Thursday, February 27, 2014

Saturday Trial Wrap-up

A bit late due to work and life but here is the wrap-up from this last Saturday. I originally had not planned to go but Janet twisted my arm so I went with Maid and Nan to Scatter Creek Trail, judged by Sandy Johnson. As usual, we got up before the sunrise, and snuck out of town under the cover of darkness. Rainey was put out when I slammed the door in her face. We got there early and hung out and watched runs. The handler had to stand in field A and the sheep were in field B. You had to send your dog and the gate was in front of you. In back of you was the exhaust and the gate was open and to your direct side was a corral wit ewes and lambs. The dogs that didn't get confused by all of that had the challenge of going thru the gate and many hit the fence, crossed or went back to the handlers.

Maid was first so I did a walk up and she was confused but did as I asked, although her walk-up was tentative. As soon as she hit the gate, I gave her a huge flank and she cast out nice. Picked up the sheep well and I hit her with a down. She took it readily and waited for my next command. The sheep were the super light hair sheep and bolted down the field. As soon as they settled, I had her  walk slowly and she brought them nicely through the gate. The post turn was hard as the sheep ran to the corral sheep and plastered against the fence or tried to bolt to the exhaust. I did the wrong turn then made a bloody mess of trying to unwind. But we finally got it going and had a nice first drive. As soon as the sheep hit the panels, they bolted over the hill and I was slow to flank Maid. Maid took a wrong flank but brought the sheep nicely over the hill. I put them back online and we made the rest of the drive nice. We timed out in the shed ring as they were super light so as a result we didn't get the pen as well. But in spite of the runaway and missed shed and pen, she placed 7th. I guess even with that debacle, she had one of the better drives. Maid worked well for me and was soft and biddable. I really enjoy running her and we click well together. She really bends herself over backwards to please me and no tension.
Nan ran towards the end of the day and by this time the sheep had run through the course several times and knew where the exhaust was as well as the draws. I did the dame walkup and flanked her at the gate and got points docks for a redirect but it was that or a crossover. She bent out deep and came in nice for a superb lift. The setout crew told me later she had one of the best outwork and positioned herself nice. She stopped and the sheep calmed down and we had a nice controlled fetch. In fact, she had one of the best outworks at the trial and so did Maid. In Maid's case, the lost points was me fumbling at the post turn.
Nan had a sweet drive and I didn't repeat the same mistake that I did with Maid. A little bit off here and there and she had one of the best drives. it took a bit to set up for the shed as the sheep wanted to bolt through the gate to the exhaust but she came in clean and fast and got the shed. We had them in the pen but one busted out and they spun but we did sneak them back in and got the pen. Nan placed second and I was quite please with my 11 year old dog!


The drive home was quiet as we mulled over the trial and what to do to improve. Janet ran Jude quite well and placed sixth out of 15 dogs. Hopefully she will post on her blog about her run. I was quite happy with both dogs considering I hadn't worked them very much as I was out of town the prior two weeks for work and didn't get home until late. The day was nice and patches of sun. It waited until we were driving home before the snow fell. All in all,  I was glad that Janet twisted my arm. Plus she is great company and just a good person!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

How Dogs Know What You're Feeling...

I read this article and found it very interesting:

"When you hear a friend’s voice, you immediately picture her, even if you can’t see her. And from the tone of her speech, you quickly gauge if she’s happy or sad. You can do all of this because your human brain has a “voice area.” Now, scientists using brain scanners and a crew of eager dogs have discovered that dog brains, too, have dedicated voice areas. The finding helps explain how canines can be so attuned to their owners’ feelings.
“It’s absolutely brilliant, groundbreaking research,” says Pascal Belin, a neuroscientist at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, who was part of the team that identified the voice areas in the human brain in 2000. “They’ve made the first comparative study using nonhuman primates of the cerebral processing of voices, and they’ve done it with a noninvasive technique by training dogs to lie in a scanner.”
The scientists behind the discovery had previously shown that humans can readily distinguish between dogs’ happy and sad barks. “Dogs and humans share a similar social environment,” says Attila Andics, a neuroscientist in a research group at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest and the lead author of the new study. “So we wondered if dogs also get some social information from human voices.”
To find out, Andics and his colleagues decided to scan the canine brain to see how it processes different types of sounds, including voices, barks, and natural noises. In humans, the voice area is activated when we hear others speak, helping us recognize a speaker’s identity and pick up on the emotional content in her voice. If dogs had voice areas, it could mean that these abilities aren’t limited to humans and other primates.
So the team trained 11 dogs to lie motionless in a functional magnetic resonance imaging brain scanner, while wearing headphones to deliver the sounds and protect their ears. “They loved doing this,” Andics says, adding that the pooches’ owners were there to reward them with treats and petting. The scanner captured images of the dogs’ brain activity while they listened to nearly 200 dog and human sounds, including whines, cries, playful barks, and laughs. The scientists also scanned the brains of 22 human subjects who listened to the same set of sounds. Both dogs and humans were awake during the scans.
The images revealed that dog brains have voice areas and that they process voices in the same way that human brains do, the team reports online today in Current Biology. And because these voice areas are found in similar locations in the brains of both dogs and humans, the scientists suggest that they likely evolved at least 100 million years ago, when humans and dogs last shared a common ancestor, an insectivore. Indeed, some think that brain areas for processing vocal sounds could be discovered in more species.
Still, when voice areas were first discovered in humans, they were thought to be special and somehow tied specifically to the evolution of language. “So what are they doing in dog brains?” Andics asks.
The answer lies, he thinks, in what the scans also revealed: Striking similarities in how dog and human brains process emotionally laden sounds. Happy sounds, such as an infant’s giggle, made the primary auditory cortex of both species light up more than did unhappy sounds, such as a man’s harsh cough. “It shows that dogs and humans have similar brain mechanisms for processing the social meaning of sound,” Andics says, noting that other research has shown that dogs “respond to the way we say something rather than to what we say.” The similarity in auditory processing, he adds, “helps explain why vocal communication between the two species is so successful.”
But there were differences, too. The researchers discovered that in dogs, 48% of their auditory brain regions respond more strongly to environmental sounds, such as a car engine, than to voices. In humans, in contrast, a mere 3% of their sound-sensitive brain regions lit up more for the nonvocal sounds. “It shows how very strongly attuned the human auditory cortex is to vocal sounds,” Andics says. “In dogs, it’s more heterogeneous.”
Yet it is the similarity in how dogs and humans process the emotional information in voices that other researchers find most intriguing. “They’ve confirmed what any dog owner knows—that their pooches are sensitive to one’s tone of voice,” says John Marzluff, a wildlife biologist at the University of Washington, Seattle. Even more important, he adds, is that the study “confronts us with the realization that our wonderful brain is in many ways a product of our distant evolutionary past.”

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Nikki...our newest member!!

I am woefully behind on posting about my new Border Collie. Her name is Nikki and Scott Glen found her for me. He got her from Scott and Trish Kelsoe. She is a daughter of Alasdair's Nap and her dame is Cedes. Alasdair and Tricia filled me on her dam's history as well.  She ran in PN and is very determined. Lots of push, some eye and very willing. Super sweet personality. Gets along with Nan, Maid and Rainey.
Nikki as a baby (from Trish?)
another baby (from Trish)
Working on the farm. I have been doing voice commands since I don't have her whistles down yet. She responds quite well. She handles the sheep quite well and is very kind.

She rates the sheep well. Very stylish and wants to please.
She will be my PN dog until Nan is retired.  Until then she is enjoying the farm life and playing ball and swimming in the ponds. Thanks to Scott for finding her for me!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Thursday, February 13, 2014

One year later...the heart is healing....

It’s been a year since my heart was ripped apart and the world came crashing down. Even now it still is painful. I started to write about Tess many times but never could finish the words. But today, I felt it was time. It seems like yesterday when she died in my arms, my tears cascading down her still but warm body and my heart was bursting. The worse ache one can ever feel.  I had incredible pain when I had my heart surgery but this pain was ten times worse. I grieved for weeks and the nights were unbearably lonely without her cuddled next to me. Getty was just as heartbroken as he loved her as much as me. 

We loved her so much that we gave up our city life and bought a sheep farm for her second birthday. On her birthday as we drove into our new farm, Getty turned to me and said “Look honey, I got you  this sheep farm for your birthday.”
I replied that my birthday was next month and he coolly answered, “I was talking to Tess.” She was sitting between us, her head peering over the dashboard, ready for her new adventure.   She was probably the only dog that ever got a sheep farm for her birthday. She was that special.
Over the years, we learned a lot. We had our trials and tribulations, our wins and our losses. Many stories were written and published about her. The farm was named after her. She enriched our lives and all those she came in contact.

She arrived two years earlier, a scared puppy. Afraid so much that ever time anyone looked at her, she would pee. Afraid of dogs, she would run behind us in terror. She didn’t have a good start in life. She came from a backyard breeder.  She was shot with a shotgun at 6 weeks as the puppies didn’t come when called so the breeder shot at them. She was peppered with pellets that resided in her body for her entire life. We bought her as a pity buy, as she was going to be shot since the breeder was going to leave town and didn’t want to take them along and refused to turn them into rescue. Our thought was to buy her then find her a good home. She had no papers and we picked her up and we melted in her large, sad eyes. By the weekend, we decided she was going to stay and our lives took a new path.
Her nickname was “pee pee princess” as she peed every time she saw you but as she grew confident she quit. She was afraid but yet brave. She didn’t leave the porch aside to go potty and in the house was next to us. Prior to us, she never had any real human contact. She loved us deeply. Once she saw us plant 20 plus Azaleas in three rows, lovingly planting each one with care and tenderness. We were proud of our work and they looked stunning in three rows in the far side of the backyard. Tess watched us from the porch as she was too scared to leave the porch. Later that night, she crawled out to the far darkness of the back yard, and dug up every single one and put them at the back door for us. She saw how much we admired them and wanted to please us. It took great courage for her to cross the backyard and dig up all 20 plus plants. Sheer terror must have been her friend.  We saw the plants next to the door and saw her happy face and realized how brave she had to be to get every one of those plants. Her tail wagged and we scooped her up and told her she was a good girl. She peed with delight.
We discovered herding and then made the plunge to the country. She went to Scott Glen for training and under his tutelage; she got registered on merit, the third dog in ABCA history. She placed 6th in the USBCHA Sheepdog Nationals Finals with Scott.  She became social and outgoing as I would pass her to folks at trials with treats and soon she realized people were her friend. She became a social butterfly at trial, often working the crowd for treats and finding a warm lap to hop on and snuggle.
We grew up together on the trial field. I was her handicap, often giving her rapid fire commands, wrong commands or just doing everything wrong. She was patient with me and if I gave a particularly bad command, she would sit down, turn her head back to me as if to say, “Really, try again” and then I would give her the right command and she would bust out to do it. Over the years, we became a fine team and went to the Finals. Me so being green and her being seasoned. Just prior to her run, my mentor told me the sheep were tough and if she couldn’t move them; don’t be upset as many dogs could not move them. Even far tougher dogs. So we went to the post, she scanned for the sheep, leaned forward and I sent her with a grip command. We had one of the fastest time going into the shedding ring. Later I told my mentor, I sent her with a grip command because I knew she would show them her teeth. The sheep bolted down the fetch line and the setout crew told me, she came in at the top, her  jaws opening and closing and they could her the clicking of her  teeth. 
She loved to please me and would do anything I asked, even thought she sometimes would have no idea what to do.  She had great instinct and was biddable.  Courage of a lion but gentle with lambs. Playful but serious. A bright light in our lives. She went everywhere with us and enjoyed her birthday and Christmas gifts with delight. She took great care of me, both on and off the field. When I had my heart surgery, she never left my side and would lick the tears of pain off my face and was my nursemaid during the entire ordeal. I knew the day that I would live as it was touch and go, when she left me to go play ball.
She has the deepest soulful eyes and could read our emotional and feelings.  She was my soul mate. We never were far apart and she was my sounding board. Often when I would get stuck writing, she would snuggle next to me, lick my hands and then the words would flow out. She was my inspiration to be a better handler. She forgave me for my numerous mistakes and when we would leave the field, she would look at me as if to say, don’t worry, next time we will get it. And we did.
We became a good team, winning and enjoying our runs. In the shedding ring, our eyes would met, she would give me a small grin, then fly in for a shed. She was a masterful shedder which was ironic as she started off being the worse shedder in her training. I would eye a single and she would snake in and hold it. She would always find her sheep and rated them well and we had some incredible runs. We had some awful runs as well but we had the time of our lives. We had a ritual of doing a dance before our runs.
She was the queen at the farm. She was the best when it came to ewes and lambs, showing patience and settling the ewes. If a lambs didn’t move she would put her nose between the back legs under the tail and wheelbarrow the lamb to the location. The ewe didn’t seem to mind. She helped raise bottle lambs. She would take on the ram, holding her ground meeting the charge with teeth and turning the ram. She loved to work the chickens and later loved working cattle. She knew her job and did it well.
Over the years our love for her deepened and she had a hold of my heart. I had dogs all my life and loved everyone but never as much as I loved her.  She was a ray of sunshine that came into our lives when we had some darkness. She made us laugh and smile and learn to love life.  She had her opinion and was more than happy to let you know it, especially if you were wrong.  She brought joy into many people’s lives.  She worshiped my mother and would follow her around the entire time when she was at the farm. My mom spoiled her and taught her it was ok to beg at the table and get fed at the table.  We let my mom do as she pleased with Tess.

She had several litters of puppies and was an excellent mother. She didn't care how old her puppies were; to her, they were her pups. Once Rainey came in the house, soaking wet and Tess held her down and licked her dry. Rainey was over five years old but she let her mom take care of her.. She would let her pups (at any age) take food or toys from her mouth.  She also helped raise bottle lambs and was a devoted mother to Danny, our pet sheep. When we would get puppies, she would take them under her paw and raise them as her own. She loved cats and Rigby, our black/white cat, was her best buddy and they would take naps together. She had a huge heart and took all baby animals under her paw. If any of us were sick, she would crawl into bed and lick our faces and stand guard. Woe to any animal who dared hurt her puppies. One time, one of her pups was shrieking. Tess busted out of the barn with her teeth in full force and ready to kill. She reminded me of a she wolf. Her pup at that time was over 6 years old and had his foot caught in the fence. To her, once you were her pup, you always were her pup. She even let her pup, Dan, who was almost three years old, nurse on her. She just had puppies about two weeks earlier and was outside for a potty break and Dan ran up and she let him nurse. It was quite cute to see a full grown male dog nurse like  a pup. She loved her pups no matter what. She slept with us on the bed and that was where she had her puppies. She thought the whelping box that we had built for her was for common dogs. She had her head on my lap while she gave birth to her first litter on the bed. After they were born, we put them in the whelping box but she snuck them back in the bed and under the covers.
Tess carried me on her broad shoulder for many years making me look like a star, when it fact it was her. She handled the sheep and made it look easy. I went from a fumbling handler to someone who placed and qualified for the Finals. She also taught me how to manage the farm and train the other Border collies. She was very patient with me.
She retired at 11 plus years, going out in a blaze of glory. Winning or placing high in the last six trials to win a coveted quilt for high combined for the six trials. She had qualified also for the Finals as well. She took to retirement well and was a teacher for upcoming students. She took some of them under her wing and ran in PN with them and did well.  She went to every trial with me and was my lap warmer. At the camping site, she would wander and visit the other trial folks to see what treats they would offer her. She found that that Marroni’s were the best and often their trailer was the first one she would seek out. She managed to get the hardened judges who said they never feed dogs, slip her pieces of their lunches.  She would thank then kindly by a soft wag of her tail and quick lick.
In her twilight years, we discovered she had congestive heart failure so it was a matter of time, She went on meds and supplements and still had the fire in her belly. We found cancer in her front leg and she got herbal supplements for that and was reduced to almost being gone.  She still was the queen of the farm and woe to any dog that tried to take her jolly ball away. She no longer swam but let the young guns swim to get the ball and then appropriate it from them as they reached the shore and proudly carried it to me.  She still lived life to the fullest.
We knew it was getting close  as she was over 14 years and her heart was slowly failing. She would get tired quickly  but it never damped her spirit. She would snuggle next to me at night when I would read and peer over the pages as if she could read as well. She had her own pillow next to me and slept next to me.  She never took advantage or acted spoiled but took on the role of mentor towards me. She was good about all the meds, evil tasting as they were, and never complained. She still insisted on doing chores and I humored her and let her do them.
On her last day, she was full of fire. I had let sheep out to graze and she did some tending. Then  it was time to put them away and as I walked back to the gate, she bolted back to the sheep. She brought them back at warp speed and pretended not to hear me so I had her do a short course and ended with a shed. She came in brilliantly and it was good to see that eye connection and that sly smile. We went to the pond and I tossed the ball and she wrestled the ball from the young pups as they brought it to the shore. She ran around with the ball in the air, barking and  waving her tail in unabashed glory.  She had to do the chores and put the chickens away at full speed and was having fun. Then raced up the driveway and barked at me to run up the hill faster. I think she knew it was her last day and wanted us to have the time of our lives together. I called her a willful bitch as she raced around the sheep and she relished that. I laughed at her antics that day.
We hung out together later that night and watched Animal Planet. She leaned into me and fell asleep with her head in my lap, loud snores and twitching of her legs, perhaps thinking of running down a wayward ewe in her dreams. She wanted off the couch and then began to tremble.  I jumped off the couch and held her in my arms and she had a heart attack and died in my arms. I knew when I grabbed her that it was over and I cried and cried. I called Getty as he was at poker and he raced home. We held her in our arms and our hearts were broken.   Our lives were shattered. The love of our life died. It seemed so surreal. But she was put in our lives for a brief time; to show us a new life, to learn to live and love and learn to go on.  We grieved for months.
I lost my passion for trialing for the longest time. I would go through the motions but lost the feeling. Over time, my raw, gaping wound in my heart began to heal. I let the other dogs put pieces of their love  in my heart and my passion slowly began to slowly come back.  Maid saw the pain in my soul and she gave herself to me. She let me into her heart and became soft and funny. Then one day as I was running her, I felt a deep connection to her. She turned at looked at me and I saw the love flow to me. I began to cry and the passion for trialing came back. She ran brilliantly and took every command and was pliable. After the run, she wagged her tail and buried her head in my chest. I wept. Then I ran Nan and she ran her heart out for me and again, I wept with her head in my lap. The hole in my heart was filled by the love of the other dogs. Tess still lives in my heart and soul and now I feel, a year later, that healing finally has occurred and thank her for the time she had with us. She was a great dog, perhaps not the strongest but one who gave every I asked for and them some more.  I am so grateful that I was blessed with a wonderful dog and hope that I can honor her by doing my best. I will always love her.
It’s been a year, my sweet Tess and now I can say “That’ll do, Tess.”

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Racka Sheep

I saw these sheep and thought "how cool is that?"...some research and I found out there are called Racka Sheep.  They are from Hungary.
"The Racka is a unique breed with both ewes and rams possessing long spiral shaped horns. The breed is of the Zackel type and originated in Hungary. The breed is used for milk, wool and meat production. Mature males may have horns as long as two feet or more. The minimum standard length is given as 50 cm (20 inches) for rams and 30 cm (12-15 inches) for ewes. The cork-screw horns protrude almost straight upward from the top of the head.
The breed is found in two major color patterns. The most common shows brown hair covering the heads and legs with the fleece varying in color from dark brown to light brown and white. Individuals are also found which are solid black. The wool tips on these animals fades to a reddish black with exposure to sunlight and with age the points of the fleece will turn gray. The minimum exceptable mature body weight for ewes is 40 kg (88 lbs) and for rams 60 kg (132 lbs). The rams average 72 cm (29 inches) in height.
The wool is variable within the breed. It is generally described as having a fiber diameter of 12-40 microns. The yield is 38-65 percent. Staple length is approximately 30 cm (12 inches). Fleece weight must be at least 3 kg (6.6 lbs) for rams. The softness and crimp of the wool would indicated its interest in handspinners.
The Racka has been described as a hardy animal and is often used in crossbreeding due to its ability to pass this survivability to its offspring. The breeds unique appearance and quiet disposition would make it a desirable animal for hobby situations. "
of course, had to slip this one in!

 a sea of sheep.....
 those horns are scary!

they come in black...
don't mess with me!

to end with a cute lamb!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dog Perfume

Well, this explains it all.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Who is this famous Border Collie?

This is a famous Border Collie.  If you know (or think you know), post the name in the comments sections. I will post who the Border Collie is (and handler) in a few days.

Who Am I?