Saturday, October 30, 2010

Let the Games Begin!

I do believe I was just saying that October was crazy:  filled with trials and miles.  I think I might have also mentioned that things were slowing down for winter training.....I lied.  Today marked the beginning of some fun "winter" trials.....closer to home, smaller in numbers for sure, generally one day only.....but still a lot of fun and more courses for the dogs to get some good work on.  Really, the Willamette valley is a great place to live when it comes to sheepdog trials.  If a person is willing to drive 5 hours (give or take) there would be 3 out of 4 weekends per month that a sheepdog trial is offered. 

Today was the first of a three part series.....this trial hosted by Ian and Raven Caldicott.  To stick with the "fun" theme...they had a Halloween costume competition.  Here, Amy C and Shauna W showed their spirit and love of a good time...all the way down to the ruby slippers LIVE Toto in the basket!

They won...hands down! I'll have to be better prepared for next year!

The open class at this trial ran on Shetland sheep.  Talk about some serious fun!!!!  Shetland sheep are known for being reactive, touchy, little beasts that will run, not bunch, and take advantage of any weakness in a dog.  People were frisked for concealed weapons before allowed to the post....many of us wanted to shoot one of our group of 5 sheep.  Sandy Johnson and Joe SMOKED the course!  I was happy with both of my runs.  Nell stayed cool-headed under pressure.  Her flanks were very clean and she totally "got" how far off she needed to be.  Though she did not totally understand the concept of small flanks...she was settling and and giving me great work.  She had one older ewe that really did not want to stay with the other four so she had to work and listen to put the run down.  Sally had yet another very nice run.  She is working so well with me right now....very supple and best of all a great teammate.  Both runs certainly challenged me to step up my sheep reading and handling skills!

The pro novice ran on the home flock of Scotties.....I decided to not run Bella...she is close but not quiet ready. 

Jo F's young dog does a great job on the pro novice course
After the trial, I went back to the ranch and worked Bella and Gyp.  I just could not resist! What a fabulous day!!!!

I also wanted to clarify something here regarding my last Soapbox post.  In the comment section a friend mentioned "rerun".  My clarification is....the post was really about how we, as handlers show kindness to each other.  I also think kindness is extended not through rules or overseen by a governing body....but instead is based on putting relationships ahead of self serving actions.  Thanks for all the great mind expanding discussion......change starts with a thought and continues with action. Maybe I am more sensitive on the heals of news about a friend's struggle with cancer.....it is good to keep perspective!



As always....

Seize the Day!!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Soap Box

I'm not sure if I have ever used my blog as a soap box for expressing my opinion in this fashion before.  I do express my opinion....I actually seem to have one regarding any given topic.....and sometimes, just sometimes, can get quiet passionate about topics.  Since my latest brain exercising wonderment has to do with a trial....I thought I would put it down in words here on my blog.

What has happened to the human spirit that another handler would not think about putting the handler running on the course first and foremost in their mind and actions?

Here is what happened.....at a recent trial, the field was huge with a lot of terrain and hosted a 550+yard outrun.  The dirt lane to get to the handler/spectator parking ran on the right side of the field along side an unharvested corn field.  On a number of runs, handlers sent to the right and their dogs ended up on that lane, which really was not a lane but a path that was made for farm equipment and used for the trial.  *IMHO* in the real world this would not be a bad thing.....for goodness sakes.....we would want the entire filed swept for sheep so not one woolly creature is left behind for the coyotes and wolves.  It was a little wide for the trial...but most of the dogs who ran that big could be brought around to the packet of set sheep with the cost for the outrun paid in minutes and not many points. In the morning, that lane, the focus of part of my soap box, remained unused for the most part.  However, mid afternoon, the novice field was wrapping up and folks were coming over to the open field....and the lane became a little highway...well at least for Milton Freewater!  During one run, a young dog got a little lost on its outrun and ended up on the lane now turned highway....and not one handler driving stopped their car.  Really....they could not be bothered to stop their car and wait the oh....say.....maybe 2 minutes it was going to require to get the dog up to the sheep or the handler to leave the post.  And had the first car stopped...the other two would have been forced to stop...and the dog's safety would not have been pounding in the heart of its owner who was trying to help her dog.  I got so nervous for my friend and her dog that I almost cried....started looking for a 4-wheeler to go do something....and then changed my whole plan for my own dog who was sent on her way two runs later. This could have happened to me and Sally and I do not have as many bells and whistles on my dog. 

Yet another soap box.....it gets better....at the same time as the highway was being created.....a handler decided to walk their dog.  I guess they did not want to miss any of the trial so they took off and came back on the field to the right.  They might have used the lane/road at any other time...but it was being used by cars and trucks to get back to the open field.....so instead they walked on the field.  Many of our dogs....when they loose sight of sheep on big fields with terrain....look for people and dogs.  That would indicate the set out crew.  And yet again, I question the heart of a handler that would not consider the impact of their actions on a run that is being put down by a fellow handler.

Interesting take from some of the chatter on Facebook....another handler wrote something along the lines of "tough luck" and "you pay and take chances".  I pay my money in entry fees....and drive huge distances to run....to see what my dog can do on that given day...on that field....on those sheep.  My dog gets lost...stuck on the exhaust....too big to the set out.....can't handle light sheep...can't walk onto heavy sheep....won't bite a nasty sheep.....or has a smoking run....I agree...that is what I pay for.  I do not pay to have another handler ruin my run.

I'm hoping that this journey of mine with my sheepdogs makes me a better person.  I'm trying to seep my soul in that endeavour:  yelling a little less, forgiving a little more, setting a few healthy boundaries, loving a little deeper, understanding my challenge is to get the absolute most out of life and my dogs, not by force but by relationship... to give a little more than I take, to put others first (with in those healthy boundaries), and to "do unto others as I would have them do unto me".  It does not mean I have to be a push over....nor does it mean that I can give money back after the closing date....but it does mean I can look at my actions and see if I can be a little bit more concerned about those around me, how I affect them, celebrating their successes and sharing their tears....and making darn sure, to the best of my ability, I don't ruin a run! (even when I set sheep...but that it is a topic for another day)

I sure hope the crud leaves my lungs soon.....so I can climb off my soap box and get on with training my dogs.  Off to shed......

Seize the Day!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Things that Should Not Be Shared!

It does not matter how it started....or how many people were apart of its spreading.....but absolutely, hands down, no ifs ands or butts.....the FLU should not be shared!  So without accusing anybody...and certainly not the man I sleep with....I got the crud in a big way!  I have waaayyy too much to do for this.....but so as not to waste any down time....I put in this DVD

Yep, A Shedding Clinic with Alasdair MacRae...which I bought from The Border Collie Training Center!  Why, you ask, did I watch a shedding DVD?  Well at least those of you that were not at Fire Ridge are asking that question.....and I answer......which of the following actions did I perform in my shed with dogs at Fire Ridge? 

A) made a hole as big as a freight car
B) called dog through the hole I made that was as big as a freight car
C) when begging did not work to get dog through freight car sized hole....stepped into said hole to hold the sheep myself
D) when dog still would not come through...walked onto the sheep myself calling  here here here
E) when dog finally came through hole that was now bigger than a entire freight train... crossed the bows with the dog
F) managed to get judge to call said shed and then told him..."wow that was a crappy shed!"
G) missed perfect shed opportunity for Nell as I was thinking she needed a freight car sized hole to come through and the next shed she showed how wrong I was
H) had judge say "talk to me tonight about your shedding"
I) all the above

Nuf said!

So I am now on a 30 day shedding extravaganza with Mr. MacRae.  On days where I am running short on time, I might just skip to all the very pretty sheds preformed with style, grace, incredible timing and sheep reading by the fur-cap clad Haley Howard.  You can also bet your bottom dollar...shedding will be one of the topics for my Scott Glen lesson next week!

The couch and TV beckon me.....off to shed....while Nell covers the runaways.

Seize the Day!

PS as soon as I feel better I am off to get my flu shot, my pneumonia shot, and my swine flu shot.....

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fire Ridge...For the First Time

Not many sheepdog trial stories have left me quaking in my boots....except those told about Fire Ridge.  The field...big, wild, raw. The sheep...bigger, wilder, rawer!  The trial host, Melinda, and I have become friends over the years.....working together at the USBCHA finals in Klamath Falls.  She's been after me to come to her trial....saying things like "it is the challenge that makes it fun" and "don't you want to see how your dogs can do"?  This year, I swallowed my fears and in a moment of bravery...filled out the entry form, posted it in the mail, loaded the car and drove 5 1/2 hours to "see what my dogs could do and experience the "fun" challenge".  I am so very glad I did!
The field was amazing.....big with lots of terrain.  Nell wanted to go left but I had her go right and she crossed.  I was able to stop her...but her blow-outs were small and did not get her there.  Once she crossed, the rest of the outrun was fabulous; nice and deep with a lovely little lift. I know..."besides that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play!"  She had a 'Nell' moment at the top of the fetch....and I used my 'you had better behave or I am running up that field' correction.....absolutely made her take that come bye flank...and it was game on.  I was so tickled with how she worked these fine wooled ewes!  Settled right in with nice pace and no slipping off to catch an eye.  My Nell homework is dealing with lambs, as shown from the previous trial....and trusting her on the shed.  All in all, it was a great run showing me exactly where we need to focus some attention this winter.

Lana and Nell....you can see the top of the fetch panels right in front of Nell
Sally's run was nice too.  I made the choice to send her left.....namely because the pro novice field had wrapped up and handlers were coming back to the open field, using the road that ran to the right.  If a dog ran a little wide....and drivers were not paying attention.....a dog could get hit and I really like my dog!  Sally took a small blow out right when she lost sight of the sheep...and the rest of the outrun was very good.  I liked her run.....but our shed....well our shed was the worst one I have ever done at a trial.  I actually said something to that effect and broke out into hysterical laughter as I went to the pen.  Me and Sal...we need to work on our shed...nuf said!

It was fun seeing how the girls worked on the sheep and the challenge of the field....Melinda was right!  As I said, this was Nell's second time on fine wool sheep....and she handled them like an open dog.  And Sally, well she just keeps giving me more and more....that feels so fabulous! Her run was during a tough time of the day....5 runs prior to her and 3 runs after ended in retires. She did me so proud.

tough crowd!
I came home after my runs to watch my son play football.  My original plan was to get up early Saturday and go back to finish the trial.  However, age, fatigue, and a cold shared by my husband made me a wimpy weak person and I stayed home.  I am looking forward to some home time....getting things in order for winter and training dogs! I'll be sure to add Fire Ridge to my list of 'must go to trials'....it was a great one!

Seize the Day!!!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Behind the Scenes

Months before the trial started, Bob, Alistair and I made plans.  I thought it would be "cute" to mark the shed ring with little pumpkins.  When the trial arrived, the grass was too tall to see these cute pumpkins so the boys improvised and the shed was marked with straw...and cute little pumpkins. 


Thursday night, we had the handlers meeting.  Those who had come early, quickly walked the course and then Mother Nature gave all a welcome show before tucking the sheep in for bed.


The next morning...and every morning of the trial...we walked out onto the field amongst the dreaded fog.  Friday we had 52 dogs to run....needless to say...the fog's desire to hang out and watch a few runs was not appreciated. 


On Sunday, Nell and I got to be the "hazer" and exhaust team.  We never did have to haze the sheep...which would have been keeping the first group of 10 off the exhaust while the dog did its look-back and brought the second pack of 10.  However, we did exhaust a few runs.  It was good for Nell to have to wait "patiently" for 30 minutes before being sent out on 20 lambs. 



The lambs were the same that were run on at LaCamas.  The Anderson Ranch brought them in for us.  Funny how just a few months of age changed the characteristics of how they ran and reacted to the dogs. 


I've been dubbed "certifiably CRAZY" from all but my closest dog friends.....as I pack my car and get read to hit the road to attend yet another FABULOUS trial...Fire Ridge.  I'm looking forward to putting Sally and Nell on Eric Harlow's fine wool range ewes and see what we can do with that. 

Seize the Day!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Rest of the Story

Sally and I competed in the Double Lift portion of the District 1 Regional and lived to tell about it!  Yes we did.  I used every second of our thirty minutes.....and from there I am not sure what all I can say.  It was the best of times...it was yin and yang....good stuff, not so good stuff, great stuff and a heck of a lot going on in between.  So many times, I thought about leaving that post...we certainly did not keep the huge crowd on the edge of their seats....but then...heck....it was just me and my dog, a big field, 20 sheep...and a judge who would call me off it he felt like I should not be out there....so Sally and I kept going!

I'll just tell it...then sort it....the first outrun was to the right sending into a complicated mix of building, straw stack, and stuff making it very hard to see the sheep and I don't think one dog nailed it without some information from their handler. The team that ran just before me could not get to the first packet of sheep.....so I went onto the field with my sheep already good and set......and with only 10 minutes of pre-game under my belt.


Because I had sent right the day before......Sally was pretty sure she knew where the sheep were. Note to Sally.....they moved the set-out darlin'.....so she did a bit of crossing and running before she found the packet and brought them...missing the fetch panels by a tad.


It took me a bit to get her off the first packet of sheep and looking back for her second set.  She gave me that sweet look-back and went off to her left.  I had great hope as it was looking good.....and by golly she came in under the darn sheep, skipping over their toes, and went off all over the field...running miles and miles.  After she settled down a little....I was able to pull her in and redirect her to the second group...being thankful that there are only 20 points to loose on that second outrun regardless of how silly my dog got.


The pull was very hard to the left on the second gather.  I was tickled with my girl...being able to put her in the pressure and not have her unwind. 

By the time I got the second group down the field....my first group had wandered over towards the exhaust.  I was thankful for Lana hazing the sheep and making them stay on the field!  Sally was able to put the 20 lambs together....bring them up and around the post....and onto the start of the drive.


I have to say...this was the most complicated work I have ever done.  20 hungry lambs.....wanting to graze and not thrilled about getting through the course that lay ahead of us.  I handled Sally in a way I felt would help her best with these sheep....I flanked her a lot...trying to not let any sub-packet of sheep stop to graze.  It was a good plan for the most part....we hit our first drive panel, accomplished a decent cross drive...

                          

and skimmed the second drive panel but pushed them past to bring them at a clip to the shed ring.


Our shed was pretty darn okay.....my best attempt at an international shed to date! 


We timed out just as Sally came in to take the five collared away. It felt so satisfying to have the group of five with their cute red collars all together even though we did not make it in time.


Sally and I ended up finishing in fifth place for the day.  Placement aside....there was so much I loved about the weekend.  First and best, my little dog wanted to run for me...she gave me her heart and tried to figure out what I was asking...that was priceless.  I also felt like I, in return, gave back things that I have been working on in myself.  Not making a big deal about things going wrong but instead putting them back together as quickly as possible and letting it go. 

Back to reality...today I go and gather all my trial goods from the field.  Then I pack and continue on to another trial with a reputation for being a GREAT one...Fire Ridge.  There I will run Sally and Nell on fine wool range ewes.....

Seize the Day!!!!

ps thanks to Cheryl for taking pictures....capturing my day forever!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

True Confessions

I have learned a little more about myself this weekend.  First, my blog is so much easier for me to share details in the training up of my dogs, trialing challenges....you know....life!  I had a long blog entry developed in my head to share with you all how, on Friday....I walked to the post, third to run...with the wrong dog.  Yep, I grabbed the wrong dog.....man is that hard to write....and not only disqualified her, Sally.....but also disqualified Nell with that one silly run.  I was so disappointed in myself.....I had a card of excuses in my back pocket.  But reality is, this is my third trial with two open dogs and I need to be more meticulous with details so as to not let my girls down. Good to have those 11 minutes at the exhaust to sort that all out....done and behind me.....on to the rest of the day! 

But, I am deviating from the topic...here is my true confession.  It is so hard to write about success.  To keep a good run in perspective and know......it was that....a good run.  I had one of those with Sally yesterday, Saturday of the Regionals.  It was a magic moment as she left my feet, first dog on the course...sending right; as left had her up to the set out on her now famous DQ run the day before.  She hitched at the top....brought them on the fetch with nice pace and good feel.....around the post......hit our first panel with a small bobble from one of the sheep.....cross drive a tad low but doable to hit the cross drive panel.  To the shed ring for a missed attempt (darn sheep that jumped up over her as she was trying to hold that shed).....bringing those sheep right around to nail it....into the pen with 1:15 on the clock.  Sweet Mother Mary....90! 

Now it is 5:00 Sunday morning.....I am getting my game face on for the double lift.  Still wrapping my head around winning an open trial, getting points for the nationals, and trying to remember all that Scott Glen and Patrick Shannahan have taught me about international sheds. I'll be running against some really great handlers.... Karen Child, Geri Byrne, Rochelle Sanford, Sandy Babb, Lynn Johnston, Laura Vishoot, Noelle Williams, Bill Orr, Francis Chai, Liz Hubbard, Sandy Milberg.   I drew up 5th....Sally has a sweet little look back on her.....it is time.  I will be back tomorrow with some pictures and stories....but now....it is time to read these next words and live them to the fullest....

SEIZE THE DAY!

thanks for listening

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Saturday's Running Order

1 Lora Withnell Salem, OR Sally


2 Ron Green Nine Miles Falls, WA Tigr

3 Francis Chai Bend, OR Loon

4 Lana Rowley Malin, OR Nellie

5 Geri Byrne Tulelake, CA Dan

6 Laura Vishoot Cottage Grove, OR Brynn

7 Maggi McClure Vashon, WA Kep

8 Karen Child Culver, OR Jim

9 Lynn Johnston Camas, WA Anna

10 Cheryl Munson Orting, WA Flint

11 Sue MacDonald Longbranch, WA Jan

12 Rochelle Stanford Ramona, CA Koko

13 Noelle Williams Dear Park, WA Nap

14 Sandy Babb Myrtle Creek, OR Cap

15 Vickie Close Coeur d' Alene,ID Hanna

16 Bob Dias Ramona, CA Rock

17 Ian Caldicott Scio, OR Joe Kidd

18 Norman Close Coeur d' Alene,ID Gwen

19 Bob Hickman Yelm, WA Trooper

20 Ray Coapman Montague, CA Jill

21 Haley Howard Alturas, CA Ross

22 Karen Child Culver, OR Hickory

23 Bill Orr Eagle Point, OR Boone

24 Brian Ricards Bellevue, WA Doc

25 Diane Pagel Carnation, WA Nan

26 Heidi Hanson Graham, WA Pete

27 Karen Child Culver, OR Rock

28 Laura Vishoot Cottage Grove, OR Ripley

29 Lora Withnell Salem, OR Nell

30 Ian Caldicott Scio, OR Bear

31 Diane Pagel Carnation, WA Roo

32 Francis Chai Bend, OR Chime

33 Liz Hubbard Bonanza, OR Beatrice

34 Cheryl Munson Orting, WA Jett

35 Haley Howard Alturas, CA Bodie

36 Bob Hickman Yelm, WA CBK Mojo

37 Noelle Williams Dear Park, WA JumpinW Lad

38 Geri Byrne Tulelake, CA Jim

39 Ron Green Nine Miles Falls, WA Del ‘Mar Kane

40 Bob Dias Ramona, CA McCloud

41 Maggi McClure Vashon, WA Lil

42 Norman Close Coeur d' Alene,ID Jake

43 Susan Lindstedt Homedale, ID Vangie

44 Michele Howard Alturas, CA Jill

45 Lynn Johnston Camas, WA Jesse

46 Vickie Close Coeur d' Alene,ID Gail

47 Brian Ricards Bellevue, WA Mig

48 Sandra Milberg Santa Rosa, CA Quill

49 Lana Rowley Malin, OR Kell

50 Sandy Babb Myrtle Creek, OR Birch

51 Bob Harriet McMinnville, OR Poncho

52 Dave Imas Olympia, WA Cap

53 Amy Coapman Montague, CA Jean

District 1 Regional Running Order for Friday

1 Karen Child Culver, OR Rock


2 Laura Vishoot Cottage Grove, OR Ripley

3 Lora Withnell Salem, OR Nell

4 Ian Caldicott Scio, OR Bear

5 Diane Pagel Carnation, WA Roo

6 Francis Chai Bend, OR Chime

7 Liz Hubbard Bonanza, OR Beatrice

8 Cheryl Munson Orting, WA Jett

9 Haley Howard Alturas, CA Bodie

10 Bob Hickman Yelm, WA CBK Mojo

11 Noelle Williams Dear Park, WA JumpinW Lad

12 Geri Byrne Tulelake, CA Jim

13 Ron Green Nine Miles Falls, WA Del ‘Mar Kane

14 Bob Dias Ramona, CA McCloud

15 Maggi McClure Vashon, WA Lil

16 Norman Close Coeur d' Alene,ID Jake

17 Susan Lindstedt Homedale, ID Vangie

18 Michele Howard Alturas, CA Jill

19 Lynn Johnston Camas, WA Jesse

20 Vickie Close Coeur d' Alene,ID Gail

21 Brian Ricards Bellevue, WA Mig

22 Sandra Milberg Santa Rosa, CA Quill

23 Lana Rowley Malin, OR Kell

24 Sandy Babb Myrtle Creek, OR Birch

25 Bob Harriet McMinnville, OR Poncho

26 Dave Imas Olympia, WA Cap

27 Amy Coapman Montague, CA Jean

28 Lora Withnell Salem, OR Sally

29 Ron Green Nine Miles Falls, WA Tigr

30 Francis Chai Bend, OR Loon

31 Lana Rowley Malin, OR Nellie

32 Geri Byrne Tulelake, CA Dan

33 Laura Vishoot Cottage Grove, OR Brynn

34 Maggi McClure Vashon, WA Kep

35 Karen Child Culver, OR Jim

36 Lynn Johnston Camas, WA Anna

37 Cheryl Munson Orting, WA Flint

38 Sue MacDonald Longbranch, WA Jan

39 Rochelle Stanford Ramona, CA Koko

40 Noelle Williams Dear Park, WA Nap

41 Sandy Babb Myrtle Creek, OR Cap

42 Vickie Close Coeur d' Alene,ID Hanna

43 Bob Dias Ramona, CA Rock

44 Ian Caldicott Scio, OR Joe Kidd

45 Norman Close Coeur d' Alene,ID Gwen

46 Bob Hickman Yelm, WA Trooper

47 Ray Coapman Montague, CA Jill

48 Haley Howard Alturas, CA Ross

49 Karen Child Culver, OR Hickory

50 Bill Orr Eagle Point, OR Boone

51 Brian Ricards Bellevue, WA Doc

52 Diane Pagel Carnation, WA Nan

53 Heidi Hanson Graham, WA Pete

Monday, October 11, 2010

Four of Five

I just returned from a Kathy Kn*x clinic.....Fabulous, Fun and very Fascinating!  Last fall, Nell was bred to Kathy's Jake and four of the pups were at this clinic having a spin on the sheep.  It just made my heart sing!!!!

Dodger...aka Jake Jr


Gyp....aka Gypsy...aka Gypster...aka Mine!



Tweed...aka Peanut


And Jill...aka Amazon Amy...


The only pup we did not get to see was Grace....because she belongs to Kathy and lives in Missouri! 

It was so fun to see all these pups, what they bring to the sheep naturally.  They have some similar qualities and yet are very different.  Nell has stamped her pups with her fingerprint regarding physical looks.  I think all the pups looked fabulous...keen....and ready to go!  Thank you, Kathy, for the gift of Jake pups!

Seize the Day!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Getting Ready

Today was all about getting ready and crossing items off the to-do list.  First off...finally, Jake had his senior pictures taken..... 


Tony James...our photographer...is great...and very understanding.  Last week, Jake had to postpone his picture taking session because, I, his mother, did not want a big goose egg on his forehead to make the family history book in a forever photo!  Tony is also a sports fan and got some great off beat sort of shots in addition to the more traditional takes.  One step closer to graduation!

Then it was on to the Regional Field....getting ready for the trial that is......just one short week away....Dayton, Oregon will be the host to the District 1 Regional Sheepdog Championship.

This shot is from the set out back to the post...which you have to look real close for.....it is a tall orange traffic stick.


Evergreen has been more than kind to allow us to use this grass field.  The Evergreen Air Museum overlooks the top end and will hopefully lure folks over to watch.


This weekend, Bob and Alistair will be busy building pens and securing the grazing for the 300 head of sheep that will be delivered on Thursday. The count down begins!

Me, I'm off to a Kathy Kn*x clinic.....one I have been looking forward to for a very long time.  Four of Nell's pups will be having some sheep time at this clinic...and it will be fun to see them all and also hear Kathy's input.  It has been too long since I have worked with Kathy...over 5 months ago!
Seize the Day!!!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Black and White

I delivered the puppies to Idaho yesterday...stopping at a friend's place in Walla Walla to stay the night.  Up early to get to my destination to work dogs before I began the long trek home. I do believe the puppies were as glad to get out of the car as I was....once we finally arrived.....


Smart little critters....full of adventure and creative naughtiness.....probably why puppies were made so cute.....so as we raise them the naughtiness doesn't seem so bad!


After a small relaxation break......I was asked if I wanted to work dogs!  "Really???" Or perhaps it was a rhetorical question.....a  nice way of say..."breaks over, get your running shoes on, sista!"

The field was very good sized and flat......the sheep were katahdin lambs.....and I worked all the girls who came along!  I started with Bella, because she is the dog that seems to have an "open window for learning" at this time.  Since my little hick-up at Sheep thrillz way back in July....I have been working on taking some tension out of Bella.  That requires some analyzing on my part...where exactly is the tension coming from....how is she responding to correction.....and does she ever become supple and tension free - in respect to distance from me, type of sheep, people setting, people and dogs setting.  As I take Bella new places and set up my work sessions.....it is always great to have a second set of eyes to evaluate my evaluation!  I have been to a few big fields in the past month....and interestingly enough.....most of the tension was leaving Bella...but her taking of my correction was not exactly presented in the fashion I was looking for......and my wishy-washiness of letting some behaviors go without addressing them......Bella is ready for some very Black and White direction from me.  That is what I was thinking...good to know I am on the right path.....now to get it and know when to give it back.  Sometimes I wish training sheepdogs was more Black and White for me!  Oh but then the journey would possibly be very boring so instead I continue on the path of Zen Sheepdog Training....ala Patrick Shann*han and Kathy Kn*x! 

I have been joking on Facebook about my new fitness regime....it is called "running up the field".  Jack Kn*x helped me sort Nell out a bit....and she is working so much better for me...but I have been feeling like it was time to give her back some of herself....and I find myself with a dog that has taken back too much!  I am not worried....well, maybe slightly as I run up fields and wonder if this might kill me!  "That which does not kill you...makes you stronger" certainly but I confess I might be struggling with weakness at the moment.  Down at The Border Collie Training Center.....the field running ended on a strong note.  Yesterday in Idaho....I ran again.  I ran for Bella, and I ran for Nell........this time the field added a few hurdles in the form of shallow ditches running through the field....and small jumps fashioned by river rocks!  In an effort to not have to run, I changed my tactic and brought out my pup...Gyp.  Instead of running, I was forced to walk backwards....which I do believe elicited some rather grumpy unlady-like words from my mouth....to the shock of he who was forcing this upon me!  At least walking backwards...I could strategize and work parallel to the hurdles.......leaving the smaller rock jumps to trip me up as my puppy giggled her way through torturing me!

Believe it or not.....these journeys of tearing up the miles are just the beginning to my wild and crazy October.  I could lay out my schedule but it would only put into words that could be proof positive that I need counseling and a herders anonymous program.  So I will just blog it as the month unfolds......

Seize the Day!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Kind of Weekend....part II

Sunday morning, I woke up early and headed across the mountain pass to Bonanza, Oregon for a sheepdog trial.  Very convenient to have a sheepdog trial the exact same weekend as the wedding.  This fact made pulling out of Vashon a little easier pill to swallow.  The weather was perfect dog/sheep weather...cool cloud coverage with a slight breeze.  The sheep seemed to be border leicester crosses of some sort.....indeed they looked much like my coopworths!


Jeannie Helsley always makes me smile......doing her happy dance across the field!


The course was pretty big.....with terrain.  I think the outrun was somewhere around 550 yards.  The trial actually started on Saturday so all the dogs were having their second go.    



I was told a few "secrets" before sending my dog. A left outrun, the dogs could loose sight of the sheep.....the sheep were pulling hard to the left on the fetch and first leg of the drive. I decided to send Sally left......and much to my total shock and amazement....she ran out huge and deep!  I kept thinking "whose dog is this exactly!?"  I was not on my A game.....and on her lift...I was having a hard time determining whose dog belonged to me.....there were two set out dogs and all the dogs appeared to be taking my away whistle...but only because the set out dogs were being called off.  I thought Sally's run was a good one for the two of us.  She worked hard....never stopped coming on herself....and took all my whistles.  I flubbed the lift...which created a bit of issue on the fetch...and the outcome was seen at the pen.  But all in all...I like where Sally and I are headed!

Nell....oh my dear....Nell.  She has not done outruns where she looses sight of her sheep....and my lack of detailed observance and not being there the day before.....created my poor timing of not helping her get out when I should have.  I really rattled her on the outrun......and by then....Nell was not thinking, listening or doing much of anything clever.  I had to leave the post and go up the field to get a stop!  I called her off and that was that.  Back to the drawing board........things to look at....STOP (broken record) and having her let me help her on her outrun.  In other words...I need some bend outs and pull ins.

That night Marylin and I headed over to the Border Collie Training Center and worked dogs.  I worked Nell in a small field reminding her what a 'lie down' whistle sounded like and just exactly what it should look like!  Gyp took a spin in the same field on a group of 12 sheep.  And Bella worked with Marylin standing in amongst the sheep and moving around.  I....well, I had sooo much fun working dogs and having discussion with Marylin and Geri! 

Monday morning turned into a 'girl party'!  Marylin, Geri and I headed out to a big field to start playing tag.  Nell was my first dog...and I thought she would have a nice lie down after our chat the night before.  Needless to say....I am sore today.  Sore from running up the field when Nell would not take the first lie down....and all corrections were dust blowing past her shut ears!  She did not get the sheep any times she did not take the lie down....and finally I shortened the whole thing to 250 and got a great stop and nice lift.  I put Nell away, or rather tied her to the 4 wheeler.

Bella worked on outruns and lifting off people and dogs.  She was splendid for Bella...in times of chaos with the trailer, dogs and people, we only had a small stall once.  We are getting better, Bella and I.  Geri asked if I had one big outrun left in me....I grabbed Nell and sent her about 400 yards and almost fell over with the need of oxygen when Nell took my stop whistle and actually had a thoughtful lift!  Maybe tying her up and having her watch Bella's stop session left an impression on my little Nell. 

The rest of the 'girl party' showed up with Lana, Angie, and Sandra all coming out to have sheep work.  Here Lana and Angie play tag....

It certainly was my kind of weekend.  Filled to the brim with good friends.....dog work....and fabulous conversations that included the sharing of ideas and observances from both the runs and the training.  October is turning into the most amazing month for my dogs!  I'll keep posting along the way.....

Seize the Day!

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Kind of Weekend!

I just got home from one FABULOUS weekend!  A weekend that had me pulling out of Vashon......a sheepdog trial I signed up for out of weakness and old age, forgetting my good friend's wedding that very same weekend.  Being one to make a fun vacation out of my change of plans...or sticking to my original plan of attending the wedding.....I hit the road for Jacksonville!  Seize the weekend!

A sheepdoggin friend of mine agreed to loan me a bed and a pillow!  Little did I know...I was headed to a beautiful Italian Vineyard!  Better than the best Bed and Breakfast!  Gosh I love my friends!!!

I was told to go explore...take the dogs for a walk in the vineyard.....it was amazing...beautiful...beyond words!  The grapes are a few weeks from being harvested so I had to keep an eagle eye on the dogs, who wanted to try a sample of the snacks just hanging their for the taking.


 I could so move in...well, maybe not when the temps hit the summer highs...but wow! what a visit!

After a long walk.....I headed out to the wedding....driving through memory lane.... Jacksonville.  My grandmother used to take all us granddaughters to Jacksonville every summer to visit the museum and embrace our heritage.  Our great, great, great grandpa Vincent was one of the pioneers to come across the Oregon trail into California and coming up into Oregon to settle in the Rogue Valley. Saturday, I was one of the "dreaded" tourist who had to stop and take pictures of this....

deer grazing smack dab in the middle of town!  This was one of two fawns and a doe who could have cared less that I was taking their pictures!  Not sure the town folks like them...but I thought they were very cool!

The wedding was beautiful....an amazing couple that I am glad to call friends!  It was a great first day to a three day weekend......

Seize the Day!