Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Off Season

'Tis the off season for sheepdog trials. But that translates into the "On" season for training, and other things.

It seems like several friends have posted that they got their females spayed is the off season and if you are going to have major surgery done, now is the time, when there are no trials to go to nearby. Spot joined into this activity, as he got neutered on Friday. So far he is rarin' to go. I decided to have this done (after setting up two appointments in the summer and then wimping out and cancelling them) to see if we can diminish his hormonally-driven behavior that has started to become a problem at trials. I can't get his nose off the ground before we run, and a few times he has run over to visit with the setout dog at the end of his outrun, instead of focusing on lifting his sheep as he should. This is extremely frustrating for me, after putting so much work into his training. As if we didn't have enough problems in trialling, he has started doing this, maybe 25% of the time. He never does it at home, or in lessons or clinics. Just at trials. Very frustrating. So I just decided to try to end the problem with neutering since I am not going to breed him. I certainly hope that it works. So far he seems will be a week or so before he can work again although he says he is ready *today*. That Scrimgeour stamina gene...oh my!!!

Ryme turned ten this past week, on December 6th. He is still a little bit lame, which is a bummer. He is getting better, but it is a very slow process. He is still my very good boy. :-)

Ryme really wants to work. I am still hoping that he can go back to work once his leg is healed.

It is very strange to go work dogs and only take one a result of all of the above. Cap is the only one left (Coal does not work any more) right now. Cap is just such fun to work...he is constantly asking the question, "what next, boss?" and wants to please. We have just barely started inside flanks. He knows the stop and walk up whistle. I am blowing the flank whistles when he is already doing them. He doesn't know his sides on command yet, but he is improving on those. After our lesson last week we are mainly working on gathers, with a little bit of driving.

You will have to take my word for it, but these pictures above are showing Cap and me, from our lesson last week. The clouds were gorgeous that day...winter is the best time to train, as far as I am concerned. Other than the short daylight hours, I love the softer ground, greener grass, and cooler temperatures that all allow you to train a bit longer and work things out with a younger dog.

I've put up a few Christmas decorations. It is a good time of the year, the off season.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

New Month

We're now into December. Thankfully, we are getting some rain. This is what our skies looked like, for several weeks of November:

The smoke was from the deadly #Camp Fire.  Just too much unimaginable loss there; the trauma for many is ongoing...

Meanwhile, the daylight is very short, so I have little time to work dogs, but I am managing to squeeze in some short training sessions here and there on week nights by starting my real work at 6:30 a.m., and of course on the weekends. Cap is coming along well.  This picture is from last Sunday:

We went for a lesson in Zamora, yesterday. I'll be working on lengthening the outrun and increasing Cap's scope. I got good information from the lesson, and enjoyed watching the others. There is a hint of green on the fields! Yippee!

Out of curiosity, I sent  Cap's DNA into Paw Prints for the border collie profile. He came back as a Normal on all of the tests except that he is a CEA carrier. This is good information to have. I'm glad he is just a carrier and not affected of course. Now I just wish a DNA test for the EAOD would be released.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Cap on a Sunday Afternoon

Here are some more little videos of Cap. In these we are just walking around and I am letting Cap bring the sheep without a lot of command. He does not know his sides 100% yet, which is obvious in the videos. He is trying hard to please though, and is really fun to work.

One more:

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Cap Pushing Sheep Into a Corner

These are a couple of short videos of Cap pushing sheep into a corner, taking them out again, and pushing them back in. I found a place to stand next to a corner where I don't feel vulnerable and I am not worried about getting hit by the sheep, especially those with the horns. Cap is mostly making fairly nice flanks and he is trying really hard to please and do what I ask, despite the close proximity to the sheep and the new exercise.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Contract

There is a contract of sorts, that we make with the dogs when we bring them into our lives. They are cute and funny and young and healthy...and in a few short years they are elderly and silly and still funny perhaps, but with growing health problems and limited mobility. This is the contract that we agree to. My thoughts around this lately are growing sad. Coal is now twelve. My handsome open dog who ran joyously up the hills at Zamora, and at Dunnigan, and all the other trials, bringing me trial sheep, doing chores like a comfortable and reliable well-worn saddle, is growing old. And now he has some health issues. He is developing kidney trouble. The vet has put him on a special diet of low phosphorous food to help delay the problems. But he has to go potty a lot, drinks a lot of water and according to the vet needs to be allowed to drink all he wants. We have worked out a plan for now, so that everyone is comfortable. The thought of all this makes me super sad. He is very quickly losing his hearing, too, so we have to manage his freedom when there are no fences to protect him. He's super anxious without me and is glued to my side; I wonder if the hearing loss makes him more needy to be right with me.

Coal is still silly and within seconds of waking up in the morning, is searching for the nearest ball or toy to toss around, or a nylabone to chew on ferociously while I stumble out of bed. He seems to still be enjoying life and that is what I will try to maintain.

Ryme is right behind him at nine years old, and will be ten in December. I had dogs two years apart, years ago, in Alix and Augie and I should have known better than to do that again because I will soon have two elderly dogs to care for, once again. But this contract is not always foremost in our minds when we bring that puppy home.  Ryme is still working and doing chores and I hope that continues for a good while. I don't know what I will do without him. Spot and Cap will have to step into his jobs.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Huge Relief

We had a bit of a scare this week, with Ryme. Our doggie chiropractor was here, to do her magic tuneups on the dogs for their quarterly visit, and she found an egg-sized lump on Ryme, under his ribs on his left side, that was not there the last time she checked him (which was early August in an off-cycle visit). It's a little scary in a nine year old dog to find a fast growing lump like that. The dogs were all due for annual visits to their vet, anyway, so I made an appointment for Ryme to be the first one to get brought up to date. I totally did not need a big expensive vet event, right now, and moreso, was worried about Ryme's health. At nine years old you just never know what is going to happen. Bid was nine when we lost him so it is always a scary year for me with the dogs.

Anyway we were able to get in with our vet the same week, Friday afternoon, which was amazing. They've been booking out two to three weeks recently so I felt this was fortunate. Ryme does not like going to the vet. He gets very worried and in the past we have only been able to do a very sketchy exam on him. But this time he was a trooper. While he was worried, pulling me towards the door, he was good as gold when Dr Joy examined him. She said right away, "oh that's a lipoma". Whew! But then she said she could tap it to make sure. Once again Ryme held still for her to insert a needle into the growth and get some cells to view, and yes, she confirmed it was a fatty tumor, or a lipoma. This was a huge relief!!! I am so grateful that this is not a big problem for Ryme, and a huge bill for me. We have lots of work yet to do; he is my right hand guy for close sheep work, sorting, pushing through the chute, and so forth.  And he will be my backup for exhaust at the Finals.

I felt bad for the staff at the vets office. They were working with a new computer system and Friday was the first day for it. They were a bit stressed. I can relate! They are also combining two practices and offices. A vet practice that burned down last October in the Santa Rosa firestorm is combining with the vet that I have gone to for probably almost twenty years. I am hoping this will be a good thing, but for now, until they get larger quarters, it is a bit crowded and crazy in there. Eventually I think it will be positive. I felt very positive with Ryme's news! Now I just have to go back with the other three dogs, and bring everybody else up to date, probably split into two visits to spread out the cost. No pet insurance here, although that might have to happen someday.

Gratitude all around, for good news... :-)

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Stubbed My Toe

The ground is so darn hard. Poor Cap has bruised his toe again. No sheepdog training for him, this weekend while we rest him and wait for him to heal up. I do not want to work with a limping puppy! (Even though he is willing...). It's hard to wait as he is so much fun to work with.

Here is Cap from a couple of weekends ago, doing some pretty fancy footwork following the ewes...
Watching the live streaming of the International in gloriously green Ireland, it makes me quite jealous of nice green grass to run sheep and dogs on.

Between the hard ground and (even worse) all the fires in California and elsewhere that keep popping up, rain cannot come soon enough!

Meanwhile we are making lists and packing and prepping for the's getting real!