Flyland N'Joy the Journey
Objectively, Journey is an amazing dog. He is easy to live with, funny and silly, sweet and sensitive, controlled and driven. He is everything I wanted in an agility dog and more.
As a puppy, I said that if all puppies were like him, I would have 500 puppies. This is the way it is with Journey. If you show him what you want in a way that he understands, he will do it. Starting to chew something he shouldn’t? A simple redirection and it never happened again. Toilet training? A breeze. Recalls? Perfect once we learnt that leaves and toys were superior to food.
Life, Temperament, Quirks
When he was young, he firmly believed that every person and dog was put on this earth to be his friend. This hasn’t changed much, especially with people. Whether at training, a competition, out on the street, or on a train, if there’s somewhere nearby you can bet he’ll catch their eye… fold his ears back… wiggle at them… wait for them to smile… wiggle a bit more… and eventually they’ll give in and say hello. He is incredible friendly and open for a BC, especially if you consider that much of his first 12 months was spent in lockdown.
He is more reserved with kids but I put that down to lack of socialisation. He would love them if he’d had a chance to spend time with them. ‘
With the majority of other dogs, he is also friendly and happy to meet them, his tail whirring in a blur. After being attacked by an entire male BC recently I have seen him become a bit more “stand-offish” with other entire males, especially those with intense stares, but he is more defensive (hackles up, lip curled) than offensive. Also, he is only 2 at the time of writing, so still full of hormones and really discovering he’s “a man”… so I’m hopeful he will settle down a bit with this as he gets older.
In life, he relaxes easily, though he does love routines and can be a bit more sensitive if they are disrupted (eg., going to an airbnb or heading out in the van for a week) but settles into new routines easily. He has buttons that he uses to communicate and often has strong opinions and things to say. I just need to give him a bigger vocabulary!
He is both silly, and sensitive. I believe he genuinely enjoys making people smile and laugh though he isn’t goofy about it. He takes this job as seriously as any other. And, at the same time, if I’m not coping or even if I just stub my toe, he’s there in a flash, climbing onto my lap as an emotional support dog, head pressed up under my chin. He is very in-tune to emotions and stress.
In terms of weird BC quirks, he doesn’t have many. Occasionally things being blown about by a breeze inside the house cause some concern (we say that he’s afraid of ghosts), but things being blown in the wind outside aren’t a problem. It’s more about unexplained phenomena, like things falling over by themselves, plastic bags making sounds as they unfold, something sliding off a shelf when it’s been left unattended. Honestly, I don’t blame him for being afraid of ghosts. If frightened, he will come and seek comfort for me, and I become his emotional support human.
He has always been open to new experiences. Curious and sometimes cautious, never cocky or brash, and once he knows the situation is safe, he’s happy and relaxed. Thunder, gunshots, traffic, dogs lunging or barking at him either on leash or behind a fence don’t bother him at all. He goes happily on trains, trams and busses.
He has some slight resource guarding tendencies, nothing extreme, and oftentimes warranted. A lip curl or growl if Loki goes sniffing around while he’s chewing on something (fair enough), deciding that a dog that once stole his agility ball is enemy #1 and who he now can’t stand to be around (also, fair enough), and also in more quiet ways: being sensitive about having his nails trimmed and us working with cooperative care techniques to make it comfortable for him, not enjoying having his paws dried with a towel and so on. Nothing that is a concern for me, and in fact has helped me to analyse how I interact with him and how I can best help him.
Training, Drive & Work Ethic
This is one of my favourite things about Journey.
He is and has always been a perfect balance between driven and controlled. Of course part of that was training (after having a demotivated dog, and then a dog with no self control, I wanted to work hard to strike this balance with him), but a large part of it was just him.
He works happily for food and for toys but toys are #1. Reward him with a toy and he will learn 10 times faster than by just using food.
He loves being right and doing a good job, and this means he doesn’t approach work with 150% from the beginning, but works to understand first, then get faster/stronger/more intense. He has never shut down, or quit or refused to work. If anything, he begins to over-think and tries strange options in an attempt to solve the problem. This usually tells me that I need to show him a different way.
He is an incredibly black and white thinker. The more precise I am in my expectations, cues and training, the faster he understands what I want. He is a dog who, if I can show him what I want in a way that he understands, will get it right from that point going forward. If he makes a mistake and I can show him the right way to do it, he will rarely get it wrong again.
Of course he’s not a machine and he makes mistakes and forgets things, but his way of learning has impressed many top trainers in Europe. Once, when he was about 18 months old and beginning to do more complicated sequences, Anne Lenz once said something like, sometimes he looks like he hasn’t trained at all… but then as soon as he understands, he looks like he could be running the world championships.
In all honesty, given that most of his foundation training was done with two barrels and a single jump, and he is a Covid puppy, I don’t know how he is already as skilled as he is. But it has been incredibly easy with him. Nothing has been difficult. He is a dream to train, to run, to do agility with, always this perfect balance of control and power. Now, with more confidence and experience, I’m starting to see the full potential of his speed, and boy is he going to be fast.