My dogs did some excellent work. I mainly used Molly for this task. I keep trying to find something she is good at. There are days she dazzles me with brilliance and other days, not so much. I'm trying not to use Z too much for this job. It seems to effect his performance right now. He seems to get a bit lazy and complacent, thinks once the sheep are held to me, he can just sit down and take a rest. This means his shed is getting a tad sloppy and slow. Also the setting tends to make him slice on both sides, I think this is just from the repetitive nature of the job. What I love though is he gets a some chances to move sheep off the feed pan and either fetching them to me OR walking up and driving them off down the field away. I also can set up that he has to go up through the gate and find his way a bit to bring sheep down to me. We do set up some thinking games, but once he starts to get tired it is all out the window.
Back to Molly though. She did work she was totally capable of. She stayed with it and together for the whole time. I had to get after her a few times, but she settled down and went back to her job. She has a never say die attitude that I am used to with bitches. Molly pretty much set the last set of sheep with the same enthusiasm and gusto she set the first group with, this was five hours of work from start to finish. Hopefully she will be reliable enough to use for at trials soon. I'm not certain she is sea worthy just yet. I also plan to take on some AHBA trials with her again this Fall.
Next in my effort to prepare for the coming trial in South Dakota I am focusing on Z fitness level. I am still training on him. I know he needs to work on his finesse, a fair a mount. He's still pretty young, so I don't want to train on him too hard right now. He will be 2.5 years old just before this trial in South Dakota and I have to keep reminding myself he's just a pup. I'm still so please with his efforts in the Open and Nursery class at Whidbey Island in June. Gosh, he and I have been together barely a year now, what a trip it has been!
As far as the fitness plan he's been running next to my bike or going on jogs with Tanya 5 days a week with one day of sheep work. How I wish I had time these days for 2 or 3 days of sheep work. Two days a week 3 miles on the bike to Sandel Park. Two days jogging 3.5 mile with Tanya on the nice running path down to Puget Sound and back. It is a sand running path with good hills. One day of intervals on the Interurban bike trail. I have a .5 mile section where he can run off leash on the grass. So we ride . 5 mi from the house to the trail on the road. Once on the trail we do .25 mi sprint<17 mph> then .25 mi fast trot <8-9 mph>. We do 3 set of this with a brief rest between sets. Then we do one set of .5 mi sprint and .5 mi fast trot, rest and then do the .5 mi cool down on the ride home. Then one day a week we do a long run. This week we did nearly 7 miles in 55 min. I just kept him at a comfortable pace for him which seems to be 6.8-7 mph. I was able to run him a majority of the time on the grass shoulder.
For our sprint and long runs we are using a product call K9 Energy Edge. This product was developed by a vet for her working dogs, you can read more about it here http://www.k9energyedge.com/inform.html. I use this mainly in the summer on when I work the dogs on sheep or when we do any kind of hard physical work. It is a carbohydrate and protein mixture that doesn't cause the insulin to spike, but provides a sustained energy release. I find it is most awesome as a recovery drink. The dogs bounce back quickly to pre-performance levels over night after using this immediate after the hard work. Used during the hard work it keeps them going stronger longer.
We also ordered some Ruff Wear dog boots http://www.ruffwear.com/. On top of that I have been painting Z's pads in the effort to tough them up with http://www.tuffoot.com/. The Tuf Foot has been amazing in it's ablity to help heal the pad burns and blisters. It has kept his back feet in great shape, so I only have to boot the front ones for now. It may be asking too much to go boot free in the front considering all the pavement around here. We only boot up for the long runs and the interval training. I find with the boots on I worry less about glass and other foreign objects on the road shoulder.
These are the Ruff Wear shoes brand new out of the box.
Not mark a on the pretty soles!
So far I'm happy with them. He needs socks for the long runs, they rub his heals a bit. He's nearly blown the toe out of his left shoe, but a little bit of duct tape seems to cure the issue. Essentially they are keeping his pads in perfect shape and his sound after having to cover long fast distances on some rough surfaces. They are wearing out a little faster than anticipated. I think is is due to the fact they are a hair small front to back just on the one foot. Over all they are great, it is just the toe wear on the one shoe. Next time I will order the next size up and see if that works. I may if I put socks on all the time. I know, the pain I go through to keep him fit in the city. I wish for open spaces and a four wheeler.