A Border Collie's Mistress' Place for News and Musings

Travels, Trials and Tribulations

Saturday, December 3, 2011

WTF Friday- for Merkx

What handler do you strive to be like, or handlers if you have Schizophrenia?

Scott Glen is my Obi Wan Kenobi I try to train my dogs using his sage words.  I will often ask my self WWKCD?  What would Karen Child do?  Since I have worked with her a lot, there has to have been a chance that we covered this problem or one similar to it at some point in our journey. With that conclusion I am sure she has given me a exercise or sage words for this situation already and I just need to remember them.

I think that I handle like me.  I feel like I have been doing this long enough to have my own style.  I have been strongly influenced by my mentors, but I have taken what works for me from each one of them and made my way with it.

I will say though I learn best by watching so I take any opportunity to watch folks that are better than I am.  I watch their body language, timing, and style, if they do something I like and it works for me I will use it and make it may own.  I will also watch folks I know make the same mistakes I do and I helps me see the dynamic of what I am doing better so I can go change it.

How do you change your handling style depending on what dogs you trial?

Z has been a huge challenge for me to change my handling style for.  Previous dogs, have been VERY forward dogs that lacked a bit of feel.  I spent a lot of time trying to keep them out of the "red zone" ;)  They tended to be flank slicers and cut in out out runs and dogs that could do with some grinding on.  Z is completely different and there are days that he frustrates the heck out of me.  Sometimes it takes me a few minutes of cooling of the remind myself it is easier to change me than it is to change him.  He's very effective at what he does if I handle him the way he needs to be handles :)

How do you change your handling depending on what trial you are running at?

I don't change my handling from trial to trial.  At least I don't think so.  I DO GO TO THE POST WITH A STRATEGY.  I have a plan epsecially if I can watch a few good runs before my turn.  I figure if I handle my dog and it keeps him happy, he will keep the sheep happy.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tell Me Thursday- yeah!

1. What is your favorite Little Debbie snack? If you hate Little Debbie then I bow down to your greatness. (I suppose you can include some other favorite snack. Maybe it'll inspire me to get over LD for today.)

Oh wow, so hard to pick just one.  Nutty bar are right up there, as I am a sucker for the peanut butter and chocolate combo  in its many forms.  I have a sentimental attachment to Oatmeal Cream Pies(Froze), I used to share them with one of my childhood horses. 

2. What do you use for laundry detergent?

Tide, ususally I'm allergic to some of the other.

3. Tighty Whities or Boxers? (this, obviously, is open for interpretation)

Yes to both, depending on the activity at hand.

4. Dogs: On the bed? In the house? On the furniture? Never? What are your rules?

On the bed- sometimes, I only have 2 that care to sleep on the bed.  They get the privilege of bed when I sleep alone in hotel room or taking a nap ( like that happens very often).  Otherwise all dogs sleep in crates in a dog room, I'm a super light sleeper and we humans have allergies to the dogs.  On the furniture by invitation only.

5. Favorite dog-related website (aside from my blog, obviously har har har)? Favorite NON-dog related website? Can be blogs, or whatever.

Dog site _ http://rockingdawgs.blogspot.com/

Non dog site right now -http://www.wendysparrots.com/html/about_us.html

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tell Me Thursday #12- a few days late

1. If you won the lottery (a big one... I'm talking stupid muchos cash) what would you do with the money?

I would give my folks a wad of cash so they could be more comfortable and my Mom could just quit her job. I would give a bunch of money to my friends so they could sheep dog trial with me more.  I would pay off the house and then buy a new spread in MT or the State of Jefferson.  I'm talking silly huge like 3000 acres and raise sheep .  I would spend at least two years on the road going to a lot of dog trials in the US and Canada.  I would like to take the dogs and some friends to Europe for a season.  I would set up a foundation to teach inner city kids about agriculture through hands on experiences.   I would also set up scholarships for disadvantaged/at risk young girls and women. I might also consider setting up an alternative/charter school that shies away from traditional teach methods for more advanced methods.
I would also consider buying the small business I work for already.  It serves a pretty important function in the local exotic parrot community.

2. After winning the lottery would you work a day job? If so, what would you do? 

I would become a sheep rancher, eventually.  But um no, seriously I would spend time training my dogs and birds. If  I  bought the store I'd probably go in, but I wouldn't be a total slave to it.

3. Do you have any auxiliary dogs? Auxiliary dogs are dogs that are not essential to your main purpose (usually tiny, but not always). If you don't have an auxiliary dog what might you choose?

Nope, not really.  I have parrots, they are the "pets".  I have dogs that are retired or semi retired from sheep herding.  One will be 14 she feels very auxiliary some days. I might pick a French Bulldog, they are really cute.  Really, I think if  I could choose I would just get another parrot instead of an auxiliary dog.

4. Do you have a favorite crock pot recipe (or other recipe) you can share?

Winter Squash Soup

2 good sized Butternut squashes
Olive oil
Sprinkle of brown sugar
1 qrt veggie stock
1.5-2 Tlbsp of coconut butter
Red Thai curry paste to tase
Lemon grass and Thai basil as garnish

Hack up squashes, leave peal on, remove seeds
Place in roasting pan 
Lightly grizzle in oil, sprinkle gently with brown sugar
Place in oven on 350 roast until fork tender
Once done remove flesh from peel and place in blender
Add enough veggie broth to achieve the desired consistency
While all of this is whirring around in the blend add curry past and coconut butter
Should still be hot enough to serve right from the blender

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tell Me Thursday

Ok so I am day late.  This is actually my third one and I am really having fun with these. The other ones I have posted as "notes" on my FB account.

1. If you're not at the 2011 Sheepdog finals this weekend what are you planning to do?

  I have been home and "watching" by the magic of Facebook feed.
2. One item you NEVER walk onto the trial field (any trial field, or training class will suffice) without?
Clean underwear.  You never know, you know?
3. Katy wants to know if you have a pre-run ritual that you observe?
I try very hard to spend the 2 runs a head of me alone in quiet place with my dog.  I like to be able to watch what's going happening on the field, but not hear the spectators.  I always clean my whistle while waiting.
4. How old were you when you had your first real kiss?
 Like 15 maybe.  Gosh, so memorable, hardly.
5. Bonnie wants to know what you do for yard mud control during the winter?
I just pulled up my whole side yard and laid textured concrete pavers.  My dream is to only have enough grass for the dogs to pee. I try to hose off dogs after working and I try to wipe paws.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

All About Hank- I'm divulging his deepest darkest secret here

So far in Hank's short time with us he has been the subject of one measly blog.  Probably and after mention in one or two more.  What can I say, he's not really doing anything note worthy, yet.  Thought I would write a bit about what he's been up too.

In May Hank turned 7 months old.  At this point I he has been to puppy kindergarden with Tanya.  He has also been hauled for a few hundred miles around in the van to work and back, to trials and back, oh and his favorite, the park and back.  There's not much the makes this guy give a second look, he hasn't met a person he doesn't like or a dog he wont try to play with.  Pretty much unflappable as far as noises and weird looking things go.  What can I say, we live in the city and we deal with weird  things all the time, especially on trash day.

Hank loves sheep, he's been keen since I brought him home a 12 weeks old.  It has been tough work to keep him out of trouble.  Although once he was too big to squeeze through the fence it got easier.
Basically I have put him on sheep once or twice every couple of weeks.  Right around 6 months, he started to want to go around the sheep.  Prior to that he just wanted to run through the middle and I had nothing to do with the picture.  Hank also began to bring me sheep and  he began to notice me in the field with him and the sheep.  It annoyed him at first and finally he accepted me as part of the equation.

Yesterday, he had a great working session.  He is changing directions easily and I am keeping him from circling all the way around now.  He is starting to give thought to balance.  Although he blows right by it 70% of the time, he looks in a hitches up at the correct point, still a lot of temptation to go to head :)  If I can get him settled down some behind the sheep he paces himself down, respecting the sheep's bubble.  Hank also begins to flank a bit more squarely.  He will also stop with the sheep between us.  So we have been doing walk abouts making sheep sandwiches in a fairly good sized field.  He will pull the sheep off the fence by going between the sheep and the fence in both directions.  The sheep that we are using are not knee knockers, they are pretty light and mostly sensible.  

He is still pretty toothy, especially on the away side.  This is the flank he slices worst, so I have been trying to bend him out with out making too big of a deal out of it.  Otherwise if he causes a mess I let him fix it and I don't get on him if he uses his teeth from the shoulder forward.  He's getting better at grabbing faces on the break aways.  I can wind him up  and I can settle him back down pretty easily.  I think our bench mark for more structure training will be when he goes out and doesn't bust through the middle of the sheep when I first  let him go.  I set him and tell him wait while I walk to the sheep and he just fights the bend on the first little run and there's usually a bit of a mess for him to fix, after that he settles right in.  He is still in the let's have fun and keep it light stage.

I'm pretty happy with what I see so far.  Hank is sensible, but full of hell :)  I am starting to trust him a bit now to fix his messes without piling on the carnage.  He wants to listen and do right but at the same is very forward and doesn't care about if he makes a mistake.  He's taking correction well, he heeds me and then lets it go.  As far as working style, so far he's pretty plain, up right, and medium eyed. Right now I am stopping him on his feet, which he seems to be respecting very well. He seems to be favoring line and straitness to flanking and bend.  He comes from a line of strong out runners and squared flankers.  It will interesting to see how he progresses.   

Now for Hank's dark secret- He loves to lick bare feet.  Ick, right?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dry Lake SDT

Trying to do a brain dump so things might not be too organized.  I'm going to try to get it all out before I forget anything important.

Thanks to Geri Byrne for hosting, Derek Fischer, Amy Coapman and Gloria Atwater for stetting out

Course:  Sheep set about 600 yards out, out run was blind either way dog was sent.  Fence visible to the left, but no fence on the right.  Dog could spot sheep from the post on the hill, handler could see lift sort of and could see dog most of the way out.  Fetch was strait forward except the field was littered with badger holes.  Drive and cross drive were appropriate length to be challenging.  We ran 4 sheep so it was a split in the ring and then a pen.  Set out on the left about 100+ yards from drop site.  Exhaust on right over hill behind post about 100 yards

Sheep: from Don Gnoss- Coopworth crosses tough  but very fair, good to drive challenging on the out work.  Stood at the drop spot and held very well.  Thanks in part to a fabulous set out crew.  No hard draw to exhaust, tough draw back towards set out and left hand fence.

Day 1:  Many dogs struggled to find sheep, crossing over or running to big and wide.  Lots of sheep broke hard to the left and end up at the fence and way off course.  Sheep nice to drive, tough to shed, had to work for a pen, but very doable.  Sheep were fairly runny and light it a good way.  Very windy, hard cross breeze and some snow.

Sent Z on the come bye out run.  He ran out smart and did not go to the fence.  He went deep too and coasted in behind them at the perfect point.  Lift was strait and they tried to break left and he held them really well almost had them on line, but struggle.  We made the panel and the fetch and things lined out and straitened up.  Sweet post turn, he stayed in and on the shoulder.  Got them moving towards the first panel a bit off line, but made the panel.  Good turn off the panel to the cross drive line, they got a bit low but we scooted them back up to make the panel.  Had a sloppy line from second panel to shed ring.  The shed was tough as the sheep just wanted to ball up and stand still.  It was tough to line them out, I jumped the gun and tried to take the first small gap the happened for a missed attempt.  Worked the sheep a bit and got another gap and pulled Z through.  Moved on to the pen and the sheep boogied and almost ran past the pen, yikes.  We got them stopped and tucked in the pen without too much more fuss.
Probably the only dog with zero off the Out run and lift.  Had one handler say to me that Z ran out exactly the way you'd draw it on the piece of paper for the ideal out run. Love it.

Score 81 0-0-5-7-5-2, 3rd place of 50 dogs

Day 2: Sheep were pretty much the same, which was nice.  Weather pretty much the same, but colder.  Again many dogs struggled to find the sheep and the sheep were breaking even harder to the left and were getting tougher to put anywhere near the top bit of the fetch line.

Sent him on the come bye again, why mess with what worked?  Stunning out run again, good lift.  Really struggled to put them on line, not as nice as the day before.  This was the only indication I had that he might be a little tired.  Skimmed the fetch panel for a miss, but got them on line again.  Another good post turn and better set up for the drive away panel.  Better drive line and made the panel.  Better cross drive but skimmed the panel low.  Way for the handler to leave 8 points out there on a pretty sweet run.  Worked the line a little better to the shed ring.  Was much more patient in the ring and tried to work the puzzle out instead of taking the first opportunity that came along.  Much nicer shed in my opinion, even with a missed attempt again.  Then we walked them right into the pen. I had a better plan to get from the ring to the pen on day 2.

Score of 71 I don't know the exact break down I didn't see my score sheet this time, but this is what I would have scored it 0-1-11-12-5-0.

We ended up 15th of 50 dogs.

This was a great trial, I will be going again next year.  I'm really starting to feel like we are turning into a consistent team.  I feel like I can handle and trial my dog and make him look good and not focus on training during the run.   I met some great new people.  It is always really cool to have people you don't know walk up and say " wow nice run you just put down".

Really happy with the out run work our training is paying off.  He didn't run to the fence and he used his head all  the way out there.  Driving work is getting better, still more practice there.  I need to set up panels and work at driving through them and not to them.  Lately I have just been focusing on the line part, now to focus a bit on the panel part.  I need to work on shedding sheep that don't want to line out and I as the handler need to actually do most of the work.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Heppner OR, St. Patrick's Festival Sheep Dog Trial

Left Friday morning after working Z on sheep.  I had a lot on my mind, but wasn't very worried or anxious.  A few weeks before I had a lesson with Patrick Shannahan and he sent me home with a short list of home work, which I began immediately.    I began overhauling Z driving, so I hope that I hadn't changed so  much that it cause a serious communication break down between Z and I. I have been working also on the out run shape as he has been running too wide at the bottom, again. The weekend before we ran at Rocky Ewe and things went really well.  So well in fact we finished second in the Open class.  It was a nice car ride out to the trial, which is in the middle of nowhere.  Friday night was a cold night in the van, but very manageable.

On Saturday we were up fairly early in the running order, spot #6.  The sheep were moving more or less and being fairly reasonable sports bout the whole thing.  They were yearling Rambouillet crosses fresh off the range.

Set Z up and sent him left, had a nice shape out run at the bottom, didn't feel like he broke wide and he ran with purpose.  Looked like a snow cone, but was a bit flat at the top.  He busted through them and 2 went air born trying to make it back tot he set out.  He fixed his mess with out much help from me.  I had a hard time seeing the white sheep on the flat brown field @ 400 yards :)  He brought them down the line ok, listening really well. Typically on day 1 there's not much listening on the fetch line going on.  I was having a hard time finding the sweet spot on these sheep and kept letting Z get in their eye too much, so they'd turn or stop, grrrrr! No fetch panel for us, the sheep were taking TONS of pressure from the panels.  They would get real close and then squirt out the side.  It was like having a force field there, kind of weird! We made it around the post and off on the drive away, appalling line, but at least they were moving, just skimmed the panel wide.  Good turn and the cross drive line was ok, again I was just happy they were moving along in the general direction I wanted them to go.  Actually made the cross drive panel and a good turn!  Tried to work the line to the shedding ring best I could.  We got our shed on the first try and hustled to the pen, I knew we were running low on time.  I got the gate open and the sheep stalled in the mouth of the pen.  I knew I was putting too much pressure on them, but couldn't figure out what to do before time ran out.  In the end we posted a score, which at this trial was a miracle. Working these sheep was much like pushing rope.

Well, I had the whole rest of the day to sit around and devise a new plan for the next day.  I watched a lot of great handlers run their dogs and tried to take notes.  I also watched how much the sheep changed as the day went on.  I tried to take note of what they were like at about the time I'd be running the next.  The second half of the day the sheep got super heavy and a little bit fight came out in them.  Nothing too nasty, just flat out refusal to move, a little bit of foot waving and head lowering.  Lots of dogs/handlers RT because the sheep refused to move and stood the dog off.

Saturday night, had a lovely dinner with friends and got a room at  a B&B in Ione.

Sunday morning came quick.  I had several hours to work out my plan.  We drew up 28th about half way through the day and about 6 runs after they brought fresh sheep up to the set out.  The sheep were getting tough as the day wore on.  I decided to go with a similar plan as the day before, but with even greater emphasis on keeping things moving.  I was fortunate enough to watch 2 great handers run before while I was waiting on deck and paid close attention to how they were managing their sheep.

I stepped up and sent Z right today as they changed the set out location from the day before.  Still too wide at the bottom on this side, but MUCH better top end.  He dropped in way behind them and walked up giving us a nicer lift.  He had to squirrel around a little to convince them to come down the field to me and not run for the exhaust.  Got them on line and then they just flowed and I just kept egging him on  to move up and keep the pressure and movement up.  Nearly had them around the post and they started to bounce around, but we got the turn.  They began to stall and I egged him on and he jumped at them a few times and even poked them in the butts with his nose.  They began to move and it was a painfully long distance to the panel, but an ok line.  I knew we were going time out and was hoping to at least make it to the shedding ring.  They stalled out completely just in front of the panel and that is where we died.  They began to graze and Z tried to lift them.  There was one ewe that would turn on him just as he about got them lifted.  She finally broke rank and jumped at him.  Z tried again to move the group and she charged at him the second time and then I called the run and went to help him.  A big RT for us on day 2, at least we got them to our feet :)

It was a lovely ride home.  I was pretty happy with him over all for the whole weekend, Z just kept trying to do what I was asking.  I didn't feel like he let me down at all on the second day, he was way out of his scope of experience and over his head when the sheep act like that.  I had two great handlers that a really respect complement me for making the decision to retire my run.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hank Finally gets a Review

Hank is our new recruit.  He is mostly spending time being a puppy.  He is going to puppy kindergarten with Tanya, he is acing the class.  So far I really like this guy. Hank mostly does what his told, he just has a small naughty streak.  He is very mellow, quiet and thoughtful.  He also is very, very fearless.  Hank pays no mind to the consequences of heading and nose gripping the older dogs.  He is almost 5 months old now and I think they are about ready to start giving him the more frequent and appropriate smack downs.  This guy is also super keen to at the moment chase anything that moves.  He was trying to herd leaves blowing in the wind on our walk the other day.  I just really see a solid mind, a willing personality and a keenness for work.  What more could I want for the time being.  So far he has been on sheep twice and had a good time.  He just wanted to hold them in the corner and walk up on them until they exploded out the sides.  Then he would run to the head and put them back in the corner.  Not very productive, he's not ready to go around yet and bring them ;)  I will put him on again when he is closer to 6 or 6.5 months and see where he is at.  Though he wont get any serious training until the fall.  Until then he will continue to travel with  me and work on his social skills.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

El Pres.- Idaho

It was a longer drive than I remember, but in all well worth it.  Z, Hank and I left Seattle at 900am.  We picked up 2 empty dog crates at 512/I 5.  Then we bee lined it down to Fido's to do some quick sheep work.

At Fido's we practiced a few sheds and some driving.  Mostly shedding as I forget I have to tune this up on this young dog still.  I just made it fun.  Hank had a good romp around and we met Monique's puppy Rye for the first time.

Finally we made it all the way to Caldwell, ID meeting Jorgen at the La Quinta.  Morning came way too fast and we rolled out of the hotel and headed over the the trial field.  The trial was held over at Patrick Shannahan's farm.  The field is good sized, not too tricky and the sheep were nice to work.

We were in the # 10 spot.  There was some trouble setting our sheep out, they kept breaking back to the set out.  I set him up to got left, but as I watched the set break back and get to the set out 3 times, I changed my mind.  I sent him right and hoped for the best.  He totally didn't see them and broke really wide.  As he got there the sheep had tried to get to the set out again.  Our lift was a little rocky and he got a little cowboy up there.  Finally I got a hold of him and fixed out fetch line, making the panels.  Got them down to my feet and made a great post turn.  I have been working really hard to make tight turns and set the sheep up on the line for the drive away. Z was still full of beans as we had a bumpy go of the drive away, at least we made that panel too.  Our cross drive was lining out really nice and as we approached the panel we were a hair high so I tucked them in and made the panel too.  Yikes, now for the hard part.

Patrick, our judge devised this wonderful shed/pen combination  We had 5 sheep, had to shed three, let 2 go and pen the 3.  It had foiled every run so far that day.  I knew we had a good shot at getting this done, we play around like this all the time.  Took the back 3 on our first try and sadly the front 2 didn't leave to go to the exhaust.   I pulled Z around between the 2 groups and kept egging him on to work just the three while trying to keep him right between the 2 groups.  I made it to the pen gate and Z saved my bacon, he turned on the 2 on his own and put pressure on them keeping them away.  Then immediately flipped back to the 3 we had to stuff in the pen.  They nearly shot passed on his side and then I had to fight them back on my side.   Z had to really dig and work hard to not let them go either past the pen or back to the other group.  Made it into the pen and could finally breath.  I knew we had the high score after all that work.

We did rock it with an 83!  We tide Dianne Deal and Fame for 2nd.  We ended up in third, from watching Fame's run his out work was nicer.  Lavonne C with Gus took the class with an 89.

Day 2 at least I had better sleep.  I ran at the end of the class in like #25.  This doesn't work too well for me as 200pm I usually feel like napping.  Z was felling mellow as we walked to the post.  He knew where the sheep were and I sent him left.  He did the out run I know he is capable of.  The lift got hairy again and I just got after him.  I spit my whistle out and lit him up.  This is the first yelling streak I have had in ages.  I kind of surprised myself.  He got his head out of his butt and actually started to listen.  The sheep were pretty heavy by now and bent for going to the exhaust.  He had to work like heck not only to keep them moving but to hold the intense pressure.  I knew we were going to time out, I was just hoping to get a crack at the shed.  I could not convince him to walk them any faster.  Positive the yelling at him on the lift did not help his morale, I should have just shut up and ate the fetch points. Then I'd have enough push in my dog to finish the course.  Of course the less he wanted to push the more frustrated I got which made him push even less.  We made it to the shedding ring and the shedding gods were not with us.  The gap would not come and the timer went off.  A whopping 58 points for us.  From fame to shame in 24 hours ;)

I was not happy with my handling on day 2 at all.  Well better luck next time.  Hopefully we will get into Heppner!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rocky Ewe trial

We drew up 5th. The sheep were being pretty nice up until our turn.  Z and I had the rotten luck of drawing a rouge group of sheep.  They left the set out and boogied down the field as my dog got to about 10 o'clock.  He was way wide and deep, so the departure of the sheep was not his fault.  The set out person made a valiant effort to control the group, but alas no luck.  This caught me a bit flat footed, but I blew a down and flanked him back over.  He listen to everything I asked and we nearly got the sheep back on line.  Just skimmed the fetch panels.  I stopped Z and let the sheep drift the last few yards to the post and gave them a minute to breath.  All 4 were big eyed and up headed.  I knew I was going to have to work hard to keep things from going totally sideways.  I flanked Z to make the post turn and he kicked out nice and wide and the sheep began to have another mental melt down.  Blew a steady when the sheep were pointed in the general direction of the panel.  And they were off, we basically had to contain them rather than actual work them.  The course was pretty sort and I struggled to get our drive away line straitened out, but we made the panel. Had a great panel turn as the sheep wanted to make for the exhaust again we worked on containing them.  I thought I had a great line, but just skimmed low, cost us a ton of points.  There were quite a few people who did the same.  Turned that panel and they fought to go to the exhaust, so again another tough line to make.  Of course being the sheep they are they walked right into the pen.  My shed never happened, every time I moved my dog or myself the sheep tried to book it away.  When I received my score, it was pretty much as I expected 65, it would have been nice to make the shed and at least kept half my points from that ;).  Ho hum better luck next time, right?

I was super pleased with my dog.  He listened to EVERYTHING I asked him, tried his guts out and kept his head together.  He had sort of a cockeyed, sheep eating look about him as we turned the post.  I haven't seen this side of him before.  Although as he is getting more mature he is getting more pushy and a little bit of a handful.  On my side of the team I only took my whistle out of my mouth 3X and this was for corrections when he would feel like he was getting tense.  So that's all for now.  I don't know for sure when our next trial will be just yet.