Saturday, July 31, 2010

Jill Meets Patrick

I had the rare opportunity to watch 6 pups get evaluated on sheep by Patrick Shannah*n. All between the ages of 5 months to 9 months.....it was fascinating to see what each brought to the sheep at the different levels of maturity, keenness, readiness, and breeding. Two of these pups were from my Nell/Jake litter....including my Gyp.....
and Adele's Jill......
Having worked them both this week at home....I loved having input on what I felt I was seeing, feedback sorting if I was reading each dog correctly, and making a small game plan to help each of the girls develop good method with the sheep as we move forward into starting the process of training them.
The sheep at home were a little lighter.........and yet I saw varying degrees of the same attributes.
The whole process of starting these litter-mates fascinates me, as I spend time thinking, planning, and working. I love the fact that, though they share parents....they bring such different styles, talents, and challenges as they being their journey to becoming working sheepdogs.
The next day, after the puppy time, I worked Nell and Bella and discussed Sal. WOW are these dogs all so very different.....and yet I long to have that special relationship with each of them! My goal: appreciate what each brings to the work...... and adjust me accordingly!

I am so thankful for the sage guiding words of my mentors......cliches like "it is what it is" makes me humble and less driven to compare good vs not good. Remembering to not make such a big deal about brilliant work or not so brilliant work! Instead I am loving looking at each dog that comes through my hands and embracing the journey that they are allowing me to take with them. I am realizing the each dog is an individual......needing their very own plan.....made special for what they are presenting each time they come to the stock. May I be the trainer and handler that is open to what each dog is "saying" and strive for understanding and relationship! What an amazing, crazy, beautiful, brilliant, frustrating, wild, prideless, fulfilling journey I have embarked upon.

Seize the Day!!!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Life in a Pack

It has been interesting having Jill back....of course she left her puppy pack when she was 8 weeks old and went to live with Adele. Adele has done a great job with Jill.....taking her to doggy-daycare....spending time with her....and having good interactions with the two corgis that make up Adele's canine family. Adele wanted Jill to come and spend some time with my pack of border collies.....letting her be with "her people" so to speak! Jill is very people oriented....and loves to play with toys!But she was not so sure how she fit into my pack of border collies! Sister Gyp did not particularly care for her......and my dogs are not that into toys. The first couple of days, Jill stayed by me while the other collies ran around and did their back-yard moves.Today...after working sheep....Jill and Gyp have decided that they really do like each other. And Jill has decided that it is way more fun to run with the big dogs than it is to hang with boring old me......

Here is the Nell family...from left to right...Gyp, Jill (laying) Nell and big cousin on Nell's mom's side...Spark! All with Aled Owens lines in them.....what a group!

Seize the Day!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sista Jill

Adele has abandoned....oh I mean, Adele has gone on vacation and I am babysitting her Jill for a few days. Jill is out of my Nell and Kathy's Jake......Gyp's sister. Jill was the bold puppy...first out of the whelping box and very full of herself in a grand Nell sort of way. Today, I put Gyp on sheep and decided to give Jill a whirl......here she spots the sheep.....She was real nice, going both ways.....took corrections and was feeling her sheep.Quite quickly she started finding balance and holding the sheep to me.....

And I learned that taking photos of young dogs starting out....is near impossible! These pups are coming along very nicely!!!!

Seize the Day!!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Now THIS Excites Me!

My favorite runs from this past weekend's trial...were my cow runs with Bella and Nell. After taking a lesson with Bill C from the Central Point area....he showed me how my girls love to fetch and would do almost anything to fetch the cows to me. I chickened out on totally trusting them to fetch me the cows after watching a few runs go very south........and ended up having them quasi fetch them with me holding the sides if need be. For the most part, the runs were smooth, calm and sort of like watching paint dry........But on the last leg of the drive.....the cows wanted to run to the exhaust gate....and I wanted to control them....so I let the girls go to head and do some "real cowgirl work"!Talk about an adrenaline rush! For the both of us, I am sure!Cowgirl Up...Nell and Bella!

The funniest run of the weekend was Nell on ducks right after she got done working cows! We finished an 8 minute course in 1 minute and 54 seconds....thank God the ducks were Indian Runners!

Thanks Shannon from That'll Do Photography for capturing the best and funniest of me and the girls!

Seize the day!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Snook Retires......

Snook....aka Terrihill Jazz....goes back to Templeton's Roy, JH Wilson's Spot, and Tommy Wilson's Roy and June......a nicely bred girl that somehow ended up in rescue...and came to live with me.

Eight years ago, I drove up to Moses Lake, Washington to get her.......because we had a few dogs already and a couple of Jack Russell Terriers......only one rescue person would consider adopting me a dog. Here is the photo they sent me of a 10 month old Snook......
I got her for my oldest son to do agility with....and found she came with huge fear issues. Afraid of men.....and loud sounds.....both of which are found in agility......somebody suggested taking her out to a local sheep farmer's place to see if doing something genetically natural might help give her confidence. That one day changed the rest of my life......and Snook's!

She is the reason I bought 10 acres, a bunch of sheep, my llama, and tractor, and mower......oh how we loved the journey of working sheep! She also taught me that my dog is a mirror to my soul! Soft as butter on a hot August day......I found myself dog-lessly trying to work sheep if I yelled or put to much pressure into a situation. I learned how to give corrections less enthusiastically, how to temper my emotions at misbehaving sheep, and how to creatively ease sheep pressure!

We stared out in arena trials.....AHBA and gasp AKC. Small fields and "fetching" dog broke sheep created a very confident Snook!

We also did a little bit of agility......she excelled at tunnelers....but never got the hang of the contact equipment and wanted to hide every time a teeter hit.We've been to lessons and clinics.....
and Snook introduced me to USBCHA Pro Novice.
Some Pro Novice trials proved to be on too big of fields for Snook's comfort.....or too much sheep pressure for Snook to feel she could move them without a grip. Also, being a serious grudge holder.....she refused to lift off a few men that set sheep regularly at trials. After time, the two of us trialed once a year at my favorite (and only) ASCA trial.
This year, Snook went first place in Advance sheep and Advanced ducks both Saturday and Sunday...and I do believe she had the high score for the weekend. She worked real nice, but I could tell....she was sore. She is a big girl, and is hard on herself as she works......and between that and the fact that I have changed how I handle and what I expect from my dogs.....I feel it is time to let Snook retire. She will still be my front seat ride along girl...helping get a shy dog going in the round pen....moving sheep around the ranch time to time ....maybe we can get in some duck demos here and there.....but it is time.

Snook, thanks for being my first dog......you have taught me so very much.....mostly how to dream big dreams.

Seize the day!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bella's Buckle


I have achieved a goal.....my dog has earned me a buckle! Bella was crowned the "Most Promising Started" dog! Beautiful!!! Very proud of all my dogs and will post more later....but exhaustion sets in! All I can say is......I had a "cow high" today....as did my Nell and Bella!
Seize the Day!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sweet

Nell and Bella worked cows today! And nicely, might I add.

I was actually quite please with all my runs......tomorrow is another day!

Seize the day!!!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Calapooia Classic Farm Trial

Today, I participated in my first ever ASCA Farm trial. I definitely signed Snook up to run....this weekend is dedicated to Snook, my first border collie....a rescue that does best in arena trials. Then I got to the trial...and a moment of weakness overcame me..... and I entered Nell too. What the heck.....let's see how she is coming at tight work, I said to myself!

The trial site owner was busy putting the finishing touches on the course.......while the judge held a handler's meeting.....and the course director patiently answered all of my rather ridiculous questions!
I also brought along my own personal fan club who cheered...."go, Lora, go, Lora" while I ran!
The sheep were a very nice, fit group of katahdin and dorper crossed ewes and lambs.The course was a mix of field work, loading a trailer miscellaneous pen work, and a gate sortpushing through a foot bathall accomplished by a variety of breeds of working dogs!I thought it was a lot of fun....and it was definitely a lot of team work for me and my girls! Snook ended up 2nd in the open class (which is the middle class because ASCA makes you start out at the very beginning with no regard to how trained a dog is) and Nell finished in 1st in open...three points off a perfect run. I am tickled by how great they handled all the different aspects of farm work. And another great run was had by my friend Traci and her sheltie Kant!
Tomorrow is the regular ASCA trial....in which I will run four dogs....I am so excited but I need to get a good night's sleep!

Seize the Day!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Getting Ready....

Every year, I go to one Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA ) trial. It is held in Sweet Home, Oregon and hosted by my good friends at Vaquero Aussies! The trial has sheep, cows and ducks.....and it was one of the first trials I attended when I started 5 1/2 years ago. Needless to say, it brings very fond memories.

This year I am trialing FOUR dogs at this trial, with Nell and Bella running on all three stock flavors! Yikes. In preparation....I have been working all the girls...and was very glad to be invited down to work some lighter hair sheep. Sometimes these "lighter" sheep can get in Bella's head...so it was good to work with her on being calm and staying clean on her flanks.
In addition to my four dogs running......I have three friends that take lessons with me running! I think I am more excited for them to have the opportunity to go and be a team with their dogs. They have all worked hard and their dogs look real nice. Tomorrow starts off with a small ranch dog trial, then Saturday and Sunday the arena trial. Traci, Charlotte, Gabrielle......it's time......


Seize the Day!!!!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Palm Cottage...as told by me

Palm Cottage......what a lovely sheepdog trial. Now don't be confusing "lovely" with easy...or simple....or straightforward. Palm Cottage is anything but those things.....

Friday ran pronovice, nursery and novice......I was in a hurry and did not take one photo. The sheep...having never been worked by dogs before were crazy wild...as proven by the lack of one single pen in the first round of either pronovice or nursery. My run with Nell, I felt like it was all crisis, escape management! My insistence on a down caused much distress in my dog and left me "late" and us not in the "team mode". But we got 'er done...and finished in the top third. Bella....had a rouge sheep created by her very tight lift....and ended up gripping out....but we did not have to buy any sheep so all's well that ends well!

Saturday dawned with a clear sky....Sally drew up in the teens. I was thankful for an early go as the clear day made for a hot afternoon.

The open outrun at Palm Cottage is very tricky....about 1/4 of the dogs did not make it to the sheep! See.....we stood in this one field.....and sent down into a wee little gate...that opens into a big field cattywhompas to the field we were in. Sending right....a fence caught the dogs and limped them along to the gate opening. Left....the field opened up and behind and if the dog got lost......there was not much hope of finding the gate. That, and shadows from the trees created trickery for the dogs!
In hopes of getting the dog through the gate and into the top field, handlers would line up and stand off to the side of the handler actually at the post.....thus encouraging their dog to spot the sheep being set.
The sheep were brought up the dippy hill and semi-around the post...slipping between the judges tent and finishing the course in the field behind the handler. The exhaust for all three days was to the hard right.....making a huge draw around the post and again in the shed ring.
The pen was made complicated by twitchy sheep....a flick of the rope would send them jumping....and too much pressure found at least one squirting out of what looked to be a good committed pen!My goal.......as I stood amongst the spotting fiends....was to have Sally see the sheep coming through the gate. Which did me just fine....with a little whistle help......Sal found the gate....and.... crossed over to go back to the set sheep. Yikes, oh well, game on.....I worked on some pace as she brought them on the fetch...nice turn....skimmed the panels....got the shed....and best of all....got the pen! Gate shut...swoosh!

Sunday dawned cooler with cloud coverage....which was nice as Sally and I had drawn up in the 30's and had us walking to the post around 1:30. It was getting a little warm but still there was a breeze and I was not worried. After "mind-melding" with Sally....visualizing her kicking out "away" through the gate...and well, chatting with her a little....I was sure we had it as she went through the first field with confidence and a wink of "I know there is a gate here!". She went through the gate with thought......I blew the lie down whistle.....got a hitch....blew a good deep wide away.....and Sal....crossed over, yet again going come-bye! What can a girl do but laugh! Somehow...not sure just how, but some how, the sheep were brought through the gate.....running hard.....and try as we may...I could not slow them enough and they missed going around the post. Having spent time working on pressure and walking into sheep not wanting to move and pushing back, I chose to unwind and make my post "correct". Sally was a rock star....dealing with intense sheep pressure in two areas and on we went for our drive. We actually hit our cross drive panel.....made our shed....and found rattled, run-on-the-fetch sheep that liked neither of us at the pen.

Here is what I learned from this weekend......1) Sally has come a long way! 2) I have come a long way! 3) we still have things to work on! 4) this journey is special....very much mine and Sally's and one to be treasured, embraced, counting the blessings of the gifts and tribulations 5) other people's journeys are their own...filled with what they chose to look at and how they decide to address what is presented by their handling, their dog, and their view of the sheep. 6) I am thankful to my friends who come along side me on my journey and share in it...both with honesty, positive feedback, and tips for improvement! 7) I am thankful to people who put on trials...and those who work them...and for Maggi for setting for me...and for Joe for helping me take a breath and look back...and for Geri, and Candy, and Patrick, and Dianne for pushing me forward and not letting me fall down!


And with that......I plan to....


Seize the day!!!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Catching the Double Lift

Being the Course Director......I did odd jobs around the Sheep Thrillz trial. I volunteered Nell to be the fist double lift catch girl! This is where the dog (and handler) keep the sheep at the stake where they are softly deposited before the dog goes back up the field for the second packet of sheep. "Softly deposited" being what a handler should strive for!
Nell and I hid behind the blue tarp in the exhaust pen, waiting for the first fetch......Being super keen....Nell just had to watch....taking notes and giving quiet encouragement.As the sheep neared the drop stake......I slipped Nell out from her hiding spot to put pressure on the sheep to hold them there......Well done, Nell.

That'll do......

Seize the Day!

Friday, July 9, 2010

NY Dog Walker......

The Sheep Thrillz Sheep Dog Trial was visited by a world famous New York Dog Walker.......Seems he even fashions matching leads......Rumor has it that he does the most amazing rendition of "Wild Thing"......
Seize the Day!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Magical Moments

Nell ran non-compete open at Sheep Thrillz......after running through me on her first pro novice go....and me over controlling her the second pro novice go......her open run was that magical moment in time where I felt very in sync with my dog!















Thank you, Traci, for making my keepsake of Nell's open non-compete run! And thank you, Mr. Judge Sir, for inspiring me to be more!

Seize the Day!