're well connected to successful trials and working dogs, but their mother, Pippin, isn't registered.
Phiz and Boz could be registered on merit with the ISDS, of course, but that won't be necessary until they qualify for the International. Well, you never know.
We rarely buy dogs these days, but earlier this year we bought a couple of youngsters to add to the team.
Glen (from Wales) and Roy (Yorkshire born and bred) are both well bred, but with very different backgrounds. Glen was bred from trials dogs, and Roy, although he's from trial and working dogs, started his career as a family pet*.
Both dogs have made an excellent start, as well as giving our established frisbee-retrieving team some competition.
Two dogs who are too busy chasing and wrestling to have any time for frisbees are home-bred Scout, and Glenalpine Dash.
Dash is a daughter of Ezra and Nikki, a KC registered working trials champion. Dash has a lively personality; she earned the name "Dash" within hours of arriving.
Scout is a rich blend of four of our favourite dogs. She's the (tiny) daughter of Jet (from Kay and Oliver) and Odo (Meg and Ezra).
We have no idea what mix of her grandparents' strengths and foibles we're likely to see in Scout. When you breed a litter of puppies it's a voyage of discovery; there's no guarantee of what will turn up, and that's what makes breeding and training so fascinating.
Some of these dogs will almost certainly make an appearance in our long-planned revised edition of First Steps - the original is almost ten years old! What a thought...