Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Involve Me

Tell me: I forget
Show me: I remember
Involve me: I understand
Isn't that the truth...on so many different levels.  It sure sums me up, especially if I am driving somewhere new.  If I just follow along listening to my Australian girl Garmin chat along about when and where to turn, I don't think I could ever find the place again.  If I follow behind somebody, I might pay a little closer attention to the details along the way, yet still not get back to where I once belonged.  But if I am driving along, looking for landmarks and really paying attention following instructions said to me, written down by me.....it seems to stick with me.
That has brought me back to looking at my dogs and what we are doing.  Try and tell Bella something....it can get dicey.  I'm too old and out of shape to "show" her, so I must involve her.  We gathered a big mob of lambs to take to water and "telling" fell on deaf, know-it-all ears.  When she ended up way over her head....and got corrected for lacking thought or care.....Bella was ever so much more a partner: involved. 
At LaCamas I ran into a fellow blogger, follower, reader friend and she explained where she comes from, with regards to working dogs,  it is dry, arid, maybe even a bit "lonely" due to lack of fellowship.  Lack of fellowship more because of lack of numbers of sheepdog enthusiasts living there and not numbers lacking enthusiasm, or interest from those who do.  We dreamed of creating our own MECCA.....

As I look around me, from a more global view, I see little pockets of folks who have become like family.  The group from Idaho comes to mind: hauling sheep out to work in big fenceless places, groups of folks willing to share ideas and thoughts, and just as important, willing to listen as those ideas are sorted, chewed, digested: involvement.  Seems many of those sheepdog Meccas are built around folks who have been working at this for some time now.  That, and are willing to share.

Creating a Mecca...that has gotten me to thinking (in moderation mind you).  I fall victim to, "if only" on occasion when it comes to trialing, training, and working dogs.  If only I lived closer to a place where I could haul out; if only I could live closer to a ___________(insert top trainer's name); if only____the list could go on.  If only feels a bit like a really cheap excuse!  Funny because I have been reading the Impossible Blog and received this little morsel:
The next time you’re tempted to give up because you came up with a really good excuse. Ask yourself:

  1. Would I believe this excuse if anyone else besides myself was saying it? (You wouldn’t).
  2. Does this excuse even make any sense? (It doesn’t).
  3. Am I really going to let this excuse stop me? (You shouldn’t).

Then keep going and don’t quit.

Your excuses are invalid

As I have thought about my short yet powerful passing conversation with my blogger friend, I wonder...how many people feel Mecca-less? Or maybe more uninvolved and "league-less"?  You know, that league of people you surround yourself with, believing in you even when you can't find it to believe in yourself.  That sort of hit me...a Mecca is a place where people want to go....maybe even a place that is bigger than life: sort of like Disneyland being the "happiest place on earth".  And a league is right here.....finding the possibility in the miracles of here...together, involving those who are looking for their league. There are days when I dig a little deeper to find those miracles and celebrate them, as they are enough.  Today is a day to be thankful for those who make up my league and stop with the "if only's".  It is a day to dive into being involved.....Building a Mecca....Creating a League.....life is too short to do less!

Seize the Day!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012


I just got home from LaCamas Valley Sheepdog Trial.....four days of the "best of times" and " the hottest I think I have ever been in my entire life" of times.  My fours days of trialing..yes four because Miss Nell gave me the honor of running on Sunday, but more of that later.....will provide me with enough fodder for blogging and overthinking to last me well into next week.


Dictionary.com really let me down as I searched for a tangible definition of the word relationship.
the mutual dealings, connections, or feelings that exist between two parties
it is most certainly a start....

Nell came in 11th out of 90 dogs in the second go.....here is a brief look at the beginning of her run.
We'll pick this after her lift.......which she did with only a walk up for input. 

Me: thinking...hmm lets see if we can make this tidy "way"

Nell: "NO"

Me:  darn it you little quick footed flea bag "way"

Nell: "you asked for it....." give a tiny away to me and......let's go of the pressure causing the sheep to dart hard to the right....

Me: "come bye, come bye"...oh dear, I am so sorry for blowing that wrong flanks.  Please forgive me...darn it anyway. 

Nell:  "told you so!" in small letters because I believe she felt bad for my lack......

That only cost us time and three points.....she got them right back on line and well, she has become quite forgiving of me. She is also holding me accountable for my end of this "relationship".  If I were my own dog, I would be giving myself a good schooling right about now.  I think Buck Brannaman called it being particular.  I best be getting particular with my own program! I am learing to trust Nell....she is often right. 

Next dog.  So Bella came in 15th on her second time on the open field at LaCamas. The first time, being the day before, which ended in a handy little grip of a take down when we were attempting to get things settled for a shed.  This time we will pick this up as she comes to the top......after we had a little mind meld of me telling her "Bella you have to lie down at the top today" and she agreed whole-heartedly as she sort of looked like she might be ignoring me and spotting sheep on the runs prior. 

As Bella rounds the top....

Me:  "lie down"

Bella: hitch..."I got this!"

Me:  "Lie Down"

Bella: hitch..."I Got This!"


Bella:  hitch "I GOT THIS"


Bella:  I am about 300 yards now from the gal who wants to run the show....about the distance where she has been known to hoof it up the field.....hmmmmm "sit down, back up on the feet hitched"

To be very honest here, I would love to run Bella with just steadies.  But at this point....if I give a steady...she takes a mile.  It's funny, I watched a top hand walk sheep around the course with two of his dogs at LaCamas. Oh and quietly without hardly a stop to be heard or seen.   I told him how much that spoke to me and that was my goal.  There were glimmers of walking sheep with Bella's second run....but she most definitely tried to run with her bit clenched between her teeth.  However, she did hold the line...pretty darn straight, hitting the fetch panels...and allowing me to get ahold of her and settle the sheep before doing so.  I really do not want to run sheep.....I'd like to have the run that comes from treating the sheep right from the first introduction.

These two dogs are so different in personality, work styles, biddability....Nell being not quite a year older than Bella, I always wonder about time and miles. I also ponder lambs and what they do to dogs.  And handlers and what their stops look like.  Really.  What their stops really look like.  And me, I know what I want my relationship to mean for each of my dogs.......I know they will be different in unique and wonderful ways.  The how's on getting there.....working without taking away.....getting without making.......the give and take of it all...can't be defined in a dictionary.....that I do know. And so now I look in the mirror....making a list of work for myself.  And wondering....what does one wear to a double lift?? 

Seize the Day!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Word To Our Sponsors

I believe that in most people's lives....as they follow their dreams....there are days of darkness.  Days filled with self...analyzing, searching, challenging, struggling, doubting.  A part of every journey.....and then, the sweetness of believing, being lifted up by friends who don't mind the dark days and help push through to the small, daily victories.  Those friends are priceless to me...and they gathered together and sponsored my Bella and Nell for the finals!  In addition, I got a few notes:

"We believe in you and Nellie"

" A team is something you belong to, something you feel, something you have to earn"  You and Nell are a great team!"

Thank you for all the love, support and belief.....it keeps me going on those dark days of self question.  Dawn, Adele, Denise, Marilyn......you lift me up!

I stumbled upon a blog today.....The Blog of Impossible Things  Today's post spoke to me....

"Nothing is withheld from us which we have conceived to do.
Meaning: if you’ve conceived something in your mind, decide to do it, and are willing to put in the work – nothing can stop you."

"And I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference......"

Seize the Day!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Nell's IN!!!

Nell is sitting at 120......2012 USBCHA National Finals.....here we come!  I can't think of a better place than Klamath Falls to run in our very first finals.  Three years ago.....as a two and a half year old, Miss Nell went out to gather sheep so the set-out folks could practice at the 2009 USBCHA finals on the night before the big dance opener.....and the whole handler community watched.... as my Nell crossed and ran the sheep and gripped at the shed....and well, I needed counseling.  The next day, as I sat at the gate at the hour where the early birds wanted to sneak in, I met Bruce Fogt for the first time......he introduced himself as the person who had watched me run my dog the day before.  My Nell, who has taught me so very much, mostly about myself....together we get to experience the finals for real!

With a month and a half ahead of me.....days on the calendar blank and ready for some sort of plan.....I've begun to look to those who have blazed ahead to the details of what to do to "get ready". With only one trial between here and there..... I know my 'old' nature would be to over practice, drill, and then practice some more.  Instead I will keep to a good fitness plan and do the things I know I need to do.......some of which is homework just for me, while other of the tasks will be about Nell and me.

That said, I've been thinking a lot about training vs. handling.  Funny how those feel like two lakes tied together with a good sized river.  This year, my second year in open with Nell, and first with Bella, has been mostly about learning how to handle each dog and train to support that handling. 

Possibly the difference in how I train and handle came from how I started out, those who most influenced my early training days weren't close for post-trialing discussion.  As I began looking for handling help, I've sat at trials watching runs, watched video trial runs, and began working with a mentor whom I felt their handling style was the direction I was leaning.  Since then, I have played a bit with who I am as a handler.....for the first time running dogs that allow me to experiment and live with the consequences of that. The truth lies somewhere between the two lakes of training and trialing, leaning more towards sifting myself, pushing myself out of comfort to find the answers in myself.  Of course a good mentor is priceless! My training leans more towards one theory. But when I step to the post, I swim towards "tools"  taken from the theory of the handling I long to achieve.  I like a dog that can work with little input but also want a dog that will take input when given.  And so, I watch and watch, and learn, and experiment, and ask questions, and apply, and live with the consequences...and at the end of the day working towards understanding and developing that very special relationship of "partners". 

My trialing summer has been filled with finewools and mixed flocks.  Mixed flocks in the fact the sheep were older and not of the same gene pool....racism has not been killed in the world of sheep for sure!  The days have been filled with great learning; about the sheep, about my dogs, about me.  Then I come home and get firmly grounded with my own flock, small as it is, and a Sheep Boss and Shepherd that enjoy the pleasures of watching me get my hinny handed to me allowing me to learn while they get dog work and I'm filled with incredible joy.  Sending my young dog out into a field of 600, the same young dog that has crossed a few times at nursery trials much to the worry of a few but not me, and watching 50 sheep try to roll over the top of her as she came in not looking for all the sheep.  The understanding that began to dawn......a small correction giving the bend and also seeing the beginning of her looking for sheep instead of just running out.....those are the days words minimize. 

As I think on it, that is how I differ on training vs. trialing.  Sorting Miss "it does not matter which way I go as long as I bring the sheep" Gyp will happen in a few different way.  First is addressing her not really looking for the sheep, or thinking as she runs out.  I am hoping the big flock gathers allows the sheep to teach her to look and think.  I'll add in some "stop and bend out" training as we go along so I have that tool if I need it. I will also try to develop her natural, so she has that if I am not there to help her. And then once she has understanding in both training and instinct, I won't bat an eye to utilize this handling tool at a trial.That is my plan...and while some would put the stop and bend out on first, never letting the dog be wrong.....others would let the sheep teach the dog.....I want both!  We'll see how that works for me.....while Bella is an onion...Gyp has become a guinea pig.

LaCamas is just a week and a half away....better get back to over thinking, working and dreaming.....

Seize the Day!