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Tale of two sisters

Wifi and Proxy play tug while Carmine supervises

While I would never wholeheartedly recommend getting/keeping two puppies from the same litter... I am enjoying having both of these puppies from the same litter very much. They could not be more different from each other and yet they love playing with each other and with their mother, Carmine a lot.

Proxy is the black tri girl on the left. She is a bit smaller and stockier. She has her mother's temperament in many ways. She is more independent and loves to meet people. Proxy turned on to livestock at very young age with a lot of presence and power. Proxy has her mother's speed and quickness to learn. She is a doer. She will offer behaviors very quickly sometimes. She loves shaping and problem solving if food is involved. She is pretty sure all mistakes are my fault so she does not worry about being wrong. Unlike her mother she does not bark at or bite me when she is frustrated. She can continue working for food for quite awhile. She is also different from her mother and sister in that her toy drive has taken a bit of work to develop. She is more sensitive to the environment than her mother. Her mother has mild environmental sensitivity and Proxy has moderate environmental sensitivity. It is not major by any means, due in large part to nurturing strategies I used with her when I first saw signs of it at 5 weeks old. Her food drive is much higher than her toy drive. She is more sensitive to pressure than her mother or her sister. She cannot get on a scale when it is right next to a wall for example. She does not like to go between my legs. She has trouble doing behaviors too close to walls and furniture in new places. It can take Proxy a bit of time to acclimate to new places and to get over something that startles her. It is not easy to predict what will or will not bother her. She likes swimming except with a life jacket. Proxy does not like to be touched much and definitely not when we are training or working.

Wifi is the blue merle girl on the right. She is longer and taller than her sister. She is taller than her mother now. Wifi has been a very self confident and persistent puppy from the very beginning. She was determined to get my attention to be my dog from a very young age. She is confident but she makes it known all the time that she wants to be my dog. She is not at all needy about it. Wifi has very little environmental or pressure concerns. When she is bothered by something it is easy to get her over it. Wifi has very strong toy drive. However she is a thinker and is not quick to do things. She would prefer to be shown what to do. She will persist at problem solving if it involves a ball or toy to be found. If it involves learning she would prefer if I show her what I want then she will happily do it. She gets faster when she knows she is right and her true speed when working has yet to be seen. She is not bothered by mistakes but she is careful not to make them. She may walk away when she is confused and occasionally she will bark at me if she is confused and she is working for a toy reward. But she does not shut down or worry. When using food for training she needs frequent toy breaks. She will work much longer and harder for toy rewards. She was slower to turn on to livestock and is more thoughtful and attentive when working than Proxy. She does not like swimming. She will wade but not swim. Wifi likes to be touched and likes to go between my legs.

The two of them have a lot of yard time to play together. But as soon as I join them they both run over to me and want to engage with me in their own ways. I do a lot of one on one training and playing with them. Just recently I started walking them together with the clear rule that there is no playing on leash when walking. They learned that quickly. They both want to please me but in different ways. Proxy is much more jealous when I train Wifi. Wifi has self confidence to know she will get my time even if I work other dogs. I have to work on my relationship with Proxy. She can be conflicted about the work with me much like her mother was at this age. I am not pushing it. I pushed her mother too much and I think it made our relationship building take longer. Proxy gets to make choices and I am working on making training and playing with me as fun as possible. I am working on getting to know what she likes and when. I am careful not to pet her too much in training. I am careful to make toy play fun and conflict free for her. With Wifi I am learning how to use toys more in my training because she likes that so much better than food. I get so much more drive from her when toys are used and there are many things that are easier for us to train using food but for her it is not as motivating. I am also starting work on toy being off of me very early with her so that is not a huge issue down the road for us.

These two girls keep me on my training toes. I still marvel at how different they are in so many ways and in some situations. Just another reminder of how genetics works. There are so many genes that come together in different ways to produce very different dogs. This is why you can never expect to get the "same" dog twice. A repeat breeding often produces very different puppies from the previous litter for this reason. So often people expect dogs of the same breed to be so similar. It is just like humans. We are all very different from each other and siblings in a family can be very different from each other.

I get to work on shifting my training gears when training these two so I have to work on my mental flexibility and gear shifting abilities. But it is very fun and I love it. I also love how they still get along and I hope that continues through adolescence into adulthood.

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