Tuesday, August 31, 2010
It all started last Monday when Sally had an ulcer between her toes and, though not getting worse, it certainly was not getting better. My vet did an exploratory surgery and said....he was not sure she would be good to run by Thursday. Then I noticed she was coming into heat.....and Bella is on a trial break.....so as much as I hate missing a fantastic party....I pulled from my South Dakota trip. Then I crawled back into bed and pulled the covers over my head for a real good pity party! The kind of party I hate attending! This was short-lived as my good friend from the Border Collie Training Center called and said...."GET DOWN HERE!" So I did........
The first evening of working dogs was all about assessing what I saw in my girls at LaCamas. I have worked real hard on pace and feel with Nell. That is good...if not great. But now...I think I need to give her some push back...and eventually push on lambs that are so very different from ewes and lambs. Geri showed me some things she has been doing with her seasoned open dog Jim
Monday, August 30, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
While at LaCamas, I asked a fellow training friend...."what makes a person decide to move a dog to open?" Over the years, I have seen a few dogs moved to open prematurely, in my humble opinion. One would be my Sally. I ran her in four pro novice trials before I moved her up and, though I do not regret it....I do feel like I pushed her too fast in our relationship. Now a year later, I believe we are clicking and she is doing open work with me.
My friend shared some sage words and I now summarize and share them here with my interpretation..... "move the dog to open when you are no longer training during the run, when your dog is working for you and you feel you have the team relationship to work through what can happen on an open course". This isn't to say that your runs will go perfect, or that you don't have things to continue to work on and train, or that your dog doesn't need time, miles, and experiences. But certainly do not move a dog up that can not complete a pro novice course time and again.....and I am not talking about winning.....instead completion of a course with good method and team work.
Who would have ever thought at the beginning of May....as I began my intense "Figure Nell Out or Die Trying" quest.....that I would be moving her to open at Colliding Rivers Classic Sheepdog Trial....but here I am. Nell's debut! I feel like we have been a consistent team all summer...with Nell wanting to work with me each time we go to sheep. So, here I go....jumping off that cliff into the ocean of possibilities! Bring it on!
I'm packing the car......and getting ready to leave....and of course killing a bunch of time trying to sort out my inability to post photos here!
Seize the Day!!!!
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
My plans changed in the blink of a vet visit.....all things leading to the road to South Dakota were falling apart. Bella needs a break from trialing.....then Sally got a sore on her foot and though I started treating it at LaCamas....it was not getting any better. A brief exploratory surgery and a change in antibiotics left my vet wanting to see her again if things did not improve. A three day one way drive was beginning to look very different with the possibility of running just one pro novice dog. So I cut my losses...and sadly pulled from the trial and road trip.
As with most "things" in my life of dogs.....it went from crazy wild...to boring and mundane...to crazy and wild as I packed the car and headed to Tulelake to work dogs with Geri and Lana. I am very excited as Geri is going to show me some ways to help Nell bore into sheep.....and Lana asked me to help move her "mob" of sheep tomorrow morning! I had best read up on the article Lana wrote for the Working Border Collie Magazine about this sort of task! I'm hoping she will allow me to work Bella on this large group.....I think it would be very good for her.
Then....Miss Nell is moving to open! She will be running at the Colliding Rivers Classic in Roseburg over the weekend. Making lemonade out of lemons and the disappointment of not making it to South Dakota. I'm hoping to get this lap top all figured out to wow you with my updates on my Rocking Life on the road!
Seize the Day!!!
Sunday, August 22, 2010
It is time for me to stop procrastinating and get on with packing to go to South Dakota! Off on one crazy adventure.....with stops along the way both coming and going to work dogs with friends! But I must pack first...and grocery shop.....and put out feed for the sheep.....and......
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
In other news: Gyp got a new collar......it seems to fit her a little better!
I love this collar! The brass plate has all my information on it so the dogs don't need to wear tags. It also has a middle brass ring for ease of snapping on a leash. I get my collars from Gun Dog Supply.
Lastly, here is my question......what makes somebody "deserve to be successful" when it comes to working dogs and stockdog trials?
Off to work some lambs...LaCamas starts tomorrow!
Seize the DAY!!!!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
Each morning dawned with a light fog.....that dissipated with the intense sun. The clinic started as soon as the field cleared, trying to beat the heat.As I mentioned, the clinician was Scott Glen from Canada.....the 2004 USBCHA champion and reserve champion....and 2009 Nursery Champion. He brought his very own special chair for use on the field......it doubled as a training stick on occassion.
Since the focus was on handling....I chose to work Nell. My intense 'Nell focus' started in March....and Nell is really starting to work nicely as a good team member for me. I have been mulling over some feedback I have received from a couple of different open handler friends that have watched me run Nell at a few trials this summer....and I had some questions I wanted to sort out with a little different handling perspective. Armed with two pages of a legal pad worth of questions.....that is exactly what I got!
What I took away from this clinic was.....I love how Scott handles his dogs, what he sees, and the precision of understanding he strives for. Those qualities bring really nice runs on a consistent basis. Though he handles a bit different from how I have trained....I do believe we met in the middle! That precision of understanding was lacking in my relationship with Nell...mostly because of the ambiguity I was creating. My "lie down" command had about 4 different meanings.....which was creating confusion when I really wanted a firm stop at the top! After some intense analyzing of my head and what my dog understands...I actually had some more effective tools in my shed for hitches.....instead of using a "lie down" meaning hitch instead of an actual stop. We did a whole open type of trial run today...and I really pounded on my head to use my communication tools to convey exactly what I wanted.....my poor head hurt a bit from using this precise muscle that I have not used before.....but Nell loved it! So then I loved it....and the wheel goes round and round!
My friend Monique wrote on her blog something that Scott shared with her at a lesson a while back "Your job is to always know where your dog's mind is, and be able to anticipate her next step at any instant during work. It's your responsibility to be one step ahead of the dog at all times." That tid bit has been burned into my brain....and is what I learned again and again at this clinic. KNOW YOUR DOG! If Nell wants to go to head.....the closer I put her there with a flank....the more I will have to lie her down to keep her from going to head. That is a "good" use of my lie down and I had best mean it. If I see tension in Nell, it is my job to see it and use the tools we have established to take the tension out.
The best part of going to this clinic was to be able to walk away and begin to formulate a plan using what I have learned with adjustments to each of my dogs and what I know about them. I am really looking forward to a very special trial that starts Thursday....LaCamas. I think I should go get KNOW YOUR DOG tattooed on the inside of my eyelids....that and WATCH YOUR SHEEP!
Tomorrow ends the four day clinic....I came home a day early to check the ranch but my "check engine light" came on and my van going to the shop for a check-up will keep me from going back for the last day. I'm really okay with how my clinic experience is ending....on a really great note with handling ideas for me to ponder and have become a part of my relationship with my dogs! Thank you, Scott Glen......for all that you gave me! Priceless.
Seize the Day!
Friday, August 13, 2010
Then I put Miss Gyp on sheep and asked Shannon to take a few pics.....I do believe Gyp is going to be a lot like her mama......And this here was the sweet icing on the cake......
I LOVE working dogs.....with good friends!
Seize the Day!
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
I recently wrote, "a good run with my dogs does not make me a good person, a good trainer, nor does it make me have a good day.....any more that a bad run makes me a bad person, a bad trainer nor can it make me have a bad day." I believe that to the core of my being. Case in point....Bella and I had THE worst run we have experienced ever on the trial field at the Island Crossing Sheepdog Trial. It was BAD.....I felt embarrassed, frustrated....but more, I felt I had let my dog down....not seeing in her the lack of tools needed to pull off this run and this lack making her not believe in me. I actually crawled through a space in the fence to get to my car to think and sort....rather than get unsolicited critique from the innocent if I had walked in front of the handler's tent. I also called a friend, one I have spent time training Bella with, to sort through what I was seeing....make sure my plan was a good one....and get another perspective on what might have happened. I patted Bella on the head and we agreed we had "relational" work to do.......and more training....and that I would not let her down on my end. Shortly there after, I had to get Nell out of her crate for her run....and let all those "Bella thoughts" fly away so I could run Nell with a clear head and no undeserved tension. Practicing "the art of letting go".....allowed me to have one of the best runs with Nell that we have ever had....filled with team work, trust, understanding and no baggage from previous runs.
I think back to what Jack Kn*x told me...."if you focus on improving your relationship with your dog...eventually you will win. If all you focus on is winning.....you won't" He also told me that "I make too big of a deal out of the great things my dogs do.....as well as making too huge of a deal when things go bad" Okay...so that would be my interpretation of what he said.....but that is what I heard him say! Ruminating on this....it is so freeing...to see Bella's terrible run as a map to what I need to help her with 1) lifting off people 2) getting used to not having as much room at the top as she would like 3) taking input on her outrun and not feeling pressure from it 4) helping her to lift and fetch at 350 and 5) cleaning up me......stop means stop.....giving her some black and white boundaries to build confidence so she does not feel like I have left her hanging. Bella's bad run was no big deal! On the other hand...Nell's really good run was no big deal either. It showed me that we are heading in the right direction in our relationship. We still have work...she over-ran the top of her outrun on sheep that would not forgive that......and I mishandled the pen. But again, it is a snapshot of where we are right now.
I am also working on applying this as I watch others run their dogs at trials. There are some folks that I aspire to handle like......and there are others that have their own way of working dogs. It certainly does not matter....each of us have our own journey.......and our difference of opinion does not matter! I get to chose who I listen to......which tidbits I let in......who I seek out for input. I also need to embrace that each dog I work with...has a special journey to share with me. No set formula....no time frame.....each works with their own method....and, if I am an open minded seeker.....I will learn, grow, and become with the dog.
This being the case, I am excited to see what I can learn from a "handling clinic". I am preparing myself to be open to what insight can come from intensely looking at how I handle each of my dogs. I know Scott's style of handling is a bit different from those I train with regularly.....I am excited to challenge myself to gain knowledge and understanding......finding a style that suites me. The journey continues.....the challenges intensify.......
Seize the Day!!!!!!!
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Monday, August 9, 2010
As I said....the terrain was crazy challenging which provided extremes for me....."it was the best of times, it was the worst of times!" See, there was this gully, trench, long dip that ran across the top third of the field...call it what you like but, one would lose sight of the sheep in various places of the run....especially if things did not go as visualized.....because of that darn gully!
same run....sheep are in the gully.....nice dogand here they come.......This same gully created havoc on the outrun......obvious a dog could not see the sheep as they crossed it....so many a dog would run the lip of it only to cross on the outrun! It also created chaos on the drive....the wicked humored judge putting the cross drive line just this side of the gully.....off line...no sheep!
The pro novice day both Bella and Nell ran. Bella had lovely big outruns only to be shattered by tension on the lift. Back to the drawing board.....I need to lift off people with her....and work tight spots...then add in some really light sheep. Enough said. Nell got lost on her first outrun....darn gully....but we pulled it back together which gave me great hope for our second go. Nell and I ran second to last.....and all those training tears, counselling sessions with mentors and friends, hours and hours of obsessively thinking, watching, training....paid off as we entered the Zone. It was that magical moment where my dog and I were a team...Nell doing her part and me doing mine.......I could not hear a sound as I think the folks watching might have entered the zone with me.....and Nell won her first ever Pro Novice trial. Gosh I love that dog.....that whole relationship "thing" that happened was beyond any words I could use to describe......and sweeter yet was ending in third place combining both runs. Consistency with Nell.......I think I like it!
It was on to open....and what I can say is....I saw some fabulous runs ....great dogs...creative handling.....and Sally and I made progress. Her first run she struggled to find the sheep....but her second run she took a redirect from me on her outrun for the first time ever.....leaving me feeling like a winner! Both runs, I decided to leave the post to get understanding from Sally regarding taking a flank out of the pressure point....and am glad I did. Echoing in my head were words from Patrick.....sometimes you have to give-up a run to train a dog! I'm not working for today....but am looking ahead .......and so Sally and I made progress in our understanding and that has become winning in my book. It feels good to live it......
Now I prepare for four intense days of a handling clinic with Scott Glen.....bring it on!
Seize the Day!
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Here's to dreams of lambs next spring......
Seize the Day!
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Seize the Day!!!!!