Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

On Thanksgiving Day, I always like to try to take pictures of the dogs. I had a hard time getting them to line up in one frame, today, but below are the two choices that I came up with. Neither photo is too great but they are better than nothin'! :)

Dogs who would rather be running around playing, or more importantly, working not care to sit still for silly photos for mom.

We had a great day, working sheep, doing chores, and just hanging out. I got to play with two litters of puppies, and I made two new recipes that I've been wanting to try. One recipe is from The Beef Jar, a blog that I enjoy reading.

The dogs got nice raw bones late this afternoon and they are more than thrilled that I had the day off and they in turn got a break from their work day routine.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Some Nice Rain and Some Thoughts

We've had some nice rain this past week...a couple of days of lovely wetness. It is very welcome in these parched parts. Maybe soon we will have as much green grass as in the above photo with Coal (from two years ago). For today, however, the rain seems to have stopped and the wind has really picked up. Time to get the summer umbrellas off the back porch and stowed until spring.

The dogs are so bored because of their inactivity during the week; however I am finding that when I do get them out to the sheep they are not as wild as I might have guessed. Coal and I are a bit rusty, and his stubborn side is showing, which I am trying to tune up before the Dunnigan trial. But the younger dogs seem to be taking it in stride that we have hit that midpoint of winter where the days are short. Another month, and the days will start to get longer, again.

Spot's training is coming along. He is picking up on the whistles, the driving, and everything I am throwing at him. What needs attention (again) is the stop at more of a distance, now that I have probably mixed everything up in his head. I've been trying to make up chores and jobs for Spot to do, whenever we can. He is so willing to work with me, which is very exciting! And for which I am very grateful. Thanksgiving is next week so it's probably a good time to come up with a gratitude post. Food for thought. :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Remembering Green Grass and Water

These pictures are from approximately two years ago at this time of year, when we had actual rain.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Coal

photo by L. Heringer
This photo made the BCIA 2015 calendar. :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Just Work Him and Have Fun

Don't train on him by rote, just work him and have fun.

That's the latest in Spot's progress. He's progressing so fast and so well that the latest mantra from this week's lesson is to just work him and don't train on him. Don't push him, don't try to fine tune him yet. Let him work, find practical jobs for him to do, or make them up as you go. Get him out and about wherever you can on whatever different sheep you can (yeah, right, that is always the tallest order).

Our lesson this week started out with me showing what Spot and I can do with a small packet of sheep. We gathered, we drove, we fetched. We had a great time ... and then we were challenged to do much more.

We drove the small group of sheep much farther than ever before, up over a hill. I tried to keep up on the hill. A couple of times Spot tried to head the sheep but he stopped when I asked him to, and waited for me. When we reached the top, the sheep drifted to another pen full of sheep while we caught our breath from the hill climb, and Spot got a drink. Then we took all the sheep out of that pen and drove them away, and brought them back and re-penned them.

Then we took them out again, and we got to do long outruns on the hills with all those many sheep. Oh my. It was such a thrill to see Spot doing what he was bred for, working sheep on the hills. I am so grateful, yet I know we have both worked so hard for this connection.  "Hills make a dog." Such a true statement! He learns a lot by doing. We do have some things to work on. :) The stop on the fetch at a distance, for example, and whistles, and more. Can't wait!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Covelo Work Day

RESDA sponsored a sheepdog work day last weekend at a ranch in Covelo, CA. It is a long drive but definitely worth the trip! We went last year and when the opportunity came up to go again this year, it was a must-do on the to-do list.

The green grass in the pasture was ankle deep which was a shock both to our systems and to the dogs. We are used to dried up brown, hard dirt with a few springs of brown here and there. To walk and work in nice lush green grass was a real treat.  I guess they have had rain up there that we just haven't gotten yet.

The sheep were older Dorper lambs who had never been worked in small groups, so that was the major challenge.  They also had their heads buried in that lush green grass and did not want to move. That changed what I was able to do with my dogs but I am still very grateful for the chance to get out on different sheep in a different place.

Coal did a nice outrun and fetch but then was pretty much unable to drive the lambs very far without some help and encouragement. Most of the dogs were similar, and had to kind of weave back and forth to get the lambs to move once they had planted themselves in a location. In contrast, Spot was able to pick them up and drive them without the sheep hesitating.  Spot did a nice outrun then picked up the sheep and drove the sheep away from me as straight as a string with no weaving.  That made my weekend to see!

I was super happy with all three dogs that I took to work as I felt that they all tried hard. The drive back and forth to Covelo is a long one and we left early enough to get home (or at least out of the area of the winding and hilly roads) before dark, the weekend of the time change.

It was also great to see many of our handler friends and have a visit in such a pleasant location. Oh and the fact that there was surprise barbecue and fixin's made it extra special.  Thank you to everyone who helped!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Wordless Wednesday, a Day Late

The Beef Jar blog has some nice Wordless Wednesday posts so I am going to try to follow suit. :)