Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dogs, Dogs and more dogs!!

It’s been crazy the last two weeks. I have worked over 110 plus hours and am completely worn out. However, that big phase of the project is over but in June, it will be crazy again. I am taking a couple days off in the middle of June for trials and NOT bringing work with me. It will just have to wait. During one week, I was unable to work my dogs very much so they got put through their paces on the weekend. This Friday was my day off and I did put a few extra hours in but made sure I worked the dogs.

Epic went home to Ben and Deborah on Thursday and he learned a lot when he was here. He got lots of one on one time plus fetching the jolly ball and swimming and then playtime with other dogs. During his stint, he learned to work the flock with the ewes and lambs, chores, stall work and started to learn how to drive. He was calm in the lambing corral and has settled down quite a bit since he first came here. The first time I worked him on the large flock, his eyes got huge as if to say “WHOA, this is not my 5-8 sheep that I normally work on and what are those little itty bitty fuzz balls” (lambs). But he got with the program and handled all with ease. He learned quickly and was worked by Monique and Janet to get more seasoning under his belt. When they came to pick him up, he showed off his new skills. I sent him and the flock broke back and half went into the lambing corral and the other half went by the pond. He gathered the pond sheep and then I stopped him at the lambing corral gate and flanked him to go inside the corral. He left the pond flock and went into the lambing corral and then I stopped him. He stopped and flanked on the come bye as I told him and carefully brought out the sheep. Emmy, the Arab was standing there and he did not spook her or try to work her.

Then he put the two flocks together and brought them to me. We did some driving and he drove them about 50-75 feet with push and kept them bunched together. He was calm and listened well. Soon he was ready to go home but not before, he played in the pond for one last time. Deborah and Ben brought their new baby, Finley out and she is one cutie. She has the cutest nose and smile. Indy came out, ran around, and had fun. She is one cute little red Border Collie. Soon the one happy family made their way home and I was sad to see them go! They are some of the nicest people.

Rascal came for his lesson on Friday and it has been several weeks since I worked him. He likes to see the reasoning on why I make him do some items in his training. At first, he would cut in and bust the sheep but soon realized the correction was not worth it. He would still weigh in as he ran out he would contemplate on cutting in. As the months went by, the behavior was less but you would see flashes of it. On Friday as he ran out to get the 50 ewes and lambs that were spread out, he slowed down, took a hard look at the sheep and then cast out wide and deep behind the sheep. You could see him brain clicking and for the rest of the lesson, he cast out wide as he now saw the purpose. He worked the flock with ease and on his fetches, he would weave the stragglers back in so the flock was snug and tight. At the end of the lesson, he came off the field, his chest puffed out with pride.

Later that day I worked Meg on a few sheep. She just turned a year old and was able to go both ways by the end of the lesson. I also worked her on Saturday on the large flock and her confidence was growing rapidly. She is a fine dog owned by Tony, her dam is Faye (Nan’s daughter), and Scott is her sire. She is going to be a smooth dog when she grows up. Earlier during the week, I worked Torq and Tam and both had improvements. I worked Taff every night, he is getting better each time, and I am seeing a deep bond grow between us. I did tune-up work with Roo and Nan and of course, had to work Tess. She also did her nightly chores of putting the ducks and chickens, turkeys and guineas away each night. The Open dogs did well and we all enjoyed the sessions.

Saturday greeted us with downpours and cold. Not what I was looking forward to at all!!  Monique came up and gave lessons while I did chores. She has come a long way since she first came here, a rookie then to now giving lessons and working young dogs. I watched her work Kane and it was a joy to see a nice Aussies work stock. Nancy, the owner went out and by the end, Kane was rating the stock well and they ended on a nice walkabout. Monique worked Torq while took photos for their owner. He is in for training and learning to rate the stock and slow down. He has progressed quite a bit and we hope by the end of summer that he will be able to do a Novice course. Torq is a son of Tess and Scott and you can see shades of both parents in his work.

Lucy ran well for Monique and it was a real pleasure to see them work together. They are as one. Later during the day, Lucy lay upside down in Monique’s lap and it warmed everyone heart that was nearby. You could see the intense love between the two. Here is Monique's blog.

Sue and John also came up with Bongo. A few year ago, when I had Bongo, I had put some training on him and then some more this summer. Monique helped Sue in the round pen and it was fun to watch Sue learn that her Bongo is a talented dog. I think they were amazed how talented their little gem was!!

Tam was on the muscle but soon realized that outgunning Monique was a bad idea. He is a lot of dog and we hope he will be out Nursery contender next year. We will be keeping our fingers crossed.

Later in the afternoon, Joan Ranquet came over and did some animal communicator for me. She did reading for Shiro, Tess, Nan, Roo, Taff and Rainey. She also talked to Emmy and Emma, the Arabs! It was very enlightening and showed some insights to my dogs. I’ll post about this in another blog. She also did communication for Janet (Mattie ) and Monique (Paddie and Lucy a couple of weeks ago. I highly recommend her and she is offering a class in July (Animal Communication) in Carnation. I attended one in April and will be going to the July session. Her link. She has some openings for the July session.

Soon everyone left and it was quiet. I took Meg out again and she worked the large flock and was going both ways with ease. She was game and did mini outruns and then I worked on her fetching and getting more miles under her belt. Taff was eager and we worked on squaring his flanks and staying on his down. Roo was spot on, his flanks were nice and square, and I totally enjoyed working him. Nan had been given a bath earlier by Monique since she had rolled in goose poop, I didn’t want to work her since it was muddy but she carried on and on, so I relented. She ran fine, true, and pushed hard on her walkup. After we were done, she was quite pleased with herself and carried her tail high in the air as she danced about. Tess stood at the gate and looked forlornly at me so I turned and went back in with her. She cast out wide and brought the sheep at a fast clip and we drove there around for a bit. When I finished with our session, her eyes were glistening with delight!

Sunday was better as it did not pour buckets and the rain stayed away. It was overcast, cool and had some bouts of sunshine. Nancy and Courtney were my first students. I had moved my yearlings to Nayab’s main field so we worked them. They were not dog broke and wild as deer. They saw the dog, bolted, and were hair trigger light. Nancy was not sure about their dogs working them but part of learning is taking on new challenges. Jack was pushy at first but soon began to rate and Nancy was able to see the bubble and ran well. I am sure she forgot her comment about working the wild sheep as she put them through the course. Courtney and Logan did fantastic. The sheep had attitude with Logan and by the end were working sweet and were getting dog broke. The no longer ran but walked smartly around the course and I was proud of how well Courtney handled the sheep with Logan. Nancy also worked Meg who was trying to blow her off but she did the outrun exercise and Meg decided listening to Nancy was in her best interest. She is a very tough pushy dog that taps Nancy but Nancy rises to the occasion and is beginning to run her well. Both Nancy and Courtney did very well considering they started out with non dog broke sheep and ended up with their lesson by doing a Ranch course with the same sheep. I know when I had worked Taff on these sheep, it was horrible as he was too pushy and they ran and ran. He had to stay way off the sheep but would push too hard and it was hard. I made a mental note to myself to tell Taff that Jack, Logan and Meg had done well and he should too!!

Later the day, Kathleen (Emma) , Toney (Faye and Meg) and Janet (Scott and Tess) showed up. We worked on a mock trial since they all will be running in Ranch or ProNovice next weekend. The first couple of runs were practice runs so they could see what areas they needed to work on. We also set up a pen in the corner. We used an x-pen and with the four of us, it was set up quickly.

They had to pick up the sheep that were set about 150-175 yards away, go around the handler’s post, do a drive to a cone then a slanted crossdrive to another cone, then back to the post, settle and then to the pen. The first two practice runs showed the errors and we worked on squaring up flanks, timing and downs. All of them worked on the problems areas and then the third run was judged with comments. If I saw an issue as they ran, I would call out to them how to fix it on the fly. Tony was calm and smooth during his run and when he begins to be serious in trialing, he will be a real competitor. Kathleen and Emma are really teaming up and she worked on downing Emma to make her run more successful and feeling the bubble. Emma can drive quite well and they have made great strides in the last year. Janet ran her trusty Scott who decided he wanted to slice on his flanks. I stepped out to how her how to fix it since she was being too easy on him Scotty smarten up quickly and suddenly remember how to do clean flanks. Janet ran Tess who tried to run the course by herself and they worked on teaming together. Janet realized that she gave Tess short, quick flanks on the drive when she should have given her wide flanks. The short flanks caused the sheep to veer off course. On her third run, it was almost perfect.

The last run was timed (5 minutes) and no help from the judge.. Kathleen ran Emma and they had a few glitches on the drive but did well. Emma stayed off the stock and Kathleen was calm. Janet ran with Scott and did well, making sure he cast out wide and was not pushing. She was quiet but had firmness in her voice. Tony had a stunning run but twice he gave her the wrong flanks (and I told him but hit him hard for that)…he also had a smooth pen. Tess was last with Janet and she decided she needed to be on the muscle and was really leaning on the sheep. Janet was dinged here and there on her drive, a point here, there as Tess was pushing hard. She got a pen but lost a few points on the drive. She will learn to ratchet Tess down when she is on the muscle. All in all, the runs were quite nice and I think it was Janet (Scott), Kathleen (Emma) and Tone (Faye), they had tied so it was broken on outwork and Janet (Tess) was last. I believe the point spread between first, second, third was only three point. It was very close and you could see the huge improvement by the fourth run, the trial run. I hope that they do as well as they did today at the trial next weekend. I was very proud of everyone today (Nancy, Courtney, Tony, Kathleen and Janet) as they all rose up to the challenge today.

After we were all done, Janet and I ran out for a late lunch then back to the farm for chores. I let Taff run loose and he crawled into my lap, begging to be worked on the sheep. I worked him on the back lawn on the rams and he was wide. I used a Sit for his down and he took it and waited (most of the time) to be release, He did work quite well and I praised him for his efforts. I thought about working Roo but by then after five hours of lessons, I was too tired. I will work Roo, Nan, Taff, Tam and Torq tomorrow. Tess will get the day off from sheep but will do her nightly chores of poultry management.

We worked Mattie and made a challenge for her. We put the sheep in the upper pasture and she had to work them It was tough and she tried to flake out a couple of time but after she got a correction, she decided to work.  Mattie is a Smithfield Sheepdog. Janet learned to use her crook in the proper postion and by the end Mattie was working well for her too. Janet has a blog

It was a fine weekend with lots of dog work and good dog work at that. The end of the evening was topped off by reading the Alta- Pete blog (Scott and Jenny Glen) that Rainey got third in her Nursery run and did her best run so far. She has been on the road with them as well as Kuro and Sava. Rainey is Getty’s little princess and he adores her. Sava has been running well for Scott and she is in ProNovice getting miles under her belt. She was not mature enough to run in her Nursery year so she is now getting seasoned to be an excellent Open dog. Scott has been having success with Kuro. I got Kuro from Angie Driscoll (Kinloch Sheepdog) and he is a son of her Jamie. Jamie used to be owned by Bobby Dalziel and now is run by Angie. We have high hopes for Kuro and Scott at this year’s Nursery finals.

What an enjoyable weekend to be surround be friends and to have a tasty dinner cooked by Getty. We had skewed teriyaki flank steak and mesquite chicken. Of course, Tess and Nan got a tiny piece of my dinner. As I type this, we are watching Brooks and Dunn Last Rodeo and settling in for a cozy night. Hope all of you had as much fun as we did! I haven’t had this much fun in a long time.

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