Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Decide


The dogs and I have been getting out and working sheep, nearly every day. Today is a rest day for us which they are agreeing to unwillingly, but they have no choice. :) Spot has bounced back from his month off of work and has not missed a beat in where he left off. In fact after a few on-the-muscle moments the first couple of sessions, he has settled in to working at least as well if not better than before he got sick.


I have to thank Marnie for the above quote. I don't know where it came from, otherwise I would credit that source. Spot and I are now working on the finer points. His basic work is mostly all good. He lacks experiences so I am working on that. We've had a couple of really good lessons. We are stretching Spot out a bit and giving him experiences that I hope will increase his confidence level. I'm asking friends to help me to hold sheep for us to simulate a trial situation. I'm working on getting us there!  Spot is starting to get it with shedding a larger group of sheep so he is ready for me to work on four or five head now, once in a while. I am not going to push it as he clearly knows what I mean when I set up a shed. Again, we are working on building experience and slowly layering on the finer points. I have started working on a look back, too.  Spot is ready to just soak up all of these experiences and I am certainly enjoying it.

It has been really fun lately to follow along with the UK National trials and to see the high standard of work that they are showcasing. Here we are again in the high season for sheepdog trials...the four UK National trials, then Soldier Hollow, the International, Meeker, our Finals. So much great work to observe, and learn from, thanks to the internet. :)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Inspiration and Losing That Loser's Limp

Spot, "waiting for the word..."

Ryme, pleased with himself and happy after his work session
I am inspired and uplifted and humbled by friends. I had allowed myself to develop a "loser's limp". A loser's limp is an ongoing excuse where you give yourself permission to fail, or at least to not perform up to your capabilities. This definition of the loser's limp is loosely gathered from the book " That Winning Feeling!" by Jane Savoie, where I first heard of the concept, years ago.  I haven't pulled this book off the shelf in a while but I am going to read through it again. I realized recently that I had a loser's limp.  I am so grateful for my friends who have been patiently inspiring me in ongoing fashion, and finally I took some action to flush that excuse and get rid of it...mentally erasing it off of the chalk board where I had been underlining and highlighting that limp. Page 66 from that book states, this quote:  " It's not what you don't have that matters. It's what you do with what you have."  

 I am also inspired by these good dogs who continue to amaze me.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Spot is Back to Work...

Spot is back to work. I am super grateful.


We had our much-anticipated veterinary re-check this past week, and Spot got an exam and chest xrays. He was pronounced, "spotless", and the veterinarian was quoted as saying, "turn him loose." Yes maam!

There is no guarantee that whatever it was, won't come back. But in talking with other folks whose dogs actually had foxtails in their lungs, those dogs were much more ill than Spot was. I am very hopeful.

His first couple works have been a little bit ragged and his flanks are a bit tight. But overall he is working great for me again and I can't wait to get him in a little bit better shape so that we can move forward again towards our goals of being ready to trial in the Fall and after that.

Mr. Coal also had a re-check at the vet. She felt an enlarged spleen on Coal upon palpation, three weeks ago when Coal had his annual exam which happened to coincide with Spot being sick. We decided to re-check Coal when Spot had an appointment this past week to come back into the vet. She said that the spleen felt smaller than it did three weeks ago. Whew. But she wanted to xray his abdomen just to be sure. The xray showed no masses on the spleen and the margins of it were nicely defined. There is no reason, at this time, to move forward with other diagnostics such as an ultrasound. My vet will check him again in December when Coal is due for a vaccine.

Since his spleen was good, I asked Dr. Joy to check Coal's front feet which have been very lame. He has had swollen and off-again-on-again sore front feet for some time. Since he already had one xray on the invoice, it didn't cost much more to add another view and she got an xray of his front feet that told us a lot. The feet are not particularly arthritic so she feels that his swelling and lameness is inflamed soft tissue. That is something we can work with. I started him on some Metacam and he is walking more soundly already. I don't want to keep him on Metacam but it is a dramatic enough improvement that I can totally see that working on keeping his inflammation down is going to help a lot. Whew! There are also some other things we can do including supplements and therapies.

I'm glad that there is a little bit of July still left. :-)


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Mid Summer Night

Here are the boys on a July evening when I go to do chores.

Cosmo, The Magnificent

Ryme. I liked the colors in this photo.

Coal, aka water monkey, or Mr. Monk, enjoying some cool off time.

Spotto, of the big tongue.
I'm sorting off the oldest two ewes to supplement them with some alfalfa pellets (actually they sort themselves off now, after a couple days of this routine). These two are eight years old and starting to show their age. We are not feeding hay to the others, yet. There is still some dry pasture and they have some protein supplement to lick. They are all still in very good shape. They are not bred or anything so we can wait. We're assessing it week to week but will probably have to start feeding hay soon, or certainly if the sheep start to get worked more.

One more day of antibiotics for Spot.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sheep and Down Time

I got to visit these 5 fab guys recently.
When I visited our five white wethers recently, it was nice to see them so fat and happy. You can't see it in this photo but they came up to lie down and chew their cud just a few feet away from where we were sitting and enjoying a glass of wine at the end of the day on the porch. :) It's so nice to have social sheep.

They are such a nice set to use for working young dogs, which leads me to my next topic. As a postscript to my recent "Quandary" post, we recently saw a really nice young adult BC female who has had a little training but is certainly just very nice "right out of the box", i.e. with few to no commands. She balances, has nice open flanks, the beginnings of a stop and a call-off, just lovely. This little female's owner bought her as a baby puppy. It really is the luck of the draw when you pick a puppy out of a litter at a young age but this little bitch is perfect for a novice/beginner handler.  I'll look forward to seeing them working at the local events.

Until Spot is declared fit to work again, I have had a lot of down time. I am alternating between cleaning and yard work, and just taking some R&R time to kick back. Once necessitates the other, I guess. :) This morning's chore: the garage (and still much to be done there).  Spot seems to be feeling fine; he is eating, and wants to play and run. This is the latest version of  "Spot's progress." I'm trying to keep his activity from expanding into over-exertion, which is why I am not supposed to work him on the sheep. I almost think that some quiet controlled sheep work would be better than some of the stuff he does in the back yard. He is still on twice a day antibiotics until mid to end of next week. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Happiness Is...

Happiness is... empty dog food bowls. Meaning: everyone ate their meal and no one is sick, or has a fever. Yes!


Gratitude for what is positive. Today is the first day with only one antibiotic instead of two.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Waiting Game

We're playing the waiting game, around here. In one day, Spot will be finished with the first of the two bottles of antibiotics that were prescribed a week ago. In one more week, he will be finished with the other bottle of antibiotics. We are waiting to see if his illness (pneumonia brought on by an unknown cause - an aspirated foxtail? an aspirated something else? an infection? what? ) will recur if he is off the antibiotics. If nothing else happens, we have a vet appointment scheduled for two weeks from now, to repeat the chest x-rays. It is a waiting game. He looks fine and appears to feel fine. He is eating and wants to play, and clearly really wants to to work; it's "Spot's progress" of a different kind. I am not supposed to work him for fear of over-exerting him and making that thing move in his lungs, that is if there is a thing at all, although the veterinarians saw something on the xrays (but it sure did not scream at me, "hey! I am a foxtail!" but I am not the one with a DVM).  I miss working him, very much. I am letting him walk the sheep in, at night. That means, a dog appears in the field and the sheep go to the gate. I open the gate, the sheep go in. The chore is complete. Poor Spot. We count our blessings; things could be much, much worse. Everyone has been so kind about this, reaching out and continuing to ask about Spot. We are very grateful. 

In this photo from a few weeks ago, Spot and I were working on driving a large group of sheep. This is not what we are doing now. I'm hoping that we will be back to this in a few weeks.